Peter Duncan was Conservative MP for Galloway & Upper Nithsdale, Shadow Scottish Secretary and Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party under Michael Howard and David Cameron.
Last week’s first serious skirmish on the upcoming referendum on Scottish separation from the rest of the UK has set out some interesting challenges for the Conservatives to face up to. Last year’s triumph in the AV referendum has given the party a taste for winning these battles - to win this one, we’ll need to show discipline, enthusiasm for the fight and an understanding of the post-devolution Scottish political dynamic. Our opponent, the SNP, has shown itself to be a world-class campaigning machine - our best chance of beating them in 2014 (or whenever the vote is held) would be sticking to my ten tartan rules for success.
1. Make the positive case for the Union
Don't talk Scotland down by suggesting that Scotland needs England. Don’t say that Scotland couldn’t make its own way in the world. It could - the question to be answered is whether it should. Scotland is perfectly capable of operating successfully as an independent country and Unionists should not be afraid to say so. However, we don't think it's in Scotland's best interests to end the world’s most successful economic, monetary, political and social Union, and with it lose significant influence on a worldwide stage. As Scottish patriots, we don’t think it’s in Scotland’s best interests, and as British patriots we don’t think it’s in the interests of the remainder of the UK.