Momentum builds for Scotland’s ‘Yes to Independence’ campaign

Just days after Alex Salmond fired the starting gun on the two and a half year “Yes to Independence” campaign, the weekend’s press has been full of talk of tactics on both sides of the debate.

E-mail-sign-up Donate



Just days after Alex Salmond fired the starting gun on the two and a half year “Yes to Independence” campaign, the weekend’s press has been full of talk of tactics on both sides of the debate.

Scotland-Yes-to-Independence-declarationScotland on Sunday political editor Eddie Barnes reported on the YesScotland campaign’s decision to target so called “soft Nat” Labour voters which it feels could be persuaded to support the independence cause.

Having seen former Scottish Labour MP Dennis Canavan, Labour supporter Brian Cox, and former GMB regional secretary for Scotland, Tommy Brennan, placed at the forefront of the campaign alongside Alex Salmond, speaking to Scotland on Sunday, a spokesman for “YesScotland” argued that attracting independence-supporting Labour supporters to the cause would prove “key to the vote.

To underline the effort, Humza Yousaf, SNP MSP for Glasgow and parliamentary aide to Alex Salmond, made an explicit pitch to Labour, concluding in a guest piece for the Guardian on Saturday:

The truth is that the Scottish Labour party within an independent Scotland will be allowed to flourish; no longer constrained by having to walk on eggshells in fear of causing embarrassment to London colleagues or the party leadership by way of contradiction.

“The Labour party was born and founded on the Scottish egalitarian principles of Keir Hardie and Robert Cunninghame Graham and the only way to rediscover their Scottish soul is with independence from London.

“Independence is much bigger than the SNP, than Alex Salmond, David Cameron or Ed Miliband. As uncomfortable as this may be for some, the truth is that an independent Scotland can only benefit from both a Labour party true to its own roots and a strong, progressive SNP.”


See also:

Salmond quits stalling and finally launches independence campaign – as poll says ‘no’ May 25 2012

Galloway to square up to Salmond over independence 14 May 2012

MPs accuse SNP of “biased” independence question 8 May 2012


To compound the effort and to the embarrassment one suspects of many within Scottish Labour, Sunday also saw the Herald carry an advertisement revealing former Labour first minister Jack (now Lord) McConnell’s chief of staff, Jeane Freeman, was supporting the push for independence.

In outlining her long-held support for the notion of an independent Scotland, she told the Sunday Herald:

“I’m certainly not going to say I support independence and sit on my hands. I want Scots to be convinced it’s the right thing for themselves and their kids. I’ll be talking to women in all parties and particularly women in business.”

Responding to the developments, a spokesman for Scottish Labour argued:

“The SNP would be better trying to convince their own voters, since this week’s poll showed only just over half of them back independence.

“Most people in Scotland know we are stronger and better being part of the UK. Social justice and fairness are best achieved by working in partnership, not competition, with our neighbours, which is why most people on the Left in Scotland are quite unconvinced.”

Meanwhile, in talk of a campaign that would “focus on everyday people and their lives”, the Sunday Herald has outlined the likely shape of the campaign to oppose independence, due to be started next month.

In its report, the paper notes that the campaign will:

• Remain focussed on a positive message;

• Be led by the former chancellor, Alistair Darling, alongside a board constituting of former Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie, former UK Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy, the Labour MSPs Richard Baker and Jackie Baillie, Tory MSP David McLetchie, and Scottish Lib Dem convener Craig Harrow;

• Run and managed by Blair McDougall, special adviser to the former work and pensions secretary, James Purnell, someone known to be close to shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy.

In pledging to build the campaign up slowly, a spokesman told the Sunday Herald:

“This is a hell of a long campaign. We’re not convinced the public are engaged or excited by it yet. But politics is all about momentum. We have the momentum and he [Salmond] does not.

“The Yes campaign really needs to be ahead going into this, because usually the numbers tighten, but they’re only supported by a third of people.”

In its advice meanwhile, the Labour supporting Daily Record, argued on Saturday that the pro-independence campaign still had many questions to answer; its editorial observed:

There are questions here for Labour and the other parties opposed to independence. And those questions revolve around the importance of putting together a positive message about why Scotland is stronger within Britain and not outside it.

“It’s about reclaiming the Saltire and sending out the positive message that it is patriotic and Scottish to stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbours and cousins south of the Border and across the water in Northern Ireland.

“To coin Robert Burns, Labour and others must shout it out with clarity and conviction… A Man’s a Man for A’ That.

“Yes, we are different nations – but we are cut from the same cloth. And we are stronger together.”


Sign-up to our weekly email • Donate to Left Foot Forward

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.