Labouring after a Yes

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By Derek Bateman

There’s a fair bit of obsession with what happens after a No vote. I’ve written about it myself and believe that it will pile unbelievable pressure on Labour as the lead No party to deliver something meaningful against the immediate post-election wishes of the English people.

And just imagine what will happen if Labour doesn’t win the election, which some commentators think is already a given.

By Derek Bateman

There’s a fair bit of obsession with what happens after a No vote. I’ve written about it myself and believe that it will pile unbelievable pressure on Labour as the lead No party to deliver something meaningful against the immediate post-election wishes of the English people.

And just imagine what will happen if Labour doesn’t win the election, which some commentators think is already a given. They will have – how long – ten years of derision to face in Scotland as another Tory-led government cuts spending and sends ever more families into poverty. They will be bystanders again as the hammer falls and rest of the Scotland will demand to know why they allowed themselves to be conned into voting No.

I see the Great Labour thinker Douglas Alexander is sounding off again about how important it is for us all to join hands in favour of devolution after a No. I think that is likely to happen anyway because we will be in impasse again and seeking a way out. The people will have spoken and the SNP and Yes will have to accept their verdict while maintaining their position of favouring independence.

I also don’t buy this whiny weasel narrative about us not getting on together. Why wouldn’t we? If your politics really is so hateful that you can’t shake the hand of an opponent afterwards, you shouldn’t be in the game at all. But then I think it’s a mask to wear while they denigrate the Yes campaign as nasty, bigoted, narrow and – thanks to Willie Rennie – dogs. Nobody mentions the foul pro-Union bile on the Scotsman website, or the anti Scottish tirades in the Telegraph, Mail and Express.

And don’t believe the claims of the Vote No Borders crowd. They were monstored by Scots insulted at their lies that they were grass-roots when they’re anything but and disgusted that the national broadcaster embarrassed itself again by lapping up unsubstantiated PR spin in a desperate attempt to big up opposition to independence.

VNB were found out for what they are – charlatans. And they didn’t like it. This wasn’t cybernatery. This was people power exposing the rich and mendacious who are trying to manipulate our referendum result. (When did you last hear of a millionaire financier too timid to cope with online critics?)

But surely the question Douglas Alexander should be asking – and answering – is What happens if there’s a Yes? What DO Labour do then? They have boxed themselves into such a corner by belittling their own country’s self-government, that I’m not sure all Scots will have a warm embrace for them…a cheery two-fingered wave perhaps but since not a word has been expended on countenancing the possibility of life after a Yes by Labour, it’s hard to see what they might bring to the table. Aren’t we entitled to ask?

It’s one thing to say you don’t want to consider life after a Yes – although they have spent the entire campaign insisting that the pro-Yes side do just that – but quite another to conceal your objective. This after all, will be a new country, the rebirth of a nation. The history is undeniable, as will be Labour’s part in it. How do you credibly state that you don’t know if you’ll participate? Will they ask to be part of the negotiating team?

Could they be trusted? Normally, that wouldn’t be an issue but after Labour’s vitriol and personal smearing, allied to their clearly expressed allegiance to the British state, it becomes a fair question. Indeed, when you think about it, a declaration of some kind expressing commitment to the Scottish people in the light of a referendum Yes seems entirely in keeping.

The talks will be in deadly earnest – no room for doubters or passengers. I imagine that ‘the Scottish leader’ – if it is still Johann (try Ladbrokes for odds) – will need to make a statement clarifying her position, indicating that she either stands by her analysis of independence as bad for Scotland, in which case she removes herself from the scene, or she puts it down to the campaign – sidestepping her ‘virus’ comments – and declares herself committed to the new Scotland and at her country’s service. That leaves it up to Salmond what role, if any, she has.

It is plain wrong in my view not to open up your voters to what your position might be after. There is too much of the North Korea about a line that proclaims everything that way is evil, we must not countenance it. Apart from anything, it makes you look like a dumbbell when people vote against you and ask the obvious question.

But you see, they’ve said the shipyards will close. How can they be part of a negotiating team insisting they stay open when the London talks leader can simply reply: But YOU agreed with us about that….

How can they be part of the negotiating team when they think our relatives will become foreigners. Scotland may well ask for an Irish clause saying Scots will not be foreigners and London can reply that was what Labour wanted.

When a team with Labour on board argues to be rid of Trident, London will say Trident retention was Labour’s idea.

When Scotland asks for the maritime border to be redrawn further south, they will say ‘but it was Labour who put it there.’

And what WILL Labour members of the Scottish team say when the Treasury tells them they don’t want to share the pound?

And here’s a thought. If it’s true Scotland becomes a foreign country, Labour can’t hold on to the London party’s coat-tails and take their money. They really will have to think again. Maybe they could take advice from the truly independent Scottish party, you know, the one that spreads a virus. No, I think it’s time Douglas Alexander, as officially the only Scottish Labour representative who thinks, should cast his mind to life after a Yes.

Courtesy of Derek Bateman