The Scottish speech is normally a neglected part of the Labour Party conference but has more potency now that there’s less than a year to go to the referendum. Johann Lamont, leader of Scottish Labour, is an important actor in the battle to save the union. The Tory vote in Scotland has been reduced to staff members
and blood relatives so much depends on whether Labour is able to pack a punch. And Ms Lamont certainly is. She rather cleverly mocked the way that Salmond is in full hyperbole mode, declaring every second day an ‘historic’ day — to create the idea that we’re building up to some Braveheart-style Independence Day. She had this to say:
‘It seems the Scottish Government just need to call a press conference for the day to become historic. Well I look forward to coming back to conference after the historic day next year when Scotland renews its embrace of the United Kingdom – and makes the politics of narrow nationalism a thing of history.’
Then she focused on Salmond’s irritating ‘L’ecosse, c’est moi’ apporach to politics where what the SNP wants is what ‘Scotland’ wants and those opposed all live in Notting Hill.
The nationalists’ central deceit is that inequality in Scotland was created in 1707 and can be eradicated by the re-establishment of an independent Scotland. They believe that Scotland is, by its nature, more progressive. They create the impression that this debate is somehow Scotland versus the Tories. It is not. Scotland does not agree with Alex Salmond – and if we work hard over the next year it will become increasingly clear this is Scotland versus Salmond and Scotland is going to win.
And her peroration was just as good:
The next year is about defeating the politics of nationalism, a
virus that has affected so many nations and done so much harm. An
ideology that never achieved anything. But it is about more than
that. It is about Scotland and all our nations embracing the ideal
of the United Kingdom.
Salmond is very good at late campaign recovery. But it seems that Scottish Labour — a shambles for so many years — has got its act together in time for the biggest
political fight of my lifetime. Its recovery is good to see.