Saturday 13 February 2010


What is Labour’s position today on a referendum about Scotland’s future?

Now, I may be rather confused on this, because let’s face it, it has changed so much in a short time. First, I seem to remember, it was that they didn’t want a referendum; and then suddenly Wendy, in an “I lost the plot for a second” moment, famously announced a change of plans in her “Bring it on” interview.

Don’t we all remember wee Iain Gray sputtering and stuttering through an interview on BBC, trying to explain that that was consistent with their previous views and not in fact a 179 degree change? And remember too how Wendy said that she had discussed it with Gordon, and how reports reached us that Gordon was busy filling in expenses forms for 5 new Nokias and some occasional furniture for Downing Street as a result of her “big mouth”?

Then there was a “don’t bring it on” phase when Gordon found a Nokia that still worked and reminded Wendy that HE was leader of Labour in Scotland and HE made the policy. Of course the face saver was that we couldn’t have a referendum while the country was in a r r r r r recession (there, it’s not that hard to say Gordo). It wasn’t that Labour didn’t trust the people to decide about their own future. What Wendy meant was: “bring it on sometime in the future”. At the moment it would only distract from the efforts to get the country out of the mess that it was in.

Soooooooo... it is something of a mystery to me that Labour, still insisting that we can’t have a referendum for the above reasons, has just agreed to a referendum in Wales on increased law making powers for the Cardiff Assembly, and another referendum proposed by no less a personage than Gordon Brown himself, on his new voting proposals.

The only possible reason that Labour would be backing referenda proposed in Wales and in England, and yet opposing one in Scotland, would be that Wales and England are no longer in recession and people are no longer losing jobs, and everything is just dandy.... which, even for Labour, is stretching the importance of the 0.1% growth figures recently announced.

I have another suggestion. Isn’t it more likely that Labour fears that once the Independence question is raised and aired properly; once arguments are being put forward by the two sides... the benefits of independence will be so overwhelming that there is a chance that, despite the recent figures which seem not to support this, the referendum will pass.

The arguments are good; the economics work; the scaremongering will be blasted out of the water (yes, you will still be allowed to visit your Granny in Carlisle) and most of all perhaps, the “For” argument will be put by a reasonably popular politician. Whereas the “Against” argument will be put by Gordon Brown (not the most popular or charismatic man in the country), David Cameron (whose Tories have limited support in Scotland) and Nick Clegg (whose profile is so low in Scotland as to be below radar).

One thing, however, is for sure. Once again Labour in London has left wee Iain out to dry. Just like the humiliation of Gordon’s English Labour supporting minimum pricing of alcohol, the head office has run a coach and horses through Scottish Labour’s "policies"


  1. Unless I am mistaken the referenda proposed in Wales and in England do not entail smashing the United Kingdom apart.

  2. Mr Myxomotosis, nevertheless they say we cannot afford a referendum in Scotland but we can in England and Wales. And anyway as the unionists are going to win according to you and your well learned mantra why not have it, win and get it out the way?

  3. "Once again Labour in London has left wee Iain out to dry. Just like the humiliation of Gordon’s English Labour supporting minimum pricing of alcohol, the head office has run a coach and horses through Scottish Labour’s "policies"."

    If you want to compare the difference between the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib-Dems in Scotland it is easy.

    The Conservatives have regional managers in Annabel Goldie and Tavish Scott who wield authority in their region but who can be and are overridden by Head Office quite frequently.

    Labour have no regional manger in Scotland and no regional organisation but they have an Office Manager in Iain Gray whose authority runs no further than the doors of the Parliament building in Holyrood.

    Scottish Labour doesn't exist and Iain Gray doesn't lead them.

    Any policy snubs by the Labour high command are not snubs to Labour in Scotland just to the Labour MSP's. To be honest I don't know if "snub" is the right word to use because that implies that London Labour consider that Iain Gray and his merry band are important enough to snub.

    The problem for Gray, Goldie and Scott is that even though two of them have regional authority none leads a party and all are low down in the hierarchy of their British parties. When up against Salmond who does lead his party and who has the authority and confidence that brings they are lost.

    Whatever policies the three decide on they know that they have to be approved by high command in London and can, as Iain Gray has found out, be changed at any moment without consultation.

    The SNP believe that they can make decisions and run Scotland without getting approval from London. They have self-belief and self-respect two things which are sadly missing from Iain Gray as he accepts the insults and indifference from London while he just sits there and takes them, just as Annabel Goldie did when she didn't get the invite to that private Conservative dinner in Scotland.

    That willingness in the unionists politicians in Scotland just to sit there and take it is the essential difference between the SNP and the other three parties.

  4. Doug,

    Annabel Goldie is our Scottish leader, she is no 'regional manager'.

    The history of the SCOTTISH tory movement is rich and unarguably independent from the Conservative movement in England & Wales.

    We were 'unionists', 'liberal unionists' and 'Conservatives' in a broad church coalition of fellowship, progress and consensus. Even after the merger was agreed we still remain the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party, with a distinct command in Edinburgh.

    Cameron is not the 'leader in Scotland', Annabel Goldie is.

  5. Don't you think Niko, that that's rather emotive terminology? You seem to assume that the SNP would win the referendum then and "smash" your beloved union with Big Brother.

    We tend to see it rather as an opportunity for the Scottish people to have their say, for better or worse, for richer for poorer, together or apart.....

  6. Excellent post Doug, but your assertion that Scottish Labour doesn't exist and Iain Gray doesn't lead them, whilst true, doesn't do justice to the fact that they do sometimes come up with policies and put them forward. And London Labour, to be fair don't appear to tell them to ditch the policy, they just have one totally at odds with it, making Labour in Scotland look rather alone, and very foolish.

  7. Dean. I have heard that Scottish Conservatives have a lot more autonomy than Labour, but can you explain why Mr Cameron had, what most of us thought the crass bad manners to hole a funding meeting in Scotland without the presence of either Ms Goldie or the Shadow Scottish Secretary.

    This really seems an odd thing to do if Annabel is in charge.

  8. Munguin: This is the question I have been asking myself. When you are absolutely certain that you will win something, why not go for it?

    You bury the subject for 10 years at least and you get plaudits, or at least can claim them for trusting in the will of the people.

  9. Dean:

    Annabel Goldie is our Scottish leader, she is no 'regional manager'.

    I've searched through the Electoral Commission's register of political parties and there is no Scottish Conservative Party.

    There is a Conservative Party with its registered leader as David Cameron and if Annabel is a member of that one then she is just a regional leader.

    If David Cameron is not your leader and Annabel Goldie doesn't take orders from him you'd better inform the Electoral Commission PDQ.

  10. Uou are forgetting Dean that the last time the "Tories" had any power in Scotland and they did after the second World War it was under the banner of the Scottish Progressive and Unionist Party.

    It all went downhill very quickly when the Conservatives took over.

    I suggest you read Gerry Hassan on this.

  11. Munguin

    Is being 'economical with the actualité I have a copy of his book on me Blog in which he argues Independence would be no! no! for scotland

  12. Bugger,

    Cheers for that I think I may do just that. And on that note, have you heard the rumours that I did from the conference that if we flat line, or lose our 1 MP we may see the Scots Tory Party be made independent again [the name currently talked about was the 'Scottish Reform Party']...I heard it from one of our own MSPs, so it must be a floater certainly!

    I have to say I rather like the idea.

  13. Dean

    So would I and I would not vote Tory but they deserve their position in Scotland for the sake of Scotland.

    Would that the LibDum and The "Scottish" labour groups did the same.

  14. Floater good description for a conservative

  15. Dean:

    ...we may see the Scots Tory Party be made independent again...

    What would that achieve? A right wing Scottish unionist party cut off from the funding stream coming from the British Conservatives and without the threat of independence that the SNP wield would be an irrelevance. The classic unionist dilemma would rear its ugly head, a right wing party patriotic for the wrong country.

    The only way that they could wield power in Westminster and get their "Scottish" policies implemented would be as the Kingmakers in a hung parliament and annoy the English and the rest of Britain because they were demanding extras for the Scots.

    In a Scottish Parliament they would promise what they could do with the block grant that Westminster gave them and the limited powers available to them. Exactly what Labour, the Lib-dems and the SNP would promise except the SNP would have the option of pulling Scotland out of the UK if they got enough support.

    Outwith the British Conservatives the, "Scottish Reform", would have no chance to gain ministerial positions in a Conservative Government in Westminster with no career path for ambitious right-wingers unless there was a pact where the "Scottish Reform" and the British Conservatives became almost one party which would mean that they'd be back where they started from...

    I'm actually all for it because it would finally kill off the Conservatives in Scotland.

    Not that it will ever happen.

  16. Mr Mxyzptlk,

    Childish, offensive, pathetic. There is a description of your irrational hatred.

  17. Niko...

    I agree with Dean. That was offensive; Dean’s a Tory and a bloody nice guy.

    Some of the Tory policies are horrible, and some of them as people are horrible; but then you could say the same of Labour. As for the SNP, I have to say I’ve not found a policy that I could describe as horrible, although some are silly, but I’ve certainly met some pretty grim supporters. One of the least agreeable people I ever met was a strong SNP man.

    So we all have them. Just don't class everyone by the ones that you've met.

  18. Mr Myxomotosis:

    “I’m only crying on the outside, my pain is just skin deep, if you could see inside, the pain I hide, you’d join me for a weep!” Gordon Brown AKA The Joker!

  19. I don't know Doug. I'd rather see a Scottish Tory Party in parliament, totally independent of David Cameron's English party, and not just Dave, but the spin doctors and advisors he sends to Edinburgh.

    There have been examples where it seems that London has been telling them what to do, and these are when they are at their worst and their least relevant.

    I think that AG has been a far better opposition leader than Iain Gray, and at her best she manages to ask good questions of the FM. (Gray is a muppet who never gets the question right, and is stupid enough not to see when he’s on a loser, and when he should go to his back up questions for his supplementaries). Scotland needs an opposition, and Gray (and the rest of his motley bunch) seems utterly incapable of providing it.

    A Tory Party, call it what you will, independent of the “ignorant” (and I mean that word in its real sense) influence of London, would hold Salmond to account more effectively, and give us better government.

    For a short time it’s fortuitous that the leader of the opposition is almost criminally stupid, but in the long term it makes for complacency and that may lead to sloppy government.

    I dunno... just throwing in a few thought. You’ve obviously given the matter a deal of thought

  20. Munguin:

    Normally I’d jump on that from a great height. The man lost his daughter only days old and that must be the most unbearable thing for a man to live through.

    However, he could have avoided the mention of it. It could have been a “off limits” area in the agreement for this interview. But it wasn’t. It was shameful use of his tragedy for political purposes. Had I not detested the man before, I should certainly have done so now... and all the worse because of his previous protestations (used against David Cameron who did talk about his family, including wee Ivan) that he wouldn’t use his family as props. (I can’t remember the exact quote.)

    On that basis, I think it is fair to have a go at him for it. Hard to believe this DH is a son of the manse.

  21. Buggar: I agree. A fair and decent society has a wide range of political views and its parliament should reflect this.

  22. Tris he said:

    “Some people have been asking why I haven’t served my children up for spreads in the papers. And my answer is simple. My children aren’t props, they’re people.”

    But only until he is in danger of losing an election then they are served up posthumously on the tears for Piers show.

  23. DH for those not in the know is Sarah Browns (the First Lady of these great United Kingdoms) pet name for bubbles Brown her hubby. It stands for Dear Husband: I know so sickening it brings a real tear to your eye.

  24. Thanks for the quote Mungion. I had an idea that it was along these lines.

    The Darling husband is too sickening for words, and the partonising Twtter nonsense about his being untidy and noisy when sport in on the television, and that he's just like any other man (How does she know; how many has she lived with?), was nauseating...

    These people deserve each other.

  25. Tris:

    I don't like or trust Annabel Goldie. In the furore about Al-Megrahi she tried to link Alex Salmond's visit to Qatar when he was seeking funds for the SFT with the release of Al-Megrahi and in the current frenzy surrounding Nicola Sturgeon she's tried to imply that the letter was only sent because of a direct party or funding link between Rauf and the SNP.

    In each case implying political, financial or legal corruption in the SNP Government.

    I'm not sure of why everyone is so concerned that the unionist opposition in Holyrood is so feeble. You only need an effective opposition if there is a need to counter an incompetent Government and the SNP Government is certainly not incompetent.

    I have come across the, "Scottish Tory Party", proposal before but it doesn't take much thought to work out why it will neither work for Scotland nor ever get off the drawing board.

  26. Doug: I grant you all the fact that you state regarding the smearing of Salmond over the A-Megrahi case, and I certainly have no idea whether that was a line that she took on her own, or from London.

    I beg to differ however on not needing opposition.

    As I said, I think it may lead to complacency and sloppiness in time. I'm not saying it has thus far, but even Salmond, one of my personal heros, is not perfect. Well not "quite" perfect LOL

  27. Tris has made a number of good points.

    AG is the most competent opposition leader, not just in holding SNP administration to account. But more specifically, and from my perspective, more adept at getting concessions out of Salmond.

    She has managed to find room for cooperation with the SNP to see some of our policies rolled out into government, all the while maintaining our position as the leading opposition Party.

    And she pushed through a pro-Calman position despite strong residual opposition from her own backwoodsmen. Not to mention the towncentre regeneration fund, something I passionately believe to be positive policy step for my lot.

    However, she has shown a worrying habit of letting herself be battered into following a 'London Line' on some of the 'scandals' at Holyrood. But then, she is autonomous as she can be, all the money comes from England to fund our fight backs in the key marginals. We need London as a Party more than they need us in some ways.

  28. That's the trouble about being a small region attached to a big country Dean.

    She has to tow the English line; that's who gives you the money.

    I'm sory mate, you're making a very good case for independence here. Surely it's humiliating having your line decided 400 miles away by people who may never have even been in Scotland and who really don't know or care what our issues are?