According to Conservative MP Ken Clarke, an independent Scotland would have the same “clout” as Malta (your report 17 March). This effusion at the recent Tory conference in Edinburgh, though absurd, was presumably honed specifically to elicit cheap laughs from the party faithful and irritate those he branded as “separatists”.
Since your report documented no disapprobation from the delegates, one would assume that both intended consequences were probably realised.
Mr Clarke’s patronising condescension had, however, two additional – no doubt unintended – consequences.
First, his observations actually reveal inadvertently, but accurately and eloquently, the existing standing and “clout” of Scotland – as seen through the eyes of Mr Clarke and the Westminster elite – within the present metro-centric UK.
Secondly, the fact that Mr Clarke felt safe to indulge in anti-Scottish sarcasm to any audience north of the Border, even of unionists, and clearly without fear of eliciting any disquiet in the conference hall, is equally revealing of the underlying attitudes of his hosts.
The Tories still have a long road to travel before they have any prospect of connecting with most Scottish voters.
One of the intriguing paradoxes of the referendum debate is that defenders of the Union frequently seem compelled to provide the most persuasive reasons for its repeal.
The Yes campaign must be praying for Mr Clarke’s next visit.
(Dr) Kenneth J Cameron