Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Better together

The Olympic Games gave an interesting backdrop to the start of the Better Together ground campaign, with Saturday marking the first campaigning weekend. From Alex Salmond’s ‘Scolympians’ to Mo Farah – the temptation for politicos to muse on the Olympic impact on the referendum debate proved too great.

As the #bettertogether hashtag zipped across Twitter it was met with cynical derision by our nationalist friends and exuberant enthusiasm by supporters – par for the course in Scottish politics.

Across Scotland there were over 60 events attended by non-aligned supporters and activists from Labour, Lib Dem and Tories. This seemingly delighted SNP activists as it gave them something to rage about on Twitter – Labour being led by Tories, Labour = Tories et cetera. I am not sure what they would say about the Communist party activist supporting us in Govan though.

When the public worked out what we were up to they were generally supportive and against independence – even many who voted SNP previously, which explains why Alex Salmond is keeping his options open on a third option of ‘devo-max’ on the ballot paper – he suspects they will lose a straight choice and needs a get-out.

As opinion polls keep saying, most people want some change to the status quo and many would like to refresh the devolution settlement with further powers for the Scottish parliament – but they also reveal that most Scots want a clear single Yes-No question.

We live in a representative democracy and no party at the 2011 Scottish parliament stood on a platform of ‘devo-max’ and, quite frankly, there are no two people who would actually agree on exactly what it is, so I am not sure how you could have it on a ballot paper, and, besides, the Scotland Act has shown that we don’t need questions to have powers transferred.

The referendum is offering profound and unalterable change to Scotland but Labour must also keep an eye on what happens afterwards. The SNP will be closely watching the polls and if they stay consistently against a ‘Yes vote’ they will be aiming to manage defeat in such a manner as to emerge as a party whom people may not concur with their absolute aim, but who may perceive them as standing up for Scotland within the UK – and this is dangerous for Scottish Labour.

Even throughout the Better Together campaign Scottish Labour must continue exposing the SNP government for the choices they are making and building up the case against them.

The SNP are wily and we can see the way in which their leadership is desperate to jettison their principled Nato stance that they are merely political opportunists – if they change on this there is no longer any sacred cow left for them except their commitment to independence itself.

Scottish Labour must use the energy generated by the referendum campaign to propel them into the next UK general election and Scottish parliament election through keeping focus on motivating their activists, building campaign capacity and developing a vision for Scotland that is fair, prosperous and confident.

There are many more days on the door for Scottish Labour activists in the coming years …


James Adams is a Labour councillor for Govan ward, Glasgow city council

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James Adams


  • It would appear from the above, that all Labour activists are happily enrolled in this Tory-led flag-fest of rabid Unionism. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    There is a growing wave of discontent much further down the party food chain which is being channelled into support for the Yes campaign by virtue of there being no internal discussion and no debate about the line we’re taking on Independence. It seems to have been a knee-jerk policy-on-the-hoof (again…), following the usual ‘If the Nationalists want it, we don’t analogy. If the SNP managed to negotiate world peace and a cure for cancer, Scottish Labour would automatically place itself in a diametrically opposite position, and line up a host of MSP’s on the telly to denounce the new outbreak of free and healthy world citizens. It makes me boak! Its good old fashioned Blairite Groupthink all over again…
    There is light at the end of the tunnel…
    There is a home for you in the Labour movement if you are a supporter of a free, Independent Scotland and the Edinburgh March and Rally on September 22nd is a rallying call for you to show your colours, you can find a home at

  • From what I can tell, the Better Together events were poorly attended and treated with nothing but mild indifference by the public…

    Also, the pejorative use of the term ‘nationalist’ to describe one side of the debate is more than a little crass. Let’s not forget that those who support the Union are also nationalists.

  • Not before time James, where was the No campaign since the launch, I was starting to wonder if you will ever go out and explain your position to folks. Now that you have and you are telling the people of Scotland that the status quo is the best option you have to offer, the like of Henry McLeish and the many who believe in a progressive Scotland can come and join us in the Yes campaign.

  • Maybe its just me, but isn’t it somewhat bizarre that we’re on a ‘Progress’ forum and the party line on the issue in hand is anything but Progressive.

    Just thought I’d add that in for comments sake…

  • Ok at long last a home for Radical and progressive politics within the Labour movement, so where is it? it certainly is not in the above article.

  • “As opinion polls keep saying, most people want some change to the status quo…”

    Then they should shun Bitter Together as the status quo is all this ultra-conservative coalition stands for.

  • I suspect when New Labour types say “progress” what they mean is yet more privatisation, transferring even more wealth to the rich, and generally becoming more Tory than Thatcher. Hence the last thing they want to see is Scotland free and independent, so able to do things differently.

  • There is nothing progressive about this article – it strikes me as being deeply reactionary – howver, coming from a Labour unioniost, that is not surprising

  • 60 events? hardly, some were postponed or cancelled all together, in some towns they even closed early due to a total lack of support worrying times for the better together campaign with a severe lack of grassroot support to any campaigning

  • Em … why? What’s the point in campaigning against independence? How is having a Tory government at Westminster good for Labour supporters in Scotland? Surely an independent Scotland makes it easier to achieve Labour and progressive policies in Scotland? After all, last time we had a Labour government at Westminster we didn’t even get Labour policies because we were too busy chasing Tory votes in England. Sorry, it’s been fun, but I don’t want to be in the UK any more, because I don’t want a Tory government ever running Scotland again. Vote Yes to independence, or vote for continued Tory rule. That’s the choice for Scottish socialists (apologies for using the s-word).

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