Could Scottish independence help the Tories?

There are more pandas in Edinburgh Zoo than there are Tory MPs in Scotland.

Could Scottish independence help the Tories?

The irony is not lost on South Staffordshire Conservative councillor Matt Ewart, originally from Edinburgh, as he ponders the prospect of the country of his birth going it alone.

In fact, independence might be the key to David Cameron getting back into Number 10, if by losing 58 MPs from other parties and only one Conservative it gives him a shot at a majority.

That is not the concern of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which is trying to build support for September's crucial referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country. It will have no interest in which party runs the remaining parts of the United Kingdom if it is running its own. But despite the referendum being about the future of the UK as much as about Scotland, no-one in England, Wales or Northern Ireland will have a say.

Even Scots who have moved south of the border will be barred from taking part, although anyone from other countries living in Scotland will get a ballot paper.

Everyone from David Cameron to David Bowie has been having a say, but the 'no' campaign is focussed heavily on the negatives, warning Scotland it will not be able to share the pound sterling and that it will have to re-apply for membership of the European Union.

The debate has included fears of 'uncertainty and disruption' over energy, with the Government saying Scotland would have to pay £3,800 per person to match the £20 billion the UK has committed towards decommissioning in the North Sea.

Former general secretary of Nato Lord Robertson says it would be 'cataclysmic' for defence as well.

Scots in the West Midlands hope the United Kingdom will stay together, although as far as the Tories are concerned, there might be a silver lining to independence – the loss of all those Scottish Labour and Lib Dem MPs. Councillor Ewart, aged 69 and of Church Lane in Codsall, has lived in England for 35 years and raised his two sons here.

The retired microbiologist says: "It still looks like the 'no' vote is in the lead. Of course, politically, it might be considered that independence would be bad for them but good for us (the Conservatives).

"It could even be a tipping point for the next election."

But would David Cameron want to be the Prime Minister that presided over the break-up of the union?

"Almost certainly not," Councillor Ewart says. "It goes very much against the grain and from a political point of view all the main parties want to stay united.

"Scotland is a more cosmopolitan place than when I grew up there and perhaps that's helped people to feel more independent.

"But it would be a bad idea. It all comes down to money. There's far more public spending per head in Scotland than England and independence is something that would not be sustainable. I can't understand why Alex Salmond believes it would be."

Despite spending half his life in England, Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden's Glasgow accent is as strong as ever.

But the last thing he wants is to become a literal ex-Pat of Scotland with his native country seceding from the United Kingdom.

The 49-year-old father of two has spent the past 25 years in England and has no doubt that home is London and Wolverhampton's East Park area, where he divides his time as an MP. Yet despite being born in Paisley and educated at the University of Edinburgh, the Labour MP will not be offered a say in September's referendum.

"I won't get to have a say but that's how it should be," Mr McFadden says.

"This is something that the people of Scotland have to decide. I have relatives there still but my family, my children and my life are all here. I do hope, however, that they choose to vote 'no' to independence. There's been a lot of talk about the downsides of Scotland leaving but I think we should be saying more about the upsides of staying together.

"Together we're a beacon of democracy and freedom, with a vibrant culture, and we are respected around the world. It's a lot to walk away from.

"Then there are the economic downsides – the concerns over currency, investment and what would happen to Scotland's place in the European Union.

"Scotland already has its own wide powers to legislate on health, housing and local government. And it makes sense to share other matters like defence and social security."

Darlaston Labour councillor Doug James thinks he should have a vote as a Scot living in England and he would vote for independence.

The 55-year-old, originally from Fife, said: "Scotland was independent prior to 1707. I believe the move towards a 'yes' vote gives us the chance to re-establish the importance not just of Scotland but of the English regions as well." That is a view not shared by IT teacher Elaine Coates, originally from Glasgow but now in Tettenhall. The mother of three has lived in England for 30 years but has no strong views on independence.

"I just don't see how it will work, I think Scotland would be crazy to do this," she says. "How is it going to get its income? Whisky and tourism, probably, but that's it."

Stuart Henry, aged 34, lives in Bewdley and moved from Scotland to England in 1999 for work. He is married to Lorraine, who is English, and the Bewdley-based couple have four-year-old son, Cameron.

Mr Henry was born in a town called Linlithgow in West Lothian and went to school and university in Dundee.

"I am as patriotic as any Scot," he says. "It will always be 'home'. But the simple fact is that Alex Salmond does not have the popularity required to push enough 'yes' votes through."

Stuart thinks that while the SNP enjoys strong support in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, the multi-cultural, big population cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee could be his undoing. "These are cities where, despite what people say, there are still strong religious and sectarian divides," Mr Henry says.

"If we look ahead to Mr Salmond's performance in September I have a strong feeling it will read 'must do better'. And that's not enough."

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