It’s September 19th 2014, and Scotland has voted “No”.
“Role up! Role up!” calls the man at the news stand. “The union has been saved!”
Handing over my coins, I open the day’s paper to a picture of the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown; his hand in the air, his face split in a wide smile, as small Union Jack’s flutter down from the top of the frame. Atop is the headline: “THE MAN WHO SAVED THE UNION”.
As I read through the paper I managed to draw some conclusions from it: Scotland had rejected the notion of independence, and Brown’s final impassioned speech on the day before the vote at the Maryhill Community Hall in Glasgow. He had spoken of Britain’s unity during the First and Second World Wars; of Scots’ pride in their country and institutions; of the silent majority “who are silent no more”; of how Scotland “belongs to all of us!”. He had stormed across the stage, imploring his supporters, and the rest of the country, to vote “No thanks” to independence.
Just days before I had read that Brown had also signed a “Vow” with the leaders of the three main Westminster parties: David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and Ed Miliband. In it, they had promised Scotland more powers over tax, and protection of the NHS.
Promising news. None were in any doubt that the leaders intended to provide Scotland with more powers, but the signing of a “Vow” on the front page of a newspaper sounded more concrete.
Now, the referendum is won, we await the powers. Gordon Brown battled off the invading army of Yes supporters, who threatened to steal our country, and now we will get what we want.
The date is now October 1st 2014, and things could not look more bizarre.
Gordon Brown has set up a petition of the campaign website 38 Degrees, seeking the signatures of 100,000 Scots, demanding that David Cameron adheres to his vows to deliver Scottish devolution.
Gordon Brown looks to have made a fool of himself. For the latter part of the referendum campaign he was wheeled out to be a hero of the nation, and tell Scotland that it would get just as it asked for if it voted “No”. Now he appears to have been stabbed in the back, and has turned his head to look bleary-eyed at his attacked and mumbled “et tu, David?”
Throughout the campaign, my interpretation of Brown’s motives was that he wanted to be back in the political game. From his manner, he appeared to be after Johann Lamont’s job as leader of the Scottish Labour party. Indeed, he appeared more, spoke more, and appealed to more people that Lamont did, who seemed to drift to the sidelines during the campaign.
Brown slowly moved up the ladder, gaining support as he went, only to find himself bumping his head on the ceiling of the House of Commons. He has been trapped in Cameron’s web.
It is interesting how suddenly devolution has fallen off the table. Immediately after the vote, David Cameron came out and said that he would “honour” his vows made to the Scottish people (something he reiterates at his party conference), but that England should also get more devolutionary powers.
Brown did not see that one coming I’d bet. Suddenly, the Scottish question had become the English question, with the Tories arguing that the two could work in tandem, and would meet the dates set by the timetable for Scottish devolution. Now, however, there is nothing left. The focus has turned to the Middle East and the destruction of ISIS/ IS/ ISIL.
It is clear that Gordon Brown has gone from hero to zero. What appeared to be his plan to restore his credibility and become top dog in the Scottish Labour party has gone horribly wrong. Trust in Labour in Scotland appears to be wavering. Ed Miliband is unpopular, and (according to some of my sources within Labour) Lamont is described as “a mistake” by some, with others calling for Jim “Egg” Murphy to take up her position.
All in all, things have not turned out well for Brown, as he is – and has always been – a puppet for the Tories. It’s not the Scottish people who have had a trap set for them by Cameron, it’s Brown himself.