by Ian Hamilton
There can be no stranger bed-fellows than Alan Cochrane of The Daily Telegraph and the SNP. These four bare legs are producing a constant attack on devolution. This isnâ€™t surprising. No one likes devolution except the LibLabs, and they are in it for a back seat in a big car.
I have sympathy for Alan Cochrane. His real job is to support the Scottish Tories, but he would need a jelly mould to do that. Recently I wrote to Bill Aitken MSP. I asked him about opposition to devolution and the increasing support for independence in his party. This is what he said.
YOU POSE THE QUESTION AS TO WHO REPRESENTS THE VIEW OF THOSE OF A CONSERVATIVE INCLINATION WHO OPPOSE DEVOLUTION OR WHO WOULD PREFER TO SEE SCOTLAND AS BEING INDEPENDENT. THAT IS NOT REALLY FOR ME TO ANSWER. THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY IS A UNIONIST PARTY AND TO MY MIND WILL ALWAYS REMAIN SO.
Aye right! Michael Fry asks for the Tory hand in marriage. Tongue-tied Bill Aitken looks at his boots and says, That is not really for me to answer. With leadership like that no wonder Alan Cochrane prefers to attack devolution.
Alan Cochrane isnâ€™t daft. He knows there are Nationalist Tories galore in Scotland. Iâ€™ve mentioned Michael Fry. Peter Fraserâ€™s toe is now sticking through the hole in his sock, trying to test the water. My spy in the Eastwood Tories says Jackson Carlaw, their prospective candidate, talks openly about modernising the Party including a pledge to independence. Such a change would win him Eastwood for either Parliament. No one likes being in permanent opposition.
And in permanent opposition they will be with Archie Stirling and his Auld Lang Syne Party splitting the Tory vote. Worse! Now David Cameron is trying to help. Floreat Etona! To bring the shadow cabinet to Scotland would be patronising if they werenâ€™t the best comic turn in town. Theyâ€™re a different civilisation trying to be Scotch. Pity Rikki Fultonâ€™s deid. He would have them aâ€™ in kilts, cleeking an linking to a bagpipe in George Square. Maybe theyâ€™d find some Tory lasses, plump and strapping in their teens, for a wee bit houghmagandy behind the statues. Can me and Tam come and watch, David? If I telt the polis who ye are yeâ€™ll maybe noâ€™ get lifted.
Chuck it, Cameron. Youâ€™re making the cat laugh. The Scottish Tories are embarrassment enough without you helping. You should give them up. They donâ€™t provide you with lobby fodder. They have made no inroads into the Scottish Labour vote. The Tories only way forward in Scotland is in independence. This already commends itself to a majority in both countries. England no more wants the Scottish Raj than we want the old days of Rule Britania.
Independence will change everything. The Labour Party will collapse. Its Oban conference was a sham. They couldnâ€™t fill the Corran Hall which is too small even for a Temperance meeting. There were more cats and polismen outside than audience inside. The Liberals will run with the pack hoping for scraps. The Tories must be represented, and by vital young people, not by the present crew. Being hostile to them is like kicking a kitten but they must go. This is where Alan Cochrane comes in.
In 2007 the Times is to become an â€˜indigenousâ€™ Scottish newspaper, made, printed and published in Scotland. I do not know what its policy is to be, but it is inconceivable that Rupert Murdochâ€™s lieutenant Colin McClatchie hasnâ€™t noticed the need for a right wing independence aligned newspaper. We would all buy it, even non Tories like me. We would buy it for its Scottish and international content. Murdoch tried once before to ride the nationalist horse, but it was with the Sun. Wrong paper. Wrong time. The space for a Scottish Tory paper leaning towards independence is wide open. Newspapers are now international but need a national loyalty. I buy the two Scottish broadsheets from loyalty, but I buy the English broadsheets for content. We must wait and see but The Times may combine both.
I return to Alan Cochrane.
Who is the highest paid journalist in Scotland? Who is the most experienced Tory journalist in Scotland? If the choice is between devolution and independence which will Alan Cochrane choose? Who will edit the new Scottish Times?
Does the road to Damascus start in an Angus glen?Â