I’ve a couple of instances which show some of the weaknesses in the way the debate over Scottish independence is configured for each side/ This one shows the psychology of adopting a Yes position rather than a No to the the referendum question.
As a former Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (which the SNP has promised Scotland will join after independence) George Robertson is well placed to argue why Scotland could be a stronger actor within the UK. Instead, however…
Eeek! Now, he might be right. And hell will most likely freeze over before Scotland does anything other than follow orders from its larger power broking members: including rUK.
But calling Scotland some ‘minor entity of the north’ is one of several nasty elephant traps laying about in this campaign, and poor old George walked straight into it.
In a sense this is a structural kink within the Union wide parties, who’s top talent has tended to move on from home base and seen their ambitions fulfilled in London and beyond. Ironically it affects Labour far more than the Tories who are these days the English and slightly Welsh party.
Developing an authentic Scottish Labour organisation that sees (as the SNP does) Scotland as the pinnacle of its own domestic political ambition is a challenge that has yet to be realised.
Beyond Alistair Darling, Jim Murphy is probably the best political talent they have but it’s far from clear that he’s having serious political impact on the debate. Both are Westminster rather Holyrood politicians.
The Robertson ‘slip’ underlines the otherness of what had been until relatively recently the largest political voice of Scotland. It portrays Labour scrabbling for its own authentic Scottish grounding.