Today marks one year since the Scottish independence referendum and many of the key figures are reflecting on how politics has changed. Alistair Darling, the former Labour Chancellor and leader of the Better Together campaign, spoke on the Today programme about Scotland, but it was the remarks on his own party that were the most striking. He said Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader thanks to the ‘disillusionment’ of people who are ‘fed up with the established order’. But Darling said ‘I honestly don’t know’ whether John McDonnell will ever become Chancellor:
‘Just at the moment, it seems to me to be difficult [to judge] but I’m willing to be surprised. I’m sure all clouds have a silver lining but I haven’t quite seen the silver lining here yet.’
Darling also urged the new Labour leader to offer clarity on where he stands on key issues — something he believes has been missing:
‘Jeremy Corbyn has won, he won overwhelmingly and he has a mandate. I know what he’s against but I’m not actually sure what he is for. And what I would say to him, if I had a conversation with him, is that he must know first impressions gained by the electorate, especially of a party leader, tend not to go away and less than week after he’s been elected, I think he needs to spell out where he stands on key issues – like the economy. Because if he doesn’t then frankly he’s never going to get off the ground.’
Alex Salmond has also being touring the airwaves this morning, suggesting that Scottish independence is now inevitable in the near future. Darling naturally disagrees that the ‘omens’ favour the nationalists:
‘He’s been saying that for the last 40 years. Look, we voted 12 months ago and the result was decisive. It was a 10 per cent majority. There is no appetite I think on the part of the Scottish public for another referendum anytime soon and indeed Nicola Sturgeon, now the First Minister, is in no hurry either because she will not call a referendum until she thinks she can win it. And she knows she can’t.’
Darling was granted a peerage in the Dissolution Honours so it’s good to see that he is not ducking out of mainstream politics just yet. But these comments on the referendum and Corbyn will be pounced on by the Cybernats and Cybercorbynites as being smears against their side. So on this happy anniversary, Darling can look forward to receiving plenty of the abuse and anger — just like he experienced on this day in 2014.