Sunday, 12 June 2011
Unionism and Independence
Last week again the MSM were making the agenda in Scottish politics by continuing to concentrate on the independence referendum and the result of a small poll, which stated support had increased by 6%, sent them into overdrive.
Meantime the Scottish government concentrated on the care of the elderly, job creation and the economy to name but a few national issues. However all the MSM wants to discuss at present is the referendum and I'm sure Alex Salmond is quite content for them to linger as long as they like on this particular issue, as long as they do give some column width to other important proceedings.
Last week the Guardian's Kevin McKenna wrote a rather weird article about Scotland and independence but this week he has redeemed himself somewhat and faced a few home truths.
The Unionists don't know where to turn now that they've realised the people are fully aware the last SNP government did more for Scotland than the Unionists did in 12 years of devolution and for 40 years prior to 1999.
They have to find a counter-argument to the SNP's desire for independence and they've been meeting in non-smoke-filled rooms. It's reported the Tories and Labour want John (now a Lord) Reid to lead the campaign to keep Scotland within the UK. Nothing less than a Lord will do.
Influential figures within the two main UK parties believe that Reid is the "obvious choice" to take on Alex Salmond.
He would be excellent from a nationalist point of view. The Scottish MP Tom Harris refers to his colleague as 'popular and trusted'. That may well be in close Labour circles, but many people in Scotland associate John Reid with the Afghanistan war when he promised, in 2006, that the extra troops he was sending to the conflict would leave again 'without a shot being fired'. Since then over 200 of our armed forces have lost their lives.
They also remember how he augmented his MP's salary by securing a £50,000 job with a private security company - G4S - which operated in Iraq and continues to operate in Afghanistan.
Mr Reid's biggest 'claim to fame' though was when he was Leader of the House of Commons in the immediate aftermath of the decision to invade Iraq and was responsible for swinging support for the invasion among Labour MPs. Throughout the UK millions objected to the then Labour government's invasion of Iraq but their voices were ignored. John Reid was one of the protagonists who steadfastly stood shoulder to shoulder with Tony Blair.
To add to their woes Ed Balls (of all people) is to set up a task-force to fight for Scotland's place in the UK. Will John Reid be heid bummer? Now he's decided to throw in the towel as chairman of Celtic FC, he may well think, with time on his hands, why not. The Unionists' problem is he's the past not the future. Too many older Scottish Labour MPs and ex-MPs carry too much baggage from the Iraq/Blair/Brown era.
A look at Alex Salmond's cabinet shows the SNP are intent on looking and moving forward. Populations like positive, up-beat governance.
Should John Reid head any 'No' campaign I very much doubt if the news would send a meagre ripple throughout the SNP. Nonetheless, Alex Salmond isn't one to become complacent because he knows Labour does have a strong core vote, but as long as he adheres to being honest with the electorate he has little to fear.
Note: In the spirit of fairness - that politically ill-defined buzzword - the Labour party is offering membership to all under 27s for 1p. No conditions appear to be attached but a 'source' informs me that those joining at the special rate and who live outside Scotland must be prepared to travel to Scotland to campaign when required and pay for their own food and accommodation. Travel will be subsidised but a considerable percentage will be charged. Cheap at twice the price!