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Bring it on or call it off?

Brian Taylor | 10:26 UK time, Tuesday, 5 October 2010

So which is it? Bring it on or call it off?

Call it off, apparently.

We are talking independence referendum once more. The prime minister was addressing Scots representatives at their conference reception here in Birmingham.

He said the Tories would be ready and willing to fight for the Union if Alex Salmond ever had the courage to call such a ballot.

But hang on. Mr Salmond only shelved such a proposal because it faced vigorous opposition from, among others, the Tories, and was certain to be defeated at holyrood.

Tories here insist there is no inconsistency.

David Cameron does not want a referendum on independence but feels entitled to lampoon the first minister for what he believes is his vacillation.

Is that absolutely clear then? Well, no, not quite. Mr Cameron stressed on the wireless this morning that he is not challenging the SNP to call a referendum - yet his conference fringe tone was redolent of challenge, albeit deferred.

Was he perhaps inspired by jingoism when confronted with the Scots Tory faithful?

You remember: "We don't want to fight but, by jingo, if we do . . ."


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