Speaking to the Party in Scotland David Cameron points to the 1980s and the poll tax as a big part of the reason for Scotland’s increasingly unhappy relationship with England:
"A series of blunders were committed in the 1980s and 90s of which the imposition of the Poll Tax was the most egregious. We all know why it happened – the rates revaluation and the rest of it. But the decision to treat Scotland as a laboratory for experimentation in new methods of local government finance was clumsy and unjust. On devolution too we fought on against the idea of a Scottish Parliament long after it became clear that it was the settled will of the people. It’s no compensation to see the Labour Party displaying the same insensitivity today. It weakens the Union and reminds Scots of Tory mistakes. For example, the destruction of much-loved and historic regiments like the Black Watch by this government reprises the unwanted regimental mergers initiated in the early 90s."
Another big theme of the speech was resistance to those who want to address the alleged England-to-Scotland subsidy:
"There’s another grievance held by those in England who seek to dismember Britain. They want to end the Barnett Formula. Politicians like Ken Livingstone regard the Scots as subsidy junkies who get far more of the national pot than they’re entitled to. Again, I’m sorry – it’s more complicated than that. Other areas within the UK are subsidised more heavily than Scotland is. Nowhere outside London has as large and profitable a financial services sector as Edinburgh’s. Let’s remember that before throwing accusations around. We all know that families can fall out bitterly over money. I’m determined that won’t happen to the British family. We’re bigger and better than that."
In the final part of his remarks the Tory leader worries that English attitudes to Scotland are a large part of the reason for Scots’ increasing openness to independence:
"Whether it’s Russ Abbott-style lampooning or the inevitable aggressive Glaswegian drunk in TV programmes, the cumulative effect can be depressing. Even as an Englishman, I find it a bit embarrassing. Another aspect of English cultural insensitivity that rears its head in the media is the vexed question of sporting identity. Why is that Scottish sportsmen and women who win are habitually claimed by English media commentators as ‘British’ only to be promptly redesignated as ‘Scottish’ the moment they lose?
One other aspect of the interface between the Scots and the English causes offence. And here there’s absolutely no excuse. Scottish banknotes are every bit as good as those issued by the Bank of England. That’s something everyone working in shops or other parts of the service economy anywhere in the UK should know. Yet Scots often have to endure the indignity of having their money examined by suspicious staff south of the border as if it’s come straight out of a Monopoly box. Sometimes Scottish fivers and tenners are simply refused. Of course, it’s not the end of the world but it’s hard to think of a clearer demonstration of disrespect. It seems to say to Scots – “Do things our way – or take a hike.”
Instead of deriding Scots as chippy or difficult, isn’t it time that English people of good will educated themselves? Part of the problem is that some English commentators don’t seem to know what to think of Scotland – when they can be bothered to think at all. They appear seriously confused. One moment they deride Scots as hopeless drunks and beggars. The next they complain that England is run by something called the Scottish Raj, a race of superhumans led by John Reid and Kirsty Wark."
Full speech here.