Today’s Sunday Times has a story which perhaps explains the roots of the current Labour party crisis:
MORE Scots now favour living in an independent nation than remaining
part of the United Kingdom, according to a poll that appears to show
devolution has fuelled the push for separatism north of the border.
The YouGov poll, commissioned by The Sunday Times, finds that 44%
of Scots want independence, compared with 42% who favour continued rule
from Westminster. (Sunday Times)
If the poll is correct, the next Scottish Parliament may well be prepared to give them a referendum on the issue:
If repeated at a Holyrood election, the result would give the
nationalists 38 out of 129 seats, enough to form a coalition with the
Liberal Democrats, Labour’s current governing partners, and the Greens.
Labour would remain the biggest party with 42 seats, down from 50.
The Lib Dems have already suggested they would go with the SNP in these circumstances even if it meant an independence referendum. Some of their own policies aren’t that far from independence themselves. Labour MSPs are naturally worried.
Some Labour MSPs want the prime minister to resign quickly because they
believe his unpopularity is putting the future of the Union at risk. “A
lot of us are worried, especially with what’s been going on in London,
that the whole thing is going to blow apart if we become disunited and
forget the bigger picture,” said one.
No wonder Brown ally Doug Henderson spent last week calling for Blair to go before the Scottish elections.
The Chancellor himself has joined battle to ensure he will have a country to take over after next May:
Nationalism wants a Scotland separate from the UK, and wants to force
Scotland to choose between Scotland and Britain, just as today’s
Conservatism wants English votes for English laws and wants England to
choose between England and Britain.
For all my political life I have stood up for Britain. I stand here today, again, to speak up for Britain and our Britishness. And for the values that make us proud of our Britishness. (Labour)
Incidentally, I have to admit I was quite pleased with this part of Alex Salmond’s riposte:
"If he suggested Ireland would be doing so well if
London took its decisions, he would be laughed out the room. Ireland
has as many strong social bonds with the UK as Scotland but that does
not mean Dublin lets London choose its future.
"The Chancellor is stuck in Labour’s tired old rhetoric of divorce,
but no one in Scotland thinks Scotland and England are married. We are
partners in a 300 year old union that is no longer serving our nation’s
interest. We are neighbours and friends and that positive relationship
will only be enhanced when we move forward to an equal partnership that
gives Scotland the freedom to flourish without London remote control." (SNP)
I’m (just) old enough to remember when it was the opponents of Scottish independence who cited Ireland in support of their case.