|New PR approach signals real start of referendum battle|
From a PR viewpoint David Cameron's media performance in Scotland yesterday marked a distinct change in tact.
At last the Unionists seem to be waking up to the fact that condescendingly telling the Scots 'don't be so ridiculous you'll never make it alone'. They've eventually sussed out the best way of saving the Union might be to push the benefits of membership.
Instead of banging on about how the collapse of RBS would have been another Darian disaster leaving the nation on knees, pleading to be let back in to Team GB or gloating how the Arc of Prosperity has turned into a semi circle of destitution. They are now pushing the idea of Britishness, what Britain gets out of Scotland being a part of the UK and what the UK gets out of Scotland. He has subtly shifted the stance to tug on the heart strings, urging Scots to step back and take a hard look at what they'd be giving up.
“Of course Scotland could govern itself. So could England. My point is that we do it so much better together,” said the PM.
And the Tory press lapped it up, Salmond now 'faces a proper fight' said the Telegraph. But at last having someone on the front foot clouded their judgement, Cameron is not and never will be the figurehead to lead the Unionist charge.
In a master stoke of one upmanship during their discussions, Salmond had strategically placed a political map of Scotland directly behind him and straight in the eyeline of Mr Cameron. With it predomince of yellow and mere hints of blue it was a none too subtle reminder of who was in charge in this neck of the woods.
Despite his change in tactics Dave will always be seen as a southern Tory boy and Scots, in general, don't like being told what to do by Eton educated distant relatives of royalty.
That is the crux of the Unionists' problem, it's so much more than slick PR presentation and effective messaging, they have no Alex Salmond.
Alistair Darling is believed to be the PMs choice to unify the anti independence movement . Unfortunately for the Unionists he would probably also be Alex Salmond's. Verbally tussling with the man he would taunt for leading the UK into the worst crisis in 60 years would hold little fear for him.
Cameron's best arguments were his practical ones.
"We all benefit from being part of a properly-funded welfare system, with the resources to fund our pensions and healthcare needs, but because there is real solidarity in our United Kingdom. When any part of the United Kingdom suffers a setback, the rest of the country stands behind it."
Whether it's floods in the west country or bombs at Glasgow airport the UK can provide more support than the sum of its parts the arguement goes.
And emotional ones.
“The link between our nations is a precious thing. It’s about our history, our values, our shared identity and our joint place in the world. Just think of what we’ve achieved together. Scotland has contributed to the greatest political, cultural and social success story of the last 300 years: the creation and flourishing of a United Kingdom built on freedom and inclusivity.'
In a sea of claim and counter claim over the economics of independence it might be the kith and kin arguements that sway the arguments for the Union on the day.
But without anyone to make them effectively the momentum is still with the nationalists but with everything to play for.
One tip for Cameron's public relations machine though. Gimmicky photo calls in porridge plants, next to shot putters in kilts, may seem like a good idea at the time, but they're the sort of picture stunts that invariably come back to bite.