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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