Which campaign did Gordon Brown really save?


  By G.A.Ponsonby
So Gordon has done it again.  The man who saved the world after the banking crisis has now donned his cape in order to save the Union.
Well, that’s the narrative the media and Labour would have us believe.

  By G.A.Ponsonby
So Gordon has done it again.  The man who saved the world after the banking crisis has now donned his cape in order to save the Union.
Well, that’s the narrative the media and Labour would have us believe.

The truth is that Brown no more saved the Union than David Cameron or Ed Miliband intend to honour Brown’s panic pledge of Home Rule for Scotland.

What saved the Union of course was the might of the broadcasting machine called the BBC.  And no, I don’t blame Nick Robinson’s cack handed news report when he let his own vanity get in the way of reporting the truth.

The BBC essentially stepped in when the Better Together campaign had all but disintegrated.  When the fateful poll showing Yes had pulled ahead was published by the Sunday Times, all pretence of balance was ditched.

From that moment the BBC’s task was to allow the No campaign to set the narrative.  At one point with days to go until referendum day, BBC Scotland chose a No campaign claim as their top story for five consecutive days.

Some of the stories were shocking.  The role of the broadcaster in colluding with the Treasury in the RBS ‘brass plate’ scare story was disgraceful.  Even worse was Eleanor Bradford’s shocking propagandising of a routine NHS report to suggest the Scottish Government were secretly planning cuts.

The BBC could have handled the job itself, but Brown’s nerve deserted him and he careered into the referendum like a bull in a china shop.  Downing Street and his own party leadership had no idea what he was doing.  He was winging it.

The BBC in Scotland, unwilling to challenge the man they view as Scotland’s de-facto First Minister of course gave him his platform.  Brown’s emergency speech was broadcast live – Churchill style – to a waiting nation.  The war against the uppity Scots had to be won.

The move was designed to give the impression of even more powers on offer in the event of a No vote and to persuade just enough undecided voters that the mythical beast of Devo Max was now on the agenda and would be delivered rapidly.

It was rushed and ill thought through and has now left Labour and the Conservatives with a constitutional headache.

Brown of course rushed in before the leaders of the Westminster parties had even formulated their plan to stem rising support for Yes.  He effectively bounced them into signing a vow they knew couldn’t be honoured.

His timetable was always unworkable and both Cameron and Miliband have already effectively ditched the Brown promise of Home Rule.

So where are we?

Well Labour and the Tories are currently trying to blame one another for the collapse of Brown’s timetable and their failure to honour ‘the vow’.  And this is precisely why Gordon Brown’s fateful intervention has backfired.

Most ordinary voters are of the belief that they are going to get a mythical beast known as Devo Max.  They think that because the Scottish media told them this was what was on offer.

In an interview on Reporting Scotland on September 9th, Better Together leader Alistair Darling pledged Devo Max would be legislated for, two months after the referendum.

Indeed in another BBC broadcast Brown himself said that the new powers would be as close to federalism as possible – he went on to say it was the equivalent of Home Rule.

This is the pledge the three unionist parties should be held to, and it may be their undoing because they cannot deliver anything close to Devo Max or Home Rule.

Yes Alliance

Many Yes supporters are calling for a pan-Yes approach to the 2015 UK general election with agreements between the SNP, SSP and Scottish Greens to form an alliance in order to unseat Scottish Unionist politicians.

Tommy Sheridan has selflessly urged Green, SSP and Solidarity voters to vote SNP in 2015, if the SNP stand on an indyref ticket.

These ideas have merit but fail to appreciate that most Scots did not vote Yes in the referendum.  Using the 2015 UK General Election to essentially fight the referendum again would be a strategic error.

There is one way to ensure people move from pro-Union parties in 2015 – and that is to highlight their broken promise over more powers.

By May 2015 Scotland will no more have significant more powers than Gordon Brown will be the leader of Scottish Labour.  The Scottish electorate will still be looking at poorly defined pledges based on a lowest common denominator of the packages each of the three Unionist parties unveiled in the months before the referendum.

Everyone knows that had Devo Max been on the ballot paper, then Scots would have overwhelmingly voted for it.  This is the door that Gordon Brown left open and the one that Miliband and Cameron are desperate to close.

But how can it be used to advance pro-Yes MPs into Westminster? 

By using the proven single party issue so effectively used by UKIP in England.

A three pronged approach must be put in place as soon as possible.

First, all pro-independence commentators and politicians need to highlight Gordon Brown’s Home Rule pledge and link it to the Devo Max narrative the media cultivated.  Darling’s Devo Max interview on September 9th must also be hammered home.

Second, we need a sustained effort to promote the widely accepted defininition of Devo Max, so that the Scottish electorate know instinctively what it is – the devolution of all powers save defence and foreign affairs.  Fortunately this has already conveniently been done when the BBC commissioned a poll in 2011.

Note how in the clip above Better Together leader Alistair Darling warned of the consequences of granting more powers and also how Labour MP Tom Harris said Devo Max is the same as federalism, which is of course what Gordon Brown has pledged will be offered to Scots.

Which brings me to the third strand of the strategy of unseating British Unionist MPs – the creation of a single issue party.

Scottish Devo Max

Based on the UKIP model, Scottish Devo Max, or the Devo Max Party, could appear on the ballot paper alongside the SNP and Labour.

Many Yes voting Labour supporters will not back the SNP – it’s a tribal thing.  They may be persuaded to support the SSP, but the Scottish Socialists will have no profile in a UK general election.

Disgruntled Labour supporters, even those who voted No, may be attracted to a party pledging the ‘magic’ Devo Max.  It will allow them to protest against Labour’s failure to keep to their promise to devolve ‘significant’ new powers, to give Devo Max, to create Home Rule.

The SNP vote will remain secure, even increasing as some former Labour Yes voters switch allegiances.  If a pro-indy alliance can indeed be reached, then maybe the SNP could stand down in some seats and allow the SSP or Greens to stand unopposed.

But what about independence I hear you say?

That battle is for another day.  The aim in 2015 is not to re-fight a battle most are already jaded by – the ordinary electorate are not Yes campaigners and will need time before they are ready for the Great Debate II, which will come.

The British Labour party revealed its true purpose when it joined the Tories and Big Business in a two year campaign against Scottish independence.

The goal now is to expose these British Nationalists and hold them to account through the ballot box for breaking pledges made during the independence referendum campaign.

What of the BBC?  Well it effectively saved a No campaign which was in tatters and falling back in the polls, an inquiry in front of Holyrood MSPs is surely now unavoidable.

Regardless though, the corporation, as I predicted some months ago, will come under increasing pressure in Scotland as more and more people withhold their licence fee.  It is loathed by pro-independence supporters and only by becoming fully devolved will it save itself.

[Newsnet Scotland has started a petition to have broadcasting devolved and brought under the control of the Scottish people.  The petition can be found by clicking HERE.

We would encourage everyone to sign this petition and make others aware of its existence.  This is important now that Lord Kelvin has announced he will be taking input from Scottish organisations on further devolution. 

Lord Kelvin has said he will present his recommendations on 30th November.]