Scotland’s big beasts go head to head (sort of) over independence

Two of Scotland’s biggest political beasts will be pitched against each other later today in the debate over the country's future.

Two of Scotland’s biggest political beasts will be pitched against each other later today in the debate over the country’s future.

For the pro union camp, Gordon Brown will make a return to frontline political debate to launch Labour’s own campaign to keep Scotland within the United Kingdom, called ‘United with Labour’.

According to Scotland on Sunday, the former prime minister and MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, “is expected to argue that if Scottish Labour supporters vote to leave the UK it would mean abandoning colleagues in England to years of Tory rule”.

“Brown”, the paper reports, “will also suggest staying within the Union would mean it was far more likely that the Conservatives would be voted out at Westminster at the next general election, which would benefit Scotland as a whole”.

In outlining the opportunities that the new campaign will provide Labour to set out its own distinct vision for Scotland’s future, Anas Sarwar, deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party, has said:

“Our vision is for a fairer, better Scotland that stands strong within the UK, working in partnership with our neighbours.

“Constitutional politics brings together people who wouldn’t normally be on the same side and we will continue to work with the Better Together campaign. But the Labour movement has a different view of Scotland’s future from the Conservatives and Liberals.

“The referendum is the biggest decision the people of Scotland will face for 300 years and it is important that we have strong Labour voices speaking for the majority of Scots who believe we are better working together with our neighbours in the UK.”

The decision by Labour to establish its own campaign, separately from the official “Better Together” organisation led by Alistair Darling, is being seen as an attempt to appease those in the Labour movement who have been queasy about being associated too much with the Conservatives.

Shadow defence secretary, Jim Murphy, has previously said that he would not be prepared to appear alongside David Cameron as part of the campaign to save the Union, whilst Scotland on Sunday reports Dave Watson of Unison Scotland as having said:

“While I appreciate the referendum campaign has to have a formal Yes and No campaign, most of us in the Labour movement have a huge difficulty with any campaign that includes the Tories.”

Richard Leonard of the GMB union remarked:

“Let’s get out of the slipstream of the nationalists and the unionists and be ourselves.”

Following recent polling by Ipsos Mori showing a decline in support for independence, deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon will also be in Glasgow in an effort to regain the initiative with an attempted relaunch. Declaring her confidence that Scotland will support the nationalist’s calls for independence, she will declare:

“I am convinced, from talking to people across the country, that there is a natural majority in Scotland for independence. What do I mean by that? I mean that people will vote Yes if we can persuade them that it opens the door to a wealthier and fairer country.

“We believe that Scotland should be governed here at home, from our own Parliament, and not from Westminster; that we should hold the powers in our own hands to shape a nation that lives up to our ambitions of fairness and prosperity; that we should have no one else to blame if we fail to do so; and that we should have a new relationship of equals with our friends across these islands. That is the vision that can win the argument and win the referendum.”

Meanwhile, despite the Better Together camp distancing them from him, UKIP Leader Nigel Farrage has himself trodden into the debate on Scotland’s future. In an effort to make his party relevant north of the border, he said over the weekend:

“The debate on Scottish independence has been entirely false. Alex Salmond has never been properly challenged on how can Scotland be independent and be a member of the EU. I think the SNP’s case is holed below the water line.

“The SNP are happy to substitute one form of government for an ever bigger and more remote form of government, over which they will have very little influence. If that happens, you may as well bulldoze the Scottish Parliament and let Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, run the place.

“You cannot be a democratic, self-governing nation and a member of the EU. You have to choose. That is why I think this referendum is the wrong way round. Before we sort out what our constitutional arrangements in the UK are going to be, we should first sort out whether the UK is independent or not.”

Amidst such a flurry of interventions in the debate, the Sunday Herald this weekend called for the debate to properly get going. Declaring that “much of the debate has so far resembled little better than a tired and jaded rehash of a traditional political campaign”, the paper’s editorial observed:

“The audience of tomorrow’s speeches says its all: Sturgeon is addressing Yes activists, while Brown will deliver a Labour message to a vetted Labour audience.

“So far, the case on each side has been targeted at people who have already made up their minds. The ‘debate’ itself seems to have consisted of a series of angry press releases, endless questions and manufactured Twitter rows.”

It continued:

“In 2007, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama traded blows in a series of fantastic debates in the primary contest to become the Democratic party candidate, leaving no-one in the dark about where each candidate stood on the issues.

“In Scotland, a far greater emphasis should be placed on a series of public debates, not stage-managed rallies for the already converted.  The alternative is to turn the opportunity of a lifetime into a squandered opportunity.”

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7 Responses to “Scotland’s big beasts go head to head (sort of) over independence”

  1. Alec

    If Brown’s getting involved, we might as well set-up checkpoints at Berwick and start building the foreign embassies.

  2. Eddy Boyband

    Prime example of why England needs its own parliament.

  3. SadButMadLad

    The curse of the prime mentalist will strike again.

    Considering that GB hardly ever gets involved in anything as he’s so busy gallivanting around the world giving speeches its surprising that he managed to make some time for the cause of Scotland. He must really believe in it. Or more likely, he knows that if Scotland went independent Labour would lose 40 odd seats meaning that the UK will be Tory run for ever more.

  4. Alec

    Any loss of Scottish MPs would be countered by the natural reduction of total seats. The GEs in 2005, 2001 and 1997 all would have returned Labour majorities without the Scottish MPs.

    That said, right about Brown. “Return to front line politics”? Hardly. That would require his setting foot inside Westminster, which he didn’t do even for the vote on marriage-equality. He’s a moral coward and intellectual fraud who’s incapable of addressing anything which requires weighing and considering complicated ethical questions.


  5. Chris Brown

    So the ‘No’ campaign will have the efforts of both Brown and Darling……that’ll help a lot.

  6. Chris Brown

    So the ‘No’ campaign will have the efforts of both Brown and Darling……that’ll help a lot.

  7. Alec

    Darling is quite good. As Chancellor, he did an admirable job of unmessing the mess his predecessor had created.


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