DAVID Cameron raised the stakes in the independence debate last week by insisting that it would be "foolish" to abandon Trident in the Clyde when there is a growing threat from countries like North Korea.

I'm not sure it was entirely wise to suggest that we might be on Kim's target list. Are we to assume that our Trident missiles are now potentially targeting Pyongyang?

Residents of Scotland's largest conurbation might wonder if it is a good idea to have weapons of mass destruction – which are illegal under international law – on our doorstep if they are liable to attract the attention of rogue nuclear states. Even the former Tory defence secretary, Michael Portillo, said Cameron's intervention was "absurd".

But the PM seems to believe Trident is a key plank in the "positive" case for the Union. A majority of Scots seem to disagree, according to opinion polls, and think that there are better things to spend £100 billion on than a useless virility symbol.

David Cameron also believes the Coalitions's welfare reforms will bolster the Union by targeting scroungers and skivers who set fire to their children. But Scots do not seem over-keen on weapons of social mass destruction like the bedroom tax, which is shaping up to be the poll tax of the 21st century.

It is "a reckless social experiment" according to the Yes Scotland campaign, who believe the bedroom tax will help win the referendum for independence. Nicola Sturgeon has promised to reverse it in an independent Scotland. With Labour also attacking the tax there was a serious danger last week of cross-party unity breaking out in Scotland. Except, of course, for the poor Scottish Liberal Democrats, who have been left twisting in the wind, defending the indefensible.

Could the bedroom tax galvanise the independence vote in the same way the 1987 poll tax fuelled demand for the Scottish Parliament?

The bedroom tax and its associated cuts have brought thousands onto the streets and the same coalition of charities, churches and trades unions seem to be lining up against the Tory welfare reforms. The bedroom tax is part of a constellation of welfare reforms being introduced by a Conservative-led government in Westminster that is simultaneously cutting taxes on the rich.

And this isn't just the odd few pounds we are talking about. Earners like Ian Marchant, the boss of SEE (Scottish and Southern Energy), which was fined a record sum for "mis-selling" last week, will be in line for a £40,000 tax reduction on his reported £1 million pay packet. Andy Hornby, the former chief executive of HBOS, also criticised last week in the strongest possible terms by a Commons report, will be in line for a similar cash-back. Amusingly, Hornby is now chief executive of the bookmaker, Coral – a fitting destination for the former boss of a bank that had to be rescued with £20bn of public money after recklessly gambling with its shareholders funds.

What infuriated Scots was the perceived unfairness of the poll tax, and while the bedroom tax may not be on the same scale of infamy, it is incredibly damaging to introduce it at the same time as indiscriminately rewarding "wealth-creators" such as the bankers who brought Britain to the brink of financial destruction. It is all about double standards.

As with the poll tax, these measures are being introduced by a government led by a party which has been rejected at successive elections by the Scottish voters. Support for the Conservative Party in Scotland is as low, or lower, than it was in 1997 when they were wiped out at the General Election.

History may not be repeating itself, but there are pretty clear echoes of the 1980s. In fact, with the privatisation of health, the cutting (in real terms) of welfare benefits, and taxing bedrooms, the Cameron Conservatives are going further than Margaret Thatcher dared.

Of course, times – and attitudes – change. We should beware of assuming that Scots voters are more fond of welfare than English voters. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Service's own survey recently concluded that "negative public attitudes towards benefits recipients is a major obstacle for charities".

A much-quoted YouGov survey last month suggested that eight out of 10 Scots approve of the £26,000 benefits cap, and think people who have been offered a job should take it rather than stay on benefits. But these are hard propositions to oppose, whatever your attitude to welfare. There is only a tiny handful of families – if any – in Scotland getting £26,000 in benefits.

The biggest shock this month will be the discovery that it is the working poor who are being hit hardest by many of the welfare changes. Benefits that are uprated by less than inflation – 1% – are being cut in real terms and a lot of those "hard-working families" will find they no longer get tax credits or child benefits. This autumn will see the introduction of the Universal Credit, which is supposed to replace a raft of existing benefits and make for a simpler and cheaper system.

But changes like these invariably create more losers than winners, and they tend to be a great deal more vocal.

Better Together will argue that this is nothing to do with them, and nothing to do with the Union. You can't blame the UK for George Osborne. Nor is there any guarantee that an independent Scottish government would have been any more willing or able to discipline HBOS or RBS.

However, it is equally the case that the policies being pursued by successive governments in Westminster have caused a profound sense of moral unease north of the Border. Labour, after all, were ultimately responsible for the credit bubble that blew up in 2008 with disastrous consequences. It was Tony Blair who launched the war on welfare as well as the war in Iraq. The renewal of Trident is a cross-party decision in Westminster.

These may not be the issues that decide the referendum. But it puts increased pressure on those who support the Union to show that it is possible to reject Trident and Tory tax policies without breaking up Britain.