SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: David Cameron last night said the referendum No vote would act as a springboard for the Conservatives to win more Westminster seats in Scotland next year.
The Prime Minister claimed the rejection of independence offered a “huge political opportunity” for his party, which currently only has one Scottish MP.
Speaking at the Scottish Conservatives’ reception at the UK party conference in Birmingham, Mr Cameron spoke of his relief that the 307-year-old Union had been maintained.
The fight for a No vote had mobilised Tory activists in areas that had been held by the Conservatives until the 1997 wipe-out, Mr Cameron said.
The work that had been done on the ground had been complemented by birth of a “new star” in Ruth Davidson, who had emerged as a Scottish leader of “stature” and “passion”.
“I think we have a huge political opportunity here,” said the Prime Minister after he was greeted with cheers from Tory members gathered for an event at which attendees have not had much to shout about in the recent past.
“We have now got a leader with huge stature in Scotland. We have now got a database, not just of Conservative supporters but Friends of the Union, who looked at us to defend our United Kingdom. We have got people who have been hardened in the battle on the streets and campaigning. We have got some targets in our sights.”
Mr Cameron mentioned areas like Perthshire and Aberdeenshire, which turned out to vote No, despite the Conservative vote being eroded by the SNP in recent parliamentary elections.
“We’ve got people. We’ve got the message.
“Now I really think we can turn the next 200 days into the opportunity to deliver more Conservative seats in the Westminster parliament for Scotland,” Mr Cameron said.
“That should be our aim. That should be our goal. And please, my friends, let’s do everything to bring it about.”
Mr Cameron admitted that he felt “very emotional” as he addressed Conservative members.
He defended his strategy not to include a second “DevoMax” option on the ballot paper, arguing that a single question had proved the correct choice. He also spoke of importance of allowing a fair and legal referendum to settle the independence issue.
“When Alex Salmond got a majority we could have ducked the fight and put off what he wanted to do. We could have let him have illegal referendum after illegal referendum. We could have let him, rather cowardly it would have been, break up the Union by stealth,” Mr Cameron said.
“That was not the choice we made. We said one referendum, one question – fair legal and decisive.
“And let’s not forget that in the dying weeks of campaign, there were one or two people who were beginning to wonder whether that was wise. Well, let’s just say now loudly and proudly. It was the right call. We saved our United Kingdom.”