Support 110 years of independent journalism.

Will Cameron’s “effing Tories” remark help or hurt the No side?

The PM told Scots that the referendum was not about giving "the effing Tories" a kick. 

By George Eaton

Last week, in an attempt to stop the tribal anti-Toryism in Scotland pushing voters towards the Yes camp, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson declared that it was not “likely” that her party would win the general election. Today, in his speech in Edinburgh, David Cameron went even further and told Scots that they would have other opportunities to give “the effing Tories” a kick. 

He said

Sometimes, because it’s an election, because it’s a ballot, I think people can feel it’s a bit like a general election. That you make a decision and five years later you can make another decision. If you’re fed up with the effing Tories give them a kick, and then maybe we’ll think again. This is totally different. This is a decision about, not the next five years, but the next century.

It is a mark of Cameron’s desperation that he is prepared to so explicitly acknowledge his party’s toxic brand, but will it help or hinder the No campaign? The PM’s words could remind voters of precisely the point he made: that the referendum is not a judgement on one government, but on a 307-year-old Union.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Alternatively, they could be seen as profoundly patronising (many Yes supporters want to kick Westminster, not just the Tories) and another sign of panic. Cameron’s comments will also surely be clipped by the nationalists to make it appear that he simply declared: “If you’re fed up with the effing Tories give them a kick”. The obvious rejoinder is that Scotland has regularly kicked the Tories but has still had to endure years of Conservative government.

Yet at this desperately late stage, the PM is probably right that the biggest risk is not to take any. 

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action