Sunday, 1 July 2012

Better Together ....

.... On 25th June the Better Together campaign finally launched. In this special newsletter we cover the launch and give a few reflections on it.

As we arrived, outside there was a token Nationalist protest – about a dozen demonstrators had draped out dozens of Scottish Flags at the entrance to the launch as if our flag was a nationalist symbol. 

Obviously they had not read ODN’s article from last week where we firmly established that it was a symbol of a Scotland united within the United Kingdom and not a separatist icon. I doubt they realised the irony but they were in fact flying our flag!

It was quite a different type of launch from the Yes Scotland launch of a few weeks past and rightly so. Perhaps lessons were learned from that and a more realistic approach to starting a campaign on the serious issue of Scotland’s future was adopted – placing this in the hands of the real people of Scotland and not just celebrities and political personalities.

Although the interviews with the representatives of the people of Scotland were a little rehearsed they still came over as genuine. These were ordinary men and women, young and old, from all backgrounds and, like us, they were people who believed passionately that Scotland should remain within the UK. It was good to hear this voiced by the actual people of Scotland rather than just the politicians. 

In our opinion, the shipbuilders from the Clyde were the star attraction. They were suitably blunt when it came to their turn to be interviewed - as only Glaswegians can be. “We fight together, we work together and as the slogan says, we are Better Together”. 

There was no way they wanted to leave the Union! 

The politicians were also there of course, but apart from Alistair Darling’s flagship speech, their presence was much more low key, mingling with the crowd and not intentionally making themselves the stars of the show, although they proved a magnet for the press.

Alistair Darling said in his speech that when Scotland votes in the referendum, we will face a historic choice which will shape our country and our families' futures, not just for the lifespan of a parliament, but for generations to come. 

“Chairing this campaign,” he said, “Is one of the most important things I have ever done in politics - the decision we make is the most important we will make in our lifetime."

He also warned that a vote for independence was like buying Scotland's children a one-way ticket to uncertainty.

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Lib Dem leader gave the closing remarks saying, “Your decision is not really just for you, it's for future generations too - it is a big responsibility to make a decision about what legacy you want to leave for future generations.

“But it is a decision that we will take together - throughout this campaign, you will hear why we are safer, stronger and better together - you will hear from all three parties here today but more importantly you'll hear from individuals like the people here today.

"From every corner and every community in Scotland we will take nothing for granted in the campaign to keep our family together, we will work for every single vote."

Annabel Goldie, the former Conservative leader in Scotland, was a real knockout as an interviewer. She may not have been able to reverse the Tories fortunes here in Scotland, but members and supporters of all political parties have always liked and trusted her. She will be a great asset to this type of campaign where politicians have to reach out in a genuine way to the people of Scotland.

We had opportunity to interact with most of the politicians there, building on previous contacts, and, with some, even grabbing a chat – including Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont, Margaret Curran, Anas Sarwar, Ruth Davidson, David McLetchie, Annabel Goldie and Murdo Fraser. 

Most we know already and have had discussions with about ODN – to agree with both how we could support them and also how they could support us as we reached out at a grass roots level to those who wished to preserve the Union, including many with no real political inclination at all.

Not surprisingly, the SNP have commented already on the launch. The main thrust of Alex Salmond’s response however seems to be that Better Together is a “Tory-led campaign, which is intent on conceding nothing to the people of Scotland.”. 

He claimed that Alistair Darling was operating as the frontman for a Tory-led campaign. 

In our opinion, Alistair Darling is no one’s front man as evidenced by his willingness stand up for his views to Gordon Brown in the last Labour government. Hopefully the people of Scotland will see through Alex Salmond’s claim. 

In fact Alex Salmond actually had nothing positive to say about Independence anywhere in his rebuttal to Better Together - only negative comments - which seemed a little ironic as in the past he has often accused the pro-Union campaign of being excessively negative.

I think the most interesting observation on the launch however came from one ODN supporter we dispatched down to Haymarket station early Monday morning, to pick up one of the leaflets being distributed at Scottish stations, as a prelude to the launch. As he approached he saw no sign of leaflets being clutched or even being read by commuters streaming from the station. Indeed he wondered if the information he had got had been wrong. However it was not wrong and a leaflet was soon in his hands although it had obviously not been of much interest to the other commuters.

This does point to a general indifference in the population at large. We suspect that it’s not that they don’t care about the future of Scotland or really want to split from the rest of the UK - but this is no longer exciting new news and the campaign still has a further two and a bit years to run – time enough in most people’s plans to get involved later – if it looks like being a close call. 

It’s very easy to forget this as we mingle and chat to other passionate Unionists involved in the campaign and who want the real push to start now and keep going at a frantic pace til 2014. 

That strategy just won’t work. 

Indeed, if we expect others to share this passion we may be disappointed. The reality is that we are in this for the long haul and the campaign to save the Union must in fact be a long term campaign that is carefully and strategically thought out. 

We cannot sprint for 100m and then expect to have enough stamina to win the much longer and more strength sapping 15,000m

The positive thing however is that with the launch of Better Together a balance has been restored and at ODN we welcome this.

For too long – even before the launch of the Yes Scotland campaign – the SNP have made the debate on Scotland’s future a one horse race. There was no other voice of any consequence!

But there is now a powerful and credible counter to this. We are indeed “Better Together”
At One Dynamic Nation we are committed to working together in partnership with Better Together and will keep you posted on developments and where you can help.

We issued a press release on the day of the launch where we pledged the following:-

“To demonstrate our support and to keep actively representing our own followers, many of whom we hope will also be actively involved in the united Better Together campaign and to avoid duplication of effort, we propose:-

  • · To work with Better Together as a partner contributing to a united campaign in defending the Union.
  • · To offer advice, knowledge, expertise, experience and resource to Better Together.
  • · To support Better Together in a public way including promoting this organisation on our web site and in any material we generate including our weekly newsletter.
  • · To continue to represent those who have no particular political affiliation or who do not wish to be publically associated with an organisation that is a political initiative and to represent their interests
  • · To work at grass roots level and continue to grow by promoting the Union and gathering support for it at this level primarily through social media, word of mouth and our weekly newsletter which now has a credible and steadily increasing circulation.
  • · To work with Better Together on research projects, coordinating efforts, so that resource is not duplicated.”
We would also encourage you to join Better Together at their website:-

 A message for Wales too, "Better Together" ......

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