McLetchie Earlier this week David McLetchie MSP was put in charge of the Conservative Party's campaign to elect eleven Scottish MPs. In reality four or five victories would delight the Tory leadership but publicly the party is hoping for more.

David Cameron is on a visit to Scotland and in various interviews has been setting out his stall to voters north of the border.

He has rejected Lord Forsyth's suggestion that a new Conservative government 'shoots the Nationalist fox' by pre-empting Alex Salmond and holding a referendum on independence soon rather than at a time of the First Minister's choosing. Mr Cameron's opposition to a speedy referendum is recorded in The Scotsman:

 "I am 100 per cent behind preserving the United Kingdom. I will not put it at risk by having a referendum we do not need. If the Scottish Parliament decides it wants a referendum, the UK can't stand in its way, but to preempt it by having a referendum without it coming from the Scottish Parliament would be tricksy and wrong."

Mr Cameron also promises more powers for the Scottish Parliament and will set out what those powers should be before the 2011 Holyrood elections. The Scottish Conservatives now insist that, in line with the Calman report, they are now so committed to devolution that they want to deepen it.

The Times notes that Mr Cameron defended the Thatcher legacy: “There was a folk memory of the Thatcher legacy — people who are 30 now think Thatcher was bad for Scotland but they actually weren’t around at the time. People will see we have changed. This is a different Conservative party and a different leader.”

MUNDELL DAVID NEW Mr Cameron has also given limited backing to the Shadow Scottish Secretary David Mundell who is seen to have been undermined by David McLetchie's promotion. Mr Mundell had a "strong and important future," he told PA. The Conservative leader, however, "did not give an assurance that the Shadow Scottish Secretary will be made Secretary of State if the Tories win the General Election next year."

The expectation is that the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland might be wrapped into one Constitutional Cabinet role as part of a Tory government's efforts to cut costs and the size of the ministerial pay roll. There is support for such a rationalisation in Wales. The current Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy is regarded as little more than a spokesman for the Labour cause north of the border…. and all at our expense.

Tim Montgomerie