George Galloway announced his support for Gordon Brown as First Minister of Scotland last night. Galloway’s endorsement came as Brown turned up at an event at Usher Hall in Edinburgh that Galloway was compering. The endorsement was met with a broad grin by Brown.
But behind the humour, there is a serious point, Scottish Labour knows that it has given Salmond and the SNP far too easy a ride at Holyrood. As the former Labour Minister Brian Wilson acknowledged at last night’s event, this referendum is happening because the SNP managed to win a majority in the Scottish Parliament and Labour must take some of the blame for that. That this referendum is so close is also because so many traditional Labour voters are now backing independence.
Galloway’s role in this campaign is a reminder of the weakness of Scottish Labour. That the Labour dominated No campaign is having to rely so heavily on a man who was expelled from the party to appeal to a significant slice of the its traditional base is revealing of how it has lost touch with these voters.
Even if Scotland votes No, I suspect that we will see some Labour figures heading north ahead of the 2016 Holyrood elections. The Edinburgh rumour mill is convinced that Jim Murphy will make this journey. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there were others too.
But don’t hold your breath for Brown declaring he’s running. He is visibly enjoying being on the campaign trail again and the sense that he’s the man saving the Union. The prospect, though, of a full time return to the rough and tumble of front-line politics is, one suspects, rather less appealing than intervening in the most important vote in Scotland’s recent history.