The Telegraph’s Alan Cochrane reports online this morning that there are tensions in the Scottish Conservatives about Annabel Goldie’s support for full fiscal autonomy and a commission to look into what further powers should be transferred to Holyrood:
"Leading Tories told her that she risked alienating traditional
supporters by throwing her weight behind Labour’s plans for a Scottish
Constitutional Commission to examine the transfer of powers from
They are also concerned that the Tory group of MSPs
at Holyrood is poised to back plans for full fiscal autonomy, which
would give the Parliament the right to raise and spend all its tax
revenue. This, some fear, would be a major step towards the break-up of
the United Kingdom.
One former senior office bearer in the
Scottish party, with over 30 years of service to numerous leaders, has
written a personal letter to Mr Cameron describing Miss Goldie’s plans
as both a "blunder” and "nonsense” and suggesting that, taken
together, they represent a threat to the Union. Thus far, Mr Cameron
has backed Miss Goldie to the hilt.
The issue erupted at a
meeting in Glasgow on Saturday of the Tories’ Scottish Council, made up
of the chairmen of all of the party’s area associations. This is the
voluntary arm of the party, as distinct from the paid officials or the
MSPs at Holyrood or the solitary MP in the Commons. As such it claims
to represent the views of ordinary party members and supporters in the
Cochrane quotes "a senior Tory" saying that "at least three chairmen expressed grave reservations about the route
Annabel is taking and are worried that we are following in the
footsteps of the SNP", but a spokesman said that there was only a handful of questions about it and that "none of them were in any way critical". He also says that the President of Scottish Conservatives, David Mitchell, is preparing a paper outlining his opposition to fiscal autonomy but this is also denied.
Once again the key debate between unionists here is whether the United Kingdom is best preserved by sating appetites for full independence by offering semi-independence, or by taking a stand and opposing all additional powers.
10pm update: The Telegraph’s Iain Martin offers a seven point guide to how the Scottish Conservatives "got into this mess"