May 6, 2008


Bluff or blunder? Scottish Labour's call for a vote on independence is the biggest miscalculation in recent British politics (Ewan Crawford, 5/07/08, The Guardian)

The Scottish Labour leader, Wendy Alexander, in a genuinely jaw-dropping moment, has signalled support for a referendum on Scottish independence. And she wants it now. The calculation is that the SNP would lose a popular vote on the constitution, putting to bed any debate over independence for a generation and skewering Alex Salmond into the bargain. It's also precisely the opposite of what Alexander has been arguing ever since she assumed the leadership.

And what makes this announcement truly surprising is not just the scale of the U-turn but that it was clearly done without the say-so, and to the apparent irritation, of the prime minister. Nothing is supposed to happen in Scottish Labour politics without the agreement of Gordon Brown. The fact that Alexander, often derided as the Tony Blair figure to the prime minister's George Bush, has decided to ignore Brown, says more about his dwindling authority than any Westminster backbench rebellion.

But regardless of what it says about the state of the Labour party, one thing is now certain - there will be a referendum on whether the British political state should cease to exist, probably in 2010. That, of course, is also the probable date for the next general election.

Hard to see how Gordon Brown makes it that far, but if he does he takes the Union with him when he goes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 6, 2008 7:21 PM
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