By Alex Robertson
My return to Scotland brought two pieces of news: one terrific and one depressingly familiar.  The really exciting news is that of Labour pro-independence members finally breaking cover and led by Mr Allen Grogan, a Labour Party member, the ‘outing’ has attracted a lot of attention and opened a whole new chapter in the political story of the road to Scottish independence.

Some like me have long predicted and expected such a move.  It is inconceivable that the Labour Party that produced champions for Scotland like Willie Ross, to name but one of the most recent, could credibly support the Westminster and Tory leviathan that now roars around the political arena.

Profoundly anti-Scottish in philosophy, that creature sees Scotland as a region of England, a troublesome place where nationalists are disturbing the peace, but if ignored and starved of publicity, will perish away in time.
That was never a view that members of the Labour Party in Scotland could support, and it was only a matter of time until ranks were broken and voices raised in public.  I wish the movement well, since I believe that it is a sign of the Party moving back to its proper place in the spectrum of political opinion and philosophy.

Scottish Labour supporters never took to the Third Way politics of Blair and his spin doctors, it simply was not in their genes to abandon the left wing stance that had given birth to and nourished the infant party, and indeed brought it to power in Westminster in the first place.

But this is just the beginning.  Whilst I expect the pro-independence Labourites to flourish in Scotland as the rump of the party uneasily take on the harness of being in tandem with the Tories. History tells us that, outside wartime, political coalitions always lead to a period of loss and even virtual extinction for leftish parties tying themselves to the Tories. Liberals under Lloyd George are the best example.

The same fate awaits their latest manifestation in the Tory/LibDem coalition more than likely.  And the acid test question has always been: what will the pro-union Scottish parties do on the day after the referendum gives the green light to independence? What are they going to do?

This goes even wider.  Murdo Fraser in the last leadership election for the Scottish Tories spoke the truth when he identified the Tory brand as being toxic in Scotland.  That is not going to change overnight. 

What he may have been thinking about was a new right of centre grouping which would allow the right-ish people in Scotland who do favour independence to have a natural home.  Of course that would mean the new party having either a neutral stance towards independence or even a stance in favour.

The second acid test question has always been: what about the people of left of right of centre political views who are already in favour of an independent Scotland. They want their voice to be relevant in political debate and they want their views to be reflected in their mainstream parties’ manifestos. Or else what?

It is entirely possible that we are seeing a radical reshaping of our political landscape unfolding before our very eyes.  Just imagine if the new pro-independence Labour group, the Groganites, are repelled by the political leadership of the Labour Party in Scotland.  They will not be short of support for all that.

Think of people like Dennis Canavan, long time Labour loyalists who felt compelled to speak out.  And on the right of centre wing, if you doubt Tory members would flee the Toxic Tories, look at the SDA, which is making a fine fist of forming a new right of centre pro-independence movement, with ambitions for a lot more than just being the successful think-tank it is at present.

I for one welcome these moves.  I think they are positive and mark the refusal of people to blindly follow party lines anymore.  I welcome their support for independence and their commitment to fighting their political corner in an independent Scotland.  They tick all the acid test boxes and they represent the future.

And the Beeb?  I looked in vain for even a whisper of this story, which made it into the Scotsman and the Herald front pages.  But the BBC just ignored it.

It set me thinking and wondering why that should be so.  It might be that the BBC Newsroom is full of either dyed in the wool Labourites or dyed in the wool Tories or Libdems.  I doubt that is all the answer although there may well be political bias in their reporting.

I think personally the real answer lies in clue of their name.  They are unrepentantly British, and regard Scotland and its affairs as minor, and of a level of a small town flowershow.  That is a third rate service to their customers, Scots licence payers, a flagrant disgrace and utterly unacceptable.

Scotland deserves a Public Service Broadcaster which is committed to Scotland and Scots, reporting news from around the world to Scottish eyes and ears, its output geared to Scottish interests before all else except the truth.

Time for some to break ranks there as well perhaps?


# Leswil 2012-07-31 19:09
I think this article more or less hits the spot.
My thoughts on "Scottish" labour are they are now just a lapdog of the Uk Labour.
To be counted on when the wealthy ones want support, but do not really do anything to help Scotland.

This is not why labour was created and it has let down it's Scottish voters badly for many years. So now is the time for them to gain their own voice, and I applaud that.

In an Independent Scotland they can pursue what they were created for and let the public choose. A better Scotland will emerge after Independence that will show other nations the way it should be done.
rUK will panic as voters there also wake when seeing just what Scotland can do.
I wish them well.

Get the posters done proudly! " LABOUR FOR INDEPENDENCE" --- It's a YES!
# Robabody 2012-07-31 21:19
Great article Alex. I particularly liked the reference to the BBC and the last para "Scotland deserves a Public Service Broadcaster which is committed to Scotland and Scots, etc" Spot on!
If it still does not compute with the BBC post 2014 then to quote Alan Sugar - you're fired and that'll apply to the Labour dinosaurs too once the young Turks get to grip with the reality of having a new country and new politics to build.
# pmcrek 2012-07-31 21:43
You should vote Green after independence, we have punch and pie.
# Liam 2012-07-31 22:37
Steady on... we're talking about an ordinary Labour party member setting up a website to advance his views. Big deal! This doesn't warrant a national news story! Once he gets a significant political figure to join the cause — perhaps a currently serving Labour MP/MSP, or even just a former one — then I'm sure it'll be reported in the news. Or if there's evidence lots of Labour members are joining his cause, then again fair enough.
# border reiver 2012-07-31 23:08
At one time the labour party had a balance with left wingers like Claire Short and Tony Benn etc keeping the party in check but since Tony Blair and Nulabour took over they have gone so far to the right that they have just become red Tories and Scottish labour has slavishly followed the Westminster line.
I remember back in the seventies attending a demonstration when Arthur Scargill spoke about the dangers of nationalisation of our public service industries i.e. the railways, power generators and low and behold he said that we should nationalise the banks as privatisation would lead to multi national companies ripping us off. he was vilified as being a left wing loony, so judge for yourself if he was right or wrong?
# oldnat 2012-08-01 01:11
It's perfectly reasonable to have the opinion that Scargill was a self-centred loony who destroyed mining communities because he fought the wrong strike, in the wrong way, at the wrong time (Mick McGachey had a much better approach), while simultaneously accepting that Scargill shared the widespread view on the Left that privatisation was ripping us off?

Labour, of course, hasn't qualified for being part of "the Left" for many years.
# pmcrek 2012-08-01 01:56
Yep, there are only three sizeable left wing parties in Scotland and none of them are Labour.
# Macart 2012-08-01 02:49
Hope you had a good time on your travels Alex. Enjoyed the article and couldn't agree more on your BBC comments. Personally, I haven't bothered to watch the channel (other than for the debate programmes) for years. I couldn't even tell you who the current crop of newsreaders are. I gave up on their 'objectivity' years ago.

I also agree that its very encouraging to see the appearance of Liberal and Labour members forming distinctive breakaway voices for independence. I would be giving groups like this as much encouragement as possible. The root member of either the Labour or Liberal parties looking to put country before party and being motivated enough to promote the fact gives us all some hope that we are moving in the right direction. These people are motivated party members, not front rank politicians. As such I would say their contribution to the debate carries far more weight and is of more significance than say some weel kent name having a 'road to Damascus' moment.
# zorbathejock 2012-08-01 04:37
At the moment BBC Radio Scotland isn't reporting anything if you live abroad and rely on the internet.For the duration of the Olympic games it is offline along with all the other "regional" stations for contractual reasons !!.Quite what "Take the Floor" or "Off the ball" have to do with the Olympics I don't know
# call me dave 2012-08-01 09:26
A lot of them are at the Olympics filling in and giving us 2nd hand or 3rd hand news of how well or poorly we did.

PS: Why are horses in the olympics?
Do they get a medal?

Enjoying the sport pity about the hype!
# hiorta 2012-08-01 08:42
BBC Radio Scotland encapsulates perfectly the ultra-minor role that Unionists would like to see as little Scotland's natural relationship with the 'gigantic' UK/ England.
# Seagetagrip 2012-08-01 10:03
I seriously accuse the BBC of being politically corrupt. They are a tool of which ever party is in control of the UK. They shelter behind a skewed FOI Act and are protected by court action when attempts are made to have the truth published. The BBC Trust is similary controlled by the establishment which has been joined by New Labour.
# Glenbuchat 2012-08-01 10:11
To mention the late Willie Ross in the context of this article would be bordering on the blasphemous were it not entirely risible.

Wiliie Ross was indeed a great champion for Scotland but he was also a politician who held petty nationalism in almost complete disdain. He would have been the first to point out that opposition to the Tories was a common cause for the Labour and trade union movement throughout the UK and not an excuse for nationalist obscurantism.

The BBC quite rightly ignored this non-story because it is no more than a "silly season" puff which may fill the odd column in a newspaper but merits no serious consideration whatsoever.

The continuing decline in popular support for independence, as witnessed by all the latest polls, is of far greater significance than the ramblings of one supposed Labour Party member with access to a computer.
# Training Day 2012-08-01 11:41
Ah, the old Labour canard that if you can't effectively oppose the Tories UK wide there's no point in attempting to do so in Scotland alone.

Tell me, when you lift your head from 'Marxism for Dummies', how do you view the petty nationalism of the UK as manifested in the current slaverings over Team GB? Obscurantist?

Your posts over the last while show you are getting seriously worried about 2014. Good.
# Glenbuchat 2012-08-01 12:35
Worried? What on earth do I have to be worried about in terms of 2014 when all the current evidence suggests a convincing victory for the No side of the argument.

I am concerned at the amount of time and energy being expended on the debate when there are real issues to be dealt with. I look forward to the day when we can all get back to real politics.
# Training Day 2012-08-01 12:45
'Evidence' is such a fluid term, but I'll assume you mean the current evidence that around 60-70% of Scots desire meaningful constitutional change? How do you think they'll vote when presented with a Yes or 'no change' option?

You think that self-determination and the right to make all decisions about Scotland in Scotland are not 'real' politics. Maybe, with a bit of coaching, I can aspire one day to join in the debates down your local Labour club on 'real' politics..
# Adrian B 2012-08-01 13:22
Training Day,

I suspect that Glenbuchat holds more of his beliefs in the blue Tory mindset, rather than the in the Labour frame of mind. Regardless he isn't going to see any Yougov poll as being off the mark as their record shows little change over quite a long period of time.

Polls are only an interpretation, a moments snapshot, the views are presented by the polling company to their client. However without deep analysis of soft yes/no intentions, or indeed studying the options of the questions. The only understanding that can be drawn from them is this polling company's results are as presented without any underlying analysis.

In this matter Yougov polls show very different results to other large polling companies. Yougov results have been consistent for the last three years. As a result they should perhaps not be ignored, but should be taken in context with other companies polls.

As always the only poll that counts is the one at the ballot box come the referendum. There will be many more polls between now and then. Analysis is most important in understanding what all polls say. The press quoting verbatim without analysis is extremely lazy and bad practice journalism what ever you may think the outcome should be either on a personal or professional basis.

There are polls out there that show many things. My point is that it is not as clear cut as many would have us believe - the Devo question being one of particular warrant of concern for many even at this stage.
# Blanco 2012-08-01 13:55
Willie Ross waved the rise of the SNP in the face of his governments in order to get concessions from them. Without the threat of independence, Willie Ross would have got nothing from the Westminster. He was also an old fashioned command and controller, dead against devolution, reporting to have said "Who needs devolution, when you have got me?"

A flick of the English voter's pencil, and we no longer had Willie Ross.

So for all the things he brought Scotland, he was entirely dependent upon the rise of the SNP, and the English voting Labour, to achieve anything.
# Glenbuchat 2012-08-01 15:44
I suspect that we would never entirely agree on either the record or the legacy of Willie Ross. What I hope we can agree upon is that the politician credited with coining the epithet "Tartan Tories" has no place within the context of the above article.

"What ifs" are always dodgy, but I strongly suspect that if Willie Ross were alive today he might be even more pithy in his condemnation of those who choose to view every subject through the distorting prism of nationalism.
# Blanco 2012-08-01 16:37
He would not be spoiled for choice then, British nationalists on one side and Scottish nationalists on the other.

If, however, he were viewing every subject through the distorting prism of socialism, he would find no home in any of the main UK parties. He may well have made a political journey similar to Jimmy Reid, and other principled former Labourites like Dennis Canavan.
# GrassyKnollington 2012-08-01 16:41
I'm pondering if there is a beastie in all Christendom less self aware than a full on British nationalist railing against Scottish nationalists.
# Jim Johnston 2012-08-03 05:30
Yes Glenbuchat, Alexs' mention of Willie Ross caught my eye as well. Unfortunately I'm old enough to remember Willie in his hay day. That was the time when he coined his diplomatic speak diamond that the SNP were the Scottish Nazi Party. Strange language for a champion of all things Scottish, and a democrat of any persuasion.
In my memory Willie was just another failed teachers, trumpt up town councillors, shop stewards etc., who saw the trough and made a beeline for it.
# proudscot 2012-08-01 10:57
Glenbuchat, as you should know, opinion polls are often inaccurate, all depending as they do on the random selection of those canvassed and in which locations of the country. Also there are always other contributing factors such as the current wall to wall Union-fest propaganda, HM's Jubilee, London Olympics, etc.

So your comments, as always, are not only as inaccurate as the polls you cite, but as usual also reflect your pro-union and anti-independence viewpoint. It is your right to favour the unequal union Scotland is currently tied to, and I respect that, but you too should respect those who hold views which do not agree with your own.
# Glenbuchat 2012-08-01 17:41
You are really clutching at straws. Polling is not entirely random, rather there is a random choice of individuals within a scientifically stratified sample.

There can, obviously, be rogue polls but you would be hard pressed to deny the consistency of recent polls, by various organisations, all showing a downward trend. Between now and 2014 these trends may fluctuate, however, several weeks after the launch of the Yes campign the cause of independence has, on all reliable evidence, gone backwards.
# Training Day 2012-08-01 18:09
You are the one clutching at straws. You completely ignore the key issue of those who want constitutional change of some form short of independence being factored out of these polls. I repeat again, how do you think these people will vote when presented with 'no' meaning 'no change'?

But since you ignore all the other points put to you and focus instead on regurgitating your textbook, we should not be too surprised at the anguished monotony of your posts.

Oh, and for info - the Daily Mail was today forced to publish a correction to its assertion yesterday that support for independence had fallen, instead admitting it had risen since the last poll.
# cynicalHighlander 2012-08-01 18:11
YouGov poll: momentum remains with the SNP and Yes:


When the three constitutional options are asked alongside each other, independence is the most popular:

Independence: 30%, More devolution: 29%, Status Quo: 28%

Asked about supporting independence on the question: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country”, the figures were:

Yes: 36%, No: 45%, Don’t Know: 20%
# Macart 2012-08-02 06:05
Good point CH. Whatever happens in 2014, self determination is assured. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle. With over 70% in favour of constitutional change the status quo is going to lose and lose big. Even if full secession is not the result of 2014, the Scots electorate will not suffer going backwards.

Narrow win for NO: will most probably result in demands for FFA minimum from the electorate. If this is not forthcoming the Scots voter will make their presence felt in the following GE, probably with a major SNP landslide presence in Westminster.

Narrow win for YES: Job done anyway

The status quo unionists are deluding themselves if they believe that Scotland is not well on its way already. But hey, that's a good thing. The longer they live in the land of unicorns and blind arrogance, the better.
# UpSpake 2012-08-01 12:11
In the digital age of the Internet and smart phones there is absolutely nothing for a Public Service broadcaster to do.
Scotland should not repeat the mistakes of the past and allow the government of the day to 'maniplate' the news output and bias through its compliant 'public service broadcaster.
Lets move on and recognise the future free form the perfidious aspects of the past.
# CharlieObrien 2012-08-02 00:57
If a pollster asks 2,000 people and then only uses 1500 of them he can manipulate the result.Or so I was told many years ago,it was done to keep in with those who commissioned the poll and paid for it,as people will follow who they think are winners,and a poll can help push people to voting with who the perceive as the winners and thus make them the winners.
# cokynutjoe 2012-08-02 08:39
Willie Ross? all things considered, more of a chump than a champ!
# Kinghob 2012-08-02 09:00
I know that a british nationalist is a rare thing to see beyond the odd token one dreaming away on a news site commentary section but it is fun watching them hallucinate that a 'no' vote' is somehow already in the bag-a totally unrealistic view when you consider just how desperate westminster politicians are to cook the books of this 2014 referendum.

To say that the Referendum on Independence for Scotland is not only in the bag for the unionist efforts but also that 'afterwards' we can all return to 'real politics' is a laughable and quite arrogant joke of a way to put the future constitutional changes that will take place within these Isles.

"Afterwards' we could easily (very easily) be working on a future that has a full Scottish Government voted for and sitting in Scotland! That is why we are having this referenda, not as a wee interim thing until the likes of David Cameron or Ed Miliband can wow us all into embracing the 'real' politics of defunct out of date westminster.

The westminster hold on Scotland has never been so weak and anything other than a resounding victory for the nay sayers will end the union and I would bet it will be very very close indeed!

Too close for the unionist politicians who would have done anything to sink this referendum they used to boast was so easy to win.

Vote YES people and take control of all our resources and decision's over for westminster, a dead in the water idea from the start that is way by its sell by date!
# redcliffe 2012-08-03 03:37
If Team GB win Olympic medals at football then it will be like 1966 and it will never be off the screens.

People in Scotland may not care about politics but their football, well, that is another matter. and cheering on England and singing God save the queen will not do much for the Unionist cause. Quite the reverse.

When they suggest it must be repeated and in fact why not do it for all events if team is higher standard?
Clearly a UK anthem should not be played as a quasi-English anthem.

Takes me back to Murrayfield in the 70's when the mikes were moved over to the stands who were singing and not booing when it was apparently Scotland's anthem as well.

Whilst the English still consider it to be OK even if the same thing there is no issue, but this is boiling under the surface.
The equating of 1966 and now 2012 will grate and annoy many, so I hope Team GB wins and it brings this issue to a head.

Time for the SFA to do something decent for a change.

You must be logged-in in order to post a comment.


Donate to Newsnet Scotland


Latest Comments