Better Together’s panicked response plays into Alex Salmond’s hands

A combination of a despised ConDem Government in Westminster and a Labour Leader who has failed to connect with the party’s Scottish grassroots points very clearly to today’s visit being a waste of time.

Alex Salmond ncrj

A combination of a despised ConDem Government in Westminster and a Labour Leader who has failed to connect with the party’s Scottish grassroots points very clearly to today’s visit being a waste of time

If Scotland votes for independence next week, today’s panicked response from the UK party leaders could prove to be the final nail in the coffin of the Union as we know it.

Following the weekend’s YouGov polling putting the Yes camp ahead for the first time, the first response from those seeking to keep Scotland within the UK family was not promising, with the chancellor, George Osborne, rushing onto the Andrew Marr programme to declare, like a startled rabbit in the headlights, that the UK parties would be announcing a firm timetable for further devolution in the event of a No vote.

By Monday, more sensible heads seemed to have prevailed, with Gordon Brown seemingly taking a grip of the situation, outlining what the plan would be and when further powers could be handed to Scotland.

In doing so, he provided the kind of passion that Better Together has so far failed to show. It was a moment that gave a glimmer of hope.

Then came yesterday. Amidst the air of crisis surrounding all of them, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband collectively decided not to attend Prime Minister’s Questions and instead to make a dash for Scotland.

What the purpose of their visit will be, who knows. But one thing is for certain – it’s unlikely to make the situation any better for those fighting for the UK.

A combination of a despised ConDem Government in Westminster and a Labour Leader who has failed to connect with the party’s Scottish grassroots points very clearly to today’s visit being a waste of time.

Alex Salmond’s declaration that he would pay for the leader’s fares if they decided to come up by bus may be amusing, but it’s amusing in as much as it is true.

Rather than grandstanding and gesture politics of the worst and most unproductive kind, Cameron and co should have stuck to the mantra that Scotland should decide Scotland’s fate and let Gordon Brown take the fight to Alex Salmond during the final straight.

In going up en-masse today, all three of the UK party leaders have stuck their neck out and put their reputations on the line. If Scotland votes Yes next week, there will undoubtedly be calls for all three to resign as a collective admission of their failure to understand and connect properly with Scotland.

All of the UK parties have underestimated the power of Alex Salmond. It was David Cameron, in the face of opposition from the SNP, who opted not to allow Devo-Max on the ballot paper out of a complacent sense that Scotland would never vote for independence. What a failure.

And it is Labour which, in bungling its election campaigns in 2007 and 2011, that provided the SNP with the stronghold they now have at Holyrood. Labour took Scotland for granted and today we see the devastating results.

As the all three leaders catch the train to what is increasingly looking and feeling like a separate country, it seems increasingly likely that this will be their final journey before Scotland votes to keep them out permanently.

Alex Salmond should be preparing to have the last laugh.

15 Responses to “Better Together’s panicked response plays into Alex Salmond’s hands”

  1. Gary Scott

    I see the point. Dave & Co have had two years and flapping about at the last minute smacks of panic (which, of course, it is). But I don’t think all the blame can be pinned on poor old Dave or even Ed and Nick. In truth, this problem goes waaay back. Successive governments have taken Scotland for granted, either because it represents safe seats (Labour) or because its pointless (Conservative). Scotland has been a Labour ‘block vote’ for decades but MSPs also took their position for granted, their laziness was rewarded with an SNP landslide doing the impossible, a majority in a system designed to produce coalitions. Even then, rather than negotiate, they goaded, rather than concede power, they called the bluff of Alex Salmond, SNP and all of Scotland. Now its all or nothing for Dave. Look at it this way, if YOU lived in Scotland and it was already independent, would you vote to join up with Westminster?

  2. ed77

    Yes I would Gary, because it so obviously benefits Scotland. Not that there aren’t possible significant benefits in full independence, but one these will be a long time coming and two they would almost certainly accrue with full Devo-Max which is what Salmond should be pushing for if (as seems unlikely at the moment) he loses by a very narrow margin ie less than 1-3%.

  3. Leon Wolfeson

    If he had any sense he’d be pushing for a federal structure rather than exceptionalism for Scotland.

  4. Eric the viking

    British military blunders have a common link, which is to underestimate the enemy. Born out of pride and arrogance. Having said that, this campaign is built on nationalistic emotion and fear mongering that emanates from both sides, with neither knowing the full extent of the economic fall out. The only winners are politicians and the media. With what is now on the table, Scotland might as well vote for independence. In hind sight, as soon as the torys’ took office, a wall should have been built around London and declared an independent state. At which point, the rest of us could of lived in peace, far from the Westminster morons who have arrogantly divided a united kingdom.

  5. Lamia

    A new poll suggests 53% No to 47% Yes. It is possible that the journey of Westminster politicians to Scotland has had a better effect than predicted. Who knows how it will go on the day, but doing post-mortems and playing blame games now is a bit self-indulgent if you want Scotland to stay in the Union – as I’m guessing this blog does.

    And if Scotland separates from the union next week – I heartily hope it does not – I want to see rUK politicians getting together to sort out the best possible way forward for our country as soon as possible. I am not interested in pointless recriminations that will feed the already bloated egos of Salmond and Nats but not help the rUK in any way.

  6. Chrisso

    “All of the UK parties have underestimated the power of Alex Salmond. It was Cameron, in the face of opposition from the SNP, who opted not to allow Devo-Max on the ballot paper out of a complacent sense that Scotland would never vote for independence.”
    I said this a year ago. Cameron stepped right into a trap by refusing the popular third option of Devo-Max – whatever that is! He was poorly briefed and still is. His stubborn refusal to face Salmond in debate has shown him as feart. Such a pity that we don’t have a Salmond in England.

  7. sarntcrip

    a group of english toffs crossing the border to tell the scots what to do will greatly enhance salmond’s campaign as the polls slip back to no it is clear mondays reaction of the markets to te first yes poll has , as it should be more influential than anything else auguring , as it does,so badly for job and growth prospects in an indy scotland THE ENGLISH DON’T LISTEN TO LAME DUCK CAMERON WHY SHOULD THE SCOTS?

  8. sarntcrip

    if they vote no the english musrt defend their position if we are one country the same expenditure percapita should apply to ever scot every welsh person every ulster person and every english personit is not sustainable to financially favour one area of the union over another,devolution was flawed from the start in that respect, as it still is n the unsolved and routinely ignored west lothian question the huge cost of separate parliaments could have been avoided with each nation of the union voting on it’s individual issues and all on matters pertaining to the uk as a whole rocket science it ain’t

  9. Leon Wolfeson

    Oh come off it. We just need a proper federal structure, rather than the ad-hoc devoloution we have now.

  10. Guest

    Right, so take the fallout because …well, why?

    And I see, the British are morons, etc.

  11. Julia

    A very balanced assessment.

    I left the Labour Party with the rise of New Labour. I know for many loyalty is key. However for me loyalty to principals was far more important than Party.

    I only wish that the Labour Party in Scotland had been at the forefront of the YES movement.

    Pause and take a real hard look at values expressed by the Common Weal, Radical Independence , The Scottish Socialist Party, Labour for Independence and the SNP.

    Do you not share those values? Put aside that party rivalry and look at the desire.

    The Common Weal must be a shared value. Can we not unite there and resolve what divides us later.

    I am a socialist and a YES voter

  12. Julia

    Leon

    I’m sorry to challenge you as I would have shared your view 20 years ago.
    I’ll give one example – the Lords. For how long has that reform been promised and never addressed.
    Socialist values cannot be continually surrendered under the “new Labour mantra of …longest suicide note etc
    If the compromise for election is core values then a Federal UK is wishful thinking (I really wish it was not the case)

    The party membership I once cherished gives support to WMD / austerity cuts etc etc I cannot bear the level of compromise demanded.

  13. Julia

    A practical observation. The data for the poll you quote was taken BEFORE the visit.

  14. Leon Wolfeson

    Well, yes, the SNP’s movement has been really quite odd.

    And that’s why I also support voting reform.

  15. Lamia

    Fair point Julia. I stand corrected. However, I do believe Brown’s and Cameron’s performances were impressive and I hope they will have had a positive effect. And with the Scottish banks all saying they will decamp and supermarkets and other large retailers pointing out they won’t be able to keep Scottish prices down at UK-wide levels, Scots are being presented with plentiful evidence of some of what they have long been taking for granted and will lose in the event of separation. If they choose to characterise that evidence as scaremongering or a bluff, then heaven help them.

Leave a Reply