Scottish independence: Davidson to attack ‘myths’

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson will today accuse nationalists of promoting “myths and prejudices” that No campaigners are less patriotic Scots than supporters of independence.

Ms Davidson will criticise what she says are suggestions that backing for Scotland’s place in the UK is “less than truly pro-Scottish” as she delivers a keynote speech tonight.

She is expected to say there is no “contradiction in a fierce loyalty both to the UK and Scotland” in a speech to the David Hume Institute and Young Academy of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Ms Davidson will dismiss suggestions that backers of the anti-independence cross-party Better Together campaign want to “assimilate into the more supposedly dominant English culture”.

Ms Davidson’s speech comes as her party is examining extending devolution from Westminster to Holyrood through the party’s Strathclyde commission – led by peer and former minister Lord Strathclyde.

Ms Davidson will suggest that unionists can reclaim Scottish patriotism from the nationalists in the run-up to the referendum. She will say: “I want to take on some of the myths and prejudices that – because of our reticence – have in Scotland been allowed to gain credibility about our Union, and become accepted wisdom. Others may want to impose a ‘unionist cringe’ but we should not let them. Rather, let us stand back a little, and see anew that which previously we have taken for granted. The first is the caricature that support for the Union is somehow less than truly pro-Scottish – that it shows a rather pathetic desire to assimilate into the more supposedly dominant English culture. This myth runs deep.”

However, Ms Davidson admits there are “tensions sometimes in that dual identity” of being Scottish and British. But she will say: “In truth, the Scottish unionist tradition has never seen any contradiction in a fierce loyalty both to the UK and Scotland. Those of us who believe in Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom are every bit as patriotic as those who favour independence.

“We on the pro-Union side recognise there are tensions sometimes in that dual identity.

“But the point is that while Scots unionists may have felt the tensions in our situation in the same way the nationalists have, we’ve rejected the belief that this means the Union must, therefore, end.”

Ms Davidson goes on to attack the SNP’s plans for an independent Scotland to share resources with the UK, such as expertise in research and the use of sterling, as well as leaving the Queen in place as head of state.

She will say: “The truth, as we are beginning to learn, is that pick’n’mix independence won’t work. You can’t just choose the bits you like out of the UK and leave the parts you don’t.”

SNP MSP John Wilson accepted No campaigners were “no less patriotic”, but said that Scotland would face more cuts to services if it remained part of the UK.

He said: “The speech by Ruth Davidson clearly indicates the failure to understand the deep-seated differences that exist between Westminster and people in Scotland.

“Ruth Davidson is right to identify that people in the No campaign may be no less patriotic about Scotland. However, they have got to ask themselves what the future of Scotland will be if they vote No.

“Can Scotland afford more austerity under Westminster governments of all colours?”