Friday, 14 May 2010

Two Nations Politically Divided

David Cameron in Scotland to meet SNP's Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond and David Cameron
Mr Cameron says he will treat Mr Salmond's government with respect
Prime Minister David Cameron is travelling to Scotland for talks with First Minister Alex Salmond.
Mr Cameron, who is making good his pledge to head north within days of an election victory, has promised to treat the devolved government with "respect".
Mr Salmond will press the prime minister to concede further cash and spending powers for Holyrood.
Mr Cameron wants a "new spirit of co-operation" between the Scottish Parliament and Westminster as a whole.
The head of the UK's new Tory-Lib Dem government is also meeting Scottish opposition leaders.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that former Scottish deputy first minister and Lib Dem politician Lord Wallace is expected to return to government as advocate general for Scotland, the UK government's most senior Scottish law officer.
andrew black
Andrew Black
Political reporter, BBC Scotland

Today's visit is the first crucial test of David Cameron's 'respect agenda', which the Tory leader has been pushing for the last two years.
It goes something like this: Mr Cameron says to the SNP: When it comes to Scotland I'll respect devolution as long as you recognise the areas where Westminster has responsibility. Alex Salmond says: Fair enough, but that won't stop me acting in the Scottish interest if I need to.
That poses problems in areas such as new nuclear power stations - now back on the UK government's agenda, but unwanted by SNP ministers.
In terms of going forward, Mr Salmond wants more power and more cash, while Mr Cameron, whose party has just one Scottish MP, wants to cut the UK deficit.
Both sides have expressed the political will to get on, but historical bad blood between the two parties could cause problems down the road - the SNP has already referred to the new UK government as the 'Con-dem coalition'.
Also involved with today's events will be Scottish secretary Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem politician who might just find himself having to keep the peace in future.
It is also understood Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dem MP for Orkney and Shetland will serve as a senior government whip in the Commons.
During today's meeting, Mr Salmond will call on Mr Cameron to bring forward £350m of capital spending to aid Scotland's economic recovery, and will also argue Scotland is owed £165m over five years in "consequential" funding, as a result of public spending in relation to the London Olympics.
The SNP leader will also request the Treasury releases cash for Scotland held in the fossil fuel levy, worth £180m, and will press the case to give enhanced borrowing powers to Holyrood, as recommended by the Calman Commission review of devolution.
Mr Salmond told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "The people of Scotland expect Scotland's first minister to stick up for Scotland's interests and that is what I am going to do."
The first minister said he had tried to identify measures which could be taken for Scotland which would not have an adverse affect elsewhere.
He said: "In terms of the fossil fuel levy, that is almost £200m, paid for by Scottish generators, lying in a London bank account, that can only be spent on renewable energy in Scotland.
"We don't have access to it at the moment because the previous government's position has been, if we access that funding it would be deducted from health and education funding in Scotland.
"There is an example of something which could be released to generate thousands of jobs in Scotland in the major opportunity of marine renewables and it would be no dis-benefit to anyone else whatsoever."
Mr Cameron will be accompanied by Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat MP who has been appointed Scottish secretary.
The visit comes after Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie said the public had grown tired of past rows between the Scottish and UK governments, which have often focussed on funding, the proposed independence referendum and more powers for the Scottish Parliament.
The prime minister has said Westminster would not seek to override Holyrood's role on devolved matters, but also stressed the Scottish government must respect areas reserved to the UK parliament.
Mr Salmond said he would always support UK government policies which were in the "interest of the Scottish people", but added SNP ministers would, at all times, be making the argument to "advance the cause of Scotland".
David Mundell, the new minister for Scotland and the only Conservative MP north of the border, said he was confident the new government would restore support for his party in Scotland.
"The Conservatives do what they say - they deliver good government and I think that is the way in which we'll actually rebuild support for our party here in Scotland," he said.

Oh Alex, Tweedledumb has departed - now we have Tweedledem and Tweedledee :

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