Archive: August, 2014
Last weekend highlighted one of the major problems facing the No! campaign in the independence referendum. It was the weekend of the SNP’s annual spring conference, and it provided separatists with a platform that unionists simply cannot match. The Scottish National Party exists for the sole purpose of promoting independence. It is organised to deliver that outcome, passionate about it and resourced for it. Its leaders live for it, its foot-soldiers march for it, its Press Office is geared to it.
Inevitably, then, its annual conference is choreographed to ensure that in the full glare of the media all the forces and faces of Nationalism are marshalled to argue that we’ll never be properly grown-up till we stand alone on our own two feet, send the Americans packing, deliver Scotland from the curse of Toryism, and provide free child-care for all working mothers (Santa to pick up the tab).
The tragedy is that the No! campaign has nothing comparable. There is no Scottish party to whom the Union matters as much as independence matters to the SNP. Nor is there any other party as well organised at grass-roots, or able to deploy such a fanatical political infantry. Neither Labour, Tory nor LibDem stand first and foremost for the Union. Nor do they seem able to put their differences aside and stand together to save it. Even in the Western Isles, the parties are reluctant to be seen working together; and where they do work together there is nothing like that critical mass of explosive enthusiasm which the crisis demands.