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At long last we have a Scot who can stand up to Alex Salmond over the union

Lord Steel, in a speech to the Lords, laid several blows on the hitherto untouchable First Minister

By on Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Lord Steel: 'We are seeing a trend towards the attributes of the one-party state, where news bulletins are led by stories of what the Dear Leader has been doing.' (PA photo)

Lord Steel: 'We are seeing a trend towards the attributes of the one-party state, where news bulletins are led by stories of what the Dear Leader has been doing.' (PA photo)

At long last someone is deciding to confront the Scottish nationalists. In a speech in the House of Lords, reported in today’s Telegraph, Lord Steel manages to lay several punches on the hitherto untouchable Alex Salmond.

To call this a David meets Goliath encounter would be misleading, for David Steel is no David son of Jesse, no outsider, but rather one who is at the very centre of the Scottish establishment. But, and it is a very important but, Steel is as Scottish as Salmond: if anyone is to take on Salmond and his claim to be the authentic voice of Scotland, it has to be another Scot. The battle for the Union must be fought on Scottish soil. It would be to play into nationalist hands to send troops (metaphorically speaking) north of the border. Such fights are best left to people like Steel; Cameron would find himself in the same predicament as Edward Longshanks, whose very victories only served to stiffen resistance.

One is left marvelling at the robust nature of Lord Steel’s remarks. He claims to like Mr Salmond, but then appears to compare him to the late Kim Jong-Il, the cold, capricious, ruthless and overweight dictator of North Korea. And if that is not enough, he likens him to Louis XIV and his claim that “L’etat, c’est moi.”

All this is good knockabout stuff, the type of which Mr Salmond regularly dishes, so presumably he can take it. It is the type of language that no Tory and no Englishman would dare use. Which leads us to the question: who will lead the campaign against separation when the referendum comes? Lord Steel would be my choice, on the strength of this performance.

For, quite apart from the invective, Lord Steel makes a very important point.

Lord Steel also used the speech to attack the SNP’s “little Scotland” mindset. Although he is friends with a former Danish foreign minister, he said he does not want to see an equivalent Scottish post “with similar limited global influence”.

“I would rather have Scots like Robin Cook and Malcolm Rifkind wielding genuine strength as foreign ministers of a United Kingdom,” he said.

In raising this, Steel reminds us of the case made by the earliest proponents of union such as James VI and I. If Scotland is not to be a backwater, it needs to be in alliance with its southern neighbour. Too bad that only the smallest of our unionist parties, the Liberal Democrats, seems to be making this case with any force.

  • Alan

    Are you seriously trying to tell us that members of your Scottish family were slaughtered by the English?  I would love to hear details!
    The point I would make is that nationalism, which reached its zenith probably in the 19th century, was responsible for the horrors of the world wars of the 20th.  We should be working to bring countries closer together, not splitting them apart.

  • P Stewart

    9 people liked this, how many didn’t? Why not show the dislikes too???

  • Diffal

    Well he has shown his capacity to legislate for killing people before they are born, so maybe he will be equally sucessful in facilitating the abortion of scottish independence?

    If David Steel is the only alternative I have to Alex Salmond, then its Alex Salmond all the way!

  • Anonymous

    If David Steel(Lord Steel) is the best the ‘status quo’ has to offer then don’t hold your breath’ because this is the man who will not budge one iota over his visionary Abortion Act ’66. The abberations of which are becoming more and more obvious -but not to him.Pro -choice male babies over female ones-how on earth even now the ‘feminist lobby’  refuse to see this outright discrimination against their own sex is utterly unbelievable akaLord Steel.DON’T PUT YOUR TRUST IN PRINCES or IN HIS CASE LORDS!
    What on earth would be your reaction if  the SNP ;(1) voted against gay marriage and (2) voted to review the  Abortion Act in Scotland following  their independance. If realism a chance