David Cameron: England Unimagined
David Cameron's first speech to conference as prime minister left me in no doubt that he intends to stand by his statement that he does not want to be prime minister of England. While Annabel Goldie urged action in "Scotland's national interest" and David Mundell wanted to "take Scotland forward", David Cameron could only mention England in the context of football and unionism.
He can speak of England but not for England. England is left unaddressed, without a vision of an English future - unimagined.
When I walked into Downing Street as Prime Minister, that evening I was deeply conscious that I was taking over the heaviest of responsibilities, not least for the future of our United Kingdom.
Tony Blair, Gordon Brown - and John Major before them - worked incredibly hard to bring lasting peace to Northern Ireland and I will continue their work.
And as the threat of dissident republican terrorism increases, I want to make it clear that we will protect our people with every means at our disposal.
And I want to make something else clear.
When I say I am Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I really mean it.
England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland - we're weaker apart, we are stronger together, and together is how we must remain.
But there is another side to life as Prime Minister.
Like being made to watch the England football team lose, 4-1to Germany, in the company of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
It's a form of torture and I wouldn't wish on anyone.
I have to say, she is one of the politest people I have ever met, every time their players scored another goal, she would turn to me and say, 'I really am very, very sorry.'
It's brought a whole new meaning to the concept of Anglo-German relations: whatever you do, don't mention the score.
The aspirations of the English nation, English identity, England's future and England's democracy, disregarded in favour of a glib and insincere anecdote about watching football with a German, from a man who doesn't even like football (and possibly England).
In contrast Cameron mentioned 'Britain' 9 times, 'British' 6 times and the 'United Kingdom' 3 times. He has no problem imagining and speaking for and to the British nation; he even refers to it as "the country I love" and "our country", something that he would never say about England.
It is strange that 'English Conservatives' should be this way when Scottish Tories (for all their other failings) have no trouble at all speaking of, for and to Scotland, with an evident sense of Scottish pride.
As David McCrone remarked, "In an important sense, Scotland’s politicians are all Nationalists". The Scottish nationalists began to control the the political debate and the language of that debate in Scotland to such an extent that the Scottish Tories realised that they had to speak the language of Scotland and distance themselves from the Status-Quoism of the Westminster Tories; and many have also reached the conclusion that the Scottish Tories need 'independence' from the Conservative and Unionist Party in order to complete their rehabilitation.
English nationalists have a hell of a lot of work to do before the likes of David Cameron are forced to confront England in the same way that the Scottish Tories have come to terms with the fact that they must be Scottish first and British second. Unbelievably the Labour Party in England may be ahead of the Tories in that respect.
The Flaming Sword: Cameron, ‘the Country’ and England
BritologyWatch: David Cameron: Big society, not English government