Super Trouper

Some very good responses to England, My England – varied in tone but enlightening. I’ll press ahead with a manifesto of sorts and post it and email it to Nigel Farage. What do you think?

Meantime, I think there’s another issue we need to bear in mind…those who are looking to a No vote and a Labour general election victory to save Britain. It is this: the day after a narrow No victory, it is Labour and no one else who is under the spotlight. If Yes loses, the same intense scrutiny currently applied to the positive campaign will be turned against the No side – and don’t expect the Tories to take any blame. It will be Labour and specifically Johann Lamont who will feel the heat of explaining what she will deliver, how it will be done and when.


She will be the one who told us we didn’t need independence to achieve the goal of transforming society, that we should continue to enjoy the benefits of shared resources and she will deliver the powers to propel us into a prosperous future. It wont just be Alex Salmond but the whole nation – the Unionists too who backed her – who say: Over to you, Johann.

She will become the effective leader of the devo max campaign, explaining in detail what new powers will come and what impact they will have. She will outline how they will meet the ambition of the voters – as she herself has often said, their desire is for better devolution – and why they are superior to independence in combatting poverty, building homes, saving lives and the environment and creating a better Scotland.

From that moment on, the Yes campaign in the country which will, unlike Better Together, continue to grow, and the MSPs at Holyrood, will begin a ceaseless demand for detail, updates, explanations and timescales on Labour’s new powers.

The first phase will be in the run-up to the UK general election next May (2015) when, instead of deprecating the SNP’s failure in the referendum and using it as a device against them, Labour will be in the position of describing how their own extremely limited proposals will work in practice, an exercise Johann flunked at launch. Accompanying this tricky proposition will be voices coming from England – in both Commons and country – making clear they are fed up with debating the minutiae of Scottish devolution and in any case, the Scots have spoken and said No to real change when they had the chance. Labour campaigners will be keen to keep away from the topic throughout the election – I doubt that Yes people will let them.

The second phase is in the run up to the Scottish election the following May (2016) when there is no possibility of Labour having delivered on pre-referendum promises, even if Miliband is Prime Minister and the same dilemma faces Labour of a poor Scottish team, poorly led, floundering when they should be profiting up against the same experienced SNP team, benefiting, I should think, from a retrospective sympathy vote from the narrow referendum defeat as well as the respect earned from nine years of government. At this stage even a Miliband government in London will be sticking to Tory austerity budgets to add to the difficult sell of Labour in Scotland where the sense of what-might-have-been will be palpable.

Does anyone see Johann handling this pressure and scrutiny? Is there any evidence from the last three years that she has earned a deep respect and therefore the understanding of Scots…or that her grasp of policy and presentation has prepared her for the toughest period of her leadership?


And imagine just how thorny the thicket gets if Cameron sneaks back in again and the second half of Osborne’s cuts programme begins to bite while Labour stands helplessly on the sidelines with the clamour of the Scots ringing in their ears.

There are a couple of other possibilities here – in the event of a narrow No. The first is that Johann takes the opportunity to step aside, claiming that she has achieved her objective of winning the council elections and securing the future of the Union. That way she leaves the job to someone else, begging the obvious question…

The other is in a way a much more intriguing question than what becomes of another so-called Labour leader – what role does the SNP want to adopt? As a government, it can’t sulk, it has to carry on and, in keeping with its founding principles, will do its best for the people of Scotland who will have spoken. (You’ll notice I dismiss the idea of anyone other than the SNP in power. Is a Labour/Lib Dem or Lab/Con pact possible to keep them out?)

In this scenario the SNP could, if it chose, deny Labour the ill-fitting mantle of the party of devo max by adopting it for itself. There would be logic in this after (if) the Scots have declined independence because it would mean saying: We accept the verdict, the next best option is significant new powers and arrangements and we are its champions. Labour failed to come up with a credible option when they had years to do so, therefore we take up the challenge. This is our Plan B.

One of the problems for Labour posing as the devo max party is their failure to add it to the ballot paper when offered the chance. I have no doubt that was Salmond’s original intention insofar as he found himself with a referendum he didn’t want – it was too soon – and realised another stage might be required to get us to full independence. He would have accepted a second question – the very reason the Unionists denied it. So the SNP could retain the longer-term ambition of independence while turning itself into the champions of devo max, winning public support and challenging Labour –again – on what should be their home ground.


I see John McTernan in the Scotsman today offering an Ed Miliband How I Will Win Scotland speech which talks about Labour’s ability to end the Tory misery. Putting aside the obvious weakness that Labour is signed up to Tory spending plans and as far as I can see has not even responded to the Council of Europe judgement that UK benefits are so low they are illegal, the difficulty with the McTernan proposition is the political cycle. That is, the Tories will get in again. It doesn’t matter that Labour gets five years trying to undo some damage – but not too much – and not replacing Tory cuts as Balls has pledged, if at the next election they are thrown out and another bunch of Tories are elected. The trend in Britain is further and further right so the next lot will be worse than Cameron’s. Independence means never having to say we’re Tory.

Even if you have McTernan’s touchingly naïve belief in Labour, they can only last until the next Tory victory and the hamster wheel of failure continues to spin.

Enough! We have the power in September to end all this and strike out on our own path without them.




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38 thoughts on “Super Trouper

  1. Lamont won’t survive a no vote and I wonder even if Labour in Scotland will when it dawns on the electorate that their cupboard is as bare as old mother Hubbard”s. A No vote will bring more chaos than a Yes vote, only most people don’t yet realise that.

    Interesting to speculate, but focus must remain on a Yes win.

  2. Derek

    When Scotland votes NO do you honestly, in your heart of hearts, believe that the Scottish people – already sick to the back teeth of politicians droning on about the referendum – will have an appetite for more constitutional bickering?

    • Andy MacNicol

      Ah! The usual Lab/Tory/Lib response to awkward or embarrassing situations, “Time to move on”. How does our Falkirk Labour one man think tank expect the Scots to react when they realise they have been duped yet again by the London parties? It may take a little time for the penny to drop but realise it they will when Westminster accepts the NO vote as a vote for the status quo, does nothing positive for Scotland and tries to put the genie back into the bottle. I fear the consequences of a NO much, much more than those of a YES.

    • Grahamski. Maybe you underestimate the passion of the almost half of Scotland YES voters in the event of a narrow NO result. I, and most of the others I know, am now politically galvanised in a way never seen in generations. We will not go quietly. So, there will be a huge demand for debate, bickering if you will, and significant change will be absolutely demanded. I will be disappointed in a NO result, but a new Scottish politically aware population will work tirelessly for improvement in Scotland’s position. To me independence is inevitable, if not now, the next time, and there will be a next time!

      • Mr Glen

        Nothing would suit us better than for the SNP to continue obsessing about the constitution post NO vote.

        Knock yourselves out…

        • Grahamski. Make no mistake (pun intended!) voting no will mean we get nothing, nowt, zilch, because as you predict, we will be told to stop obsessing with the constitution. I can hear it now. “Let us be clear, we need a debate as to whether or not Scotland actually NEEDS further devolution”, Scotland’s voice has been heard etc- .
          And into the long grass will go all the promises- well actually they were not promises, just suggestions, which other unionist parties did not sign up to etc etc.
          How happy do you think the Scottish people will be with that scenario?

        • Mr Falkirk. I don’t know who ‘us’ is, but ‘we’ are not just the SNP. With the lack of understanding you seem to display, ‘you’ will be knocked out.

    • But haven’t all the Better Together parties been promising more devolution in the event of a No vote? It’s also possible that there may be a section of No voters who misguidedly voted No on that premise? Are you just suggesting abonding that section of voters?

    • Grahamski Falkirk

      Indeed, the Scottish people will then – if Labour wins the Westminister election – come to realise that your beloved Labour Party are no different to the Tories given Labour will plough right ahead with Tory cuts.

      You must be so proud of the Labour Party in all it’s modern right-wing glory to keep supporting it so.

    • Dear Mr Grahamski, you ain’t see nothing yet. Do you honestly think that the legion and I do mean legion of YES campaigners are going to let you sit back and laugh, good heavens man you ARE the fool I thought you always were/

  3. Grahamski,

    Even if we end up with a No vote, I don’t think anyone can credibly predict a Yes vote below 40%. That much discontent with the status quo can’t be sustained and something will have to give.

    Either significant steps toward federalism and financial independence (never going to happen) or another referendum in a decade.

  4. When they realise what is happening in they will have two options roll over or fight ttps://.

  5. IMO a NO vote is a poison chalice to the unionist parties and Westminster. What do they do then! Independence is inevitable we are not going away.

    As my old man used to say to me “be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it”

  6. And here’s hoping that John McTernan will do as much good for Better Together as he did for the Austrailian Labor Party last year.

    Going on his twitter comments of this morning where replying to Ian McWhirter he was defending Trident and saying that interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan were a good thing I don’t think he’s doing any harm to the Yes side.

    • Next time I’ll spell Australian right.

      I meant to say, Derek, that this was another great article, and brave in going somewhere where a lot of us dread to go – what if we lose?

      I think that is a possibility so disastrous that myself, and I suspect others, really don’t want to think,. However it is something we need to think about, even if to spur us on to do more to get the Yes vote out and help us to explain to undecided voters what the consequence of a No vote may be (while also obviously explaining the positives of a Yes vote).

  7. Derek,do you really think that JL will say anything meaningful about further devolution?
    She will hide behind commissions and claim that it is a matter for the UK government to decide.
    However,Westminster,advised by proud Scots rather than real ones,thought that the referendum would be a walk over and they could return to business as usual.
    Clearly that is not going to happen and in the event that No wins the day it will leave a significant number of Scots feeling disenfranchised and demanding answers from them.
    Will there be an answer however?

  8. Lamont couldn’t deliver a pizza. She will be ”elevated” into obscurity at our expense as happens to those from the peoples party who sell out Scotland.

    Oh does anyone know if auntie Bella has two jobs these days? I am sure I saw her at Holyrood, but then she was ”elevated” months ago?

  9. I think Derek is quite right to contemplate what could happen after a No vote. Not because we expect it to happen but it is useful to bring this alternative future to the attention of Don’t Knows. Some of them – and No voters – might think that everything will continue as before and vote for what they think is the status quo. Too late for them to discover that that is not what they get after the September vote.

    I don’t think that politicians either are really looking at the future after a No vote. It’s their usual short-sighted view that to just keep piling on the negativity will be enough to get them a No vote then they can sit back and sigh with relief, getting back to their lazy troughing and a system which is really just an elective dictatorship.

    This is the last chance to get back democratic control. To vote No is to meekly accept being insignificant in their scheme of things. They want us to be helpless.

  10. DevoMax! the question that David Cameron did not want included in the referendum as the possibility of acceptance would shackle a Tory Government or indeed any Westminster Government post general election to deliver to Scotland more powers.Does anyone actually believe that any Westminster Government will give Scotland more devolved powers?, I think not! If you want more power for the Scottish Government you must vote for Independence!

    • Frankly, for me Mac a No result would be a disaster for Scotland. It certainly wouldn’t be the status-quo, it would be cuts, cuts, and even more cuts, since we would just be a region of the U.K, and would be treated as such. And of course our wealth, renewables, oil and gas, would be continued to be plundered by Westminster. As far as I am concerned it would be a nightmare scenario, not just for me, but my great-grandchildren. That’s why, despite never being a member of any political party, and for the first time in my life, I’ll be out on the streets over the weekend campainging for a Yes vote.

  11. Johann Lamont will not be put under any spotlight. The MSM will not press the issue. It will be back to football stories and fawning articles on Ed Milliband in the Record, Herald and BBC.
    Any new Westminster government will quickly move to dissolve Holyrood.
    Westminster will paint the decision as a blank check to strengthen central control by Westminster.
    Those 2nd and 3rd string Labour careerists in Scotland will see opportunities dry up. Ironically, they will have cut off their own noses to smite their faces.
    Scotland’s natural resources will be taxed to the hilt and One Nation Toryism (whether administered by the Tory or Labour party it matters not, they are both representatives of the same political ethos) will be applied across Scotland as it will be in England. Those in our society who are now vulnerable will see themselves made victims.
    Very probably and we will have Scottish Labour unionism to thank for it.

  12. No = Nothing. Zilch. Get ignored. How many times do we have to go over this?

    As soon as vote is over, the eye sweeping over Scotland will turn to Middle England sharpish and to the GE, which Labour has no hope of winning. After a skelping by UKIP in the Euros, the only party going to deliver a Euro in/out referendum is the Tories. And that’s what Middle England wants. In any case, what’s the point in voting Labour to cut everything? May as well keep the Tories to do it properly.

    2016 SGE. SNP sweep to power again. But who cares what the jocks do now? They’re safely back in their basket.

    So once the UKGE is over, the focus will be on the EU referendum? Scotland? You’ve had too much time already, mate. Except of course the time we’ll take to slash the subsidies you get from us.

    The only imponderable to my mind is how Scotland will vote in the UKGE if there’s a No vote. I want to believe that there will be an SNP majority…

  13. Angry Weegie

    A no vote will indeed leave a huge minority of yes voters who have still the desire for change and they will be joined by many who voted no, who would then realise that they had voted for the Emperor’s clothes.

    The spotlight will fall on Scottish Labour, but that will only show how transparent they and their ideas really are. Any new powers delivered will be illusionary and will, in one way or another, simply reduce the capability of the Scottish Government to insulate the Scots from the blue or red Tory cuts.

    But what will Scots be able to do about it? What constitutional routes will be open to take this desire forward? Will Westminster take the risk of a tiny no majority turning into a tiny (or possibly not so tiny) yes in a few years time, or will they arrange things to make sure that this can never happen? Will there be a mark 2 Edinburgh agreement? I don’t think so.

    If no constitutional means of improving the government of Scotland is available, what will those who seek this improvement do? Will they simply put it back in the box and forget about it? Or will they try another way?

  14. @ Givinggoose

    I would like to think that there will not be much left of the so called Scottish media after Sept 19. Its clear to many, that we are now being subjected to a propaganda campaign with the BBC at its head, and more folk will become aware as time goes on.

  15. The grand illusion – keep devo-max off the referendum ballot paper, commit to nothing during the referendum process, offer an important meeting “within 30 days” , of a referendum vote, make cosmetic changes enabling it to become more possible to shift blame to the Scottish government for the massive Westminster cuts to come and the dismantling of the welfare state, trust that the voting serfs in Scotland are too stupid to notice what you’re up to, carry on at Westminster as before. Fortunately, the mask of illusion is slipping badly.

  16. Going a bit mental over at Wings and now Craig Murray regards BBC propaganda.

    Any thoughts Derek?

  17. In the event of a close No vote Scotland will be placed in an indefinite, Orwellesque media lockdown. No matter how bad the reality it will be portrayed as the best of all possible worlds. The SNP and Alex Salmond – for as long as he lasts – will be subjected to a relentless attack until they are destroyed. In other words just a continuation of the propaganda war currently being waged. In this, the BBC will continue to primarily serve their own internal interests which will handily coincide with those of the British establishment. In my dealings with the BBC in London and Glasgow it was apparent to me that the protection of the BBC itself is their primary business goal.

    The anti-Scottish stuff won’t help them if the Tories decide to gut them at some future point, though. What interests me is whether the anti-SNP propaganda techniques they have been deploying here might eventually be finessed to defend the Beeb from the Tories.

  18. In the event of a No vote, at the next Holyrood election, the SNP should put forward no regional list candidates. They could sweep the board in the constituency vote but Labour would probably end up in government with the Limp Dems. Then Alex can sit and watch Johann implementing the savage cuts which are bound to come, including abolition of free personal care, free prescriptions, bus passes, free school meals, etc.

  19. Event thought that may be a tempting tactic its the people of Scotland who will suffer more because of this. The SNP ma be able to slightly mitigate the cuts and perhaps make them a bit fairer – but can you imagine what an enormous mess and the massive extra suffering caused by letting SLAB anywhere near the reigns of power.

    Additionally if the SNP deliberately chose not to go for a majority they would partly get the blame for anything that did happen. Once in power, however, there could be other tactics follows – e.g. refuse to set budgets with massive cuts and force Westminster to intervene, etc.

  20. Derek, you’re flat wrong about Salmond not wanting the referendum. Everything has worked out as perfectly as it could possibly have worked, except for the overwhelming media bias (with the BBC being the worst because people assume the BBC is impartial) and we knew that would happen anyway.

    It’s not too soon. Devo-max will never, would never, could never happen. Westminster cannot and will not devolve significant fiscal control to Scotland. We have the maximum devolution Westminster is prepared to grant, right now. Even the Calman proposals don’t extend it significantly. Salmond knows this. At some point, like with hang-gliding, you just have to take that leap. That time is now. We may lose, but not because we didn’t wait long enough. We have the perfect storm right now.

    A devo-max proposal on the ballot paper would have won, right enough, but there was never any real possibility that the unionist parties would put forward a proposal to be voted on. If they had, it would have got very very messy, but I think Salmond was fairly confident they wouldn’t. And that we can win a straight Yes/No vote. That was the strategy, and saying he didn’t want this referendum is frankly dumb. You’ve been reading the Guardian too often.

    You’re not wrong about what will start to happen after a No vote, but you missed the most important part. Westminster’s number one priority above everything else, starting on 19th September, will be to make sure that we never get another chance to hold a referendum. Indeed discontent over lack of delivery may spiral and become a running sore, but they won’t care because we’ve turned down our chance and they can do what they like with two fingers up to us. There will never be another Edinburgh Agreement.

    The only thing that will be possible after than is for the SNP to turn an election, maybe the 2020 general election, into a de facto referendum, and indicate that an overall win in that with over 50% of the vote will be taken as a mandate to declare UDI. Have you any idea at all how messy that will become? It will make this year look like the Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

    It’s either that, or be assimilated and roll over in front of anything Westminster wants to throw at us, from the abolition of Holyrood and even Scots Law, to the end of the state pension, unemployment benefits and the privatisation of the NHS.

    Wake up and smell the coffee. We’re not playing games here.

    • Well said Morag. The main conclusion from Derek’s article and this discussion is what a disaster NO would bring, and how we need to emphasise that to help ensure a YES result.

    • “A devo-max proposal on the ballot paper would have won, right enough, but there was never any real possibility that the unionist parties would put forward a proposal to be voted on. If they had, it would have got very very messy, but I think Salmond was fairly confident they wouldn’t. And that we can win a straight Yes/No vote. That was the strategy, and saying he didn’t want this referendum is frankly dumb. You’ve been reading the Guardian too often.”

      Exactly. Salmond’s no thicko, he knows fine that if he proposes something, unionists will oppose it (the Bain Principle, if you will). If Salmond really wanted Devo Max on that ballot paper, he wouldn’t have talked it up as much as he did. All he had to do to ensure it didn’t appear on the ballot was say he wanted it, which also ensured Westminster would concede pretty much anything else as long as it remained a straight Yes/No question. To this day, I’m still pretty amazed Westminster is letting the Scottish Government write the question AND have that extended voter franchise.

      Although even if he hadn’t, I doubt they would have let us have our say on the amount of devolution we get. Devolution may be a process, but it’s a politician’s process. Us plebs must never be allowed to decide how much power we want, because even the Devo Maxers want far more power than Westminster would ever dream of conceding. The second we get to be involved in the devolution process, the truth will be revealed, and independence will be the next destination. So, we’ll never get a vote on it.

  21. Come a ‘No’ vote, the most obvious route to Independence would be an SNP majority in the 2015 UK General Election. The Unionists are always teasing the SNP saying that all they have to do is have a majority of seats in a UK GE. No more nice guys.

    • Too early, quite honestly. It’s not possible to reverse a No vote in six months. The SNP would be pilloried if they even suggested going for a mandate for UDI in 2015. I’m afraid we will have to wait until everything is completely FUBARed before that move would be credible, which means 2020 at the earliest.

      I’ll be 66. Just sayin. Some people already ran out of road. #DoItForMargo

  22. Morag,
    You are so right, and I could not agree with your observations more, the Scottish Westminster M.Ps would be the very first to demand that the ” powers” of the Scottish government be reduced, even abolished and reclaimed back to London, thereby assuring Labour,Conservatives, and the Lib/Dems, M.P.s in Scotland retain full power, with their “gravy-train” still available, and the added “bonus” of the possibility of a lifetime job/luxury of the House of Deadbeats.

  23. Johann Lamont and Labour will have an easy time. The compliant BBC and other media will give her a relatively hassle free existence.

    It’a already happening. Since the 2008 crash we’ve seen the sharp decline in hard edged political comedy and it’s replacement with ‘The Great British ….’ shows, a plethora of ‘War’ and ‘Empire’ documentaries and programmes such as ‘Countryfile’ and ‘Top Gear’ displaying as many Union flags at every opportunity. It’s happening everywhere, across all media platforms.

    Journalism has been reduced to very mild mannered soundbites and no proper investigations. Hell, you don’t even get an interviewer asking a question to a politician on air on main news programmes, it’s all pre-prepared soundbites.

    So no matter the complete bankrupt state of our nation, the media will always try to suppress the true magnitude of our economic fuck up, which they do and placate viewers with sentimental guff designed to placate the viewing public into a warm fuzzy nostalgic glow.

    Those rather risky shows that may ask awkward questions will find themselves being moved later at night in the schedules and their viewing numbers will drop accordingly. Even now the likes of Newsnight receives a tiny portion of viewers compared to say the News at 6 and their main purpose for the BBC is to allow them to claim that they do have cutting edge, hard political programming. It’s nothing but a box ticker.

    Why is all this relevant ?

    Because if No win, then there is little doubt that those voters have not engaged with the wider sources of opinion available to them, like using the internet. If they can be persuaded to vote No by watching the BBC, reading the Daily Record or Scotsman, they can be manipulated into believing that all is not too bad in the UK.

    With a compliant, dis-interested population and easy journalism, you don’t have to be a particularly astute politician to get away with a severe lack of talent.

  24. Out canvassing my response to “What if it’s a No vote?” – is for Yes campaigners it is simply half-time, we continue. But many who voted No, persuaded by the fear of uncertainty, will become not too happy over the following two years as increased austerity unfolds and pre-referendum devo promises fade.

    And my T-shirt artwork will read- “Don’t blame me, I voted Yes”.

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