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Seeking a new Unionism

Brian Taylor | 18:18 UK time, Friday, 28 March 2008

A few firsts on offer in Aviemore today.

Wendy Alexander's first Scottish party conference since taking over the Labour leadership at Holyrood. Gordon Brown's first as Prime Minister.

Plus, of course, the small matter of this being the first conference since Labour lost power in the Scottish Parliament.

Yet another innovation. Gordon Brown spoke entirely without notes - rather, dare one say it, Cameron-style.

He paced like a lion, or some alternative feline, at the front of the Aviemore stage, as he offered his ideas to the delegates.

The theme was familiar: a defence of the Union, an attack on the SNP. But you could detect too the fruits of Labour's search for new language in this field.

The PM prepared very thoroughly for this ad lib address. He knew well that rather more than a standard stump speech was required.

He consulted his advisers carefully. What to say on the Union? Don't say Scotland can't afford independence. Sounds too patronising, annoys the voters.

Don't bash the Nats too much. Doesn't go down well, especially when they won more votes than Labour in May. If you're not careful, can sound like you're saying the voters were daft.

So search for a new narrative about the Union. Stress Scottish roots, both personal and party - but stress a multi-faceted relevance for Britain too.

Thus Gordon Brown argued that it was a moral and economic imperative to deploy all the skills of Scotland's and Britain's people. He claimed that the SNP budget would undermine education and skills training.

Then he attempted to stress key British icons. Not the Queen, not fair play, not old maids cycling to evensong - offered by sundry PMs in the past. Rather he talked of the NHS and universal education.

Finally, he argued that the current generation faced the prospect of eradicating global poverty and disease, if the political will existed.

Such a will, he argued, would be diluted by creating new State boundaries within the United Kingdom.

In truth, there are logical weak points in the emerging Brown approach.

For example, he argues that climate change cannot be countered on an England-only or Scotland-only basis. Quite true - but, taken at face value, an argument for world government, sans frontieres.

State boundaries there must be. The argument is where those boundaries should be placed, respecting identity, efficiency and political acceptability.

But, be in no doubt, we are seeing an effort to create a new Unionism.

The Commission to review devolution, the prospect of a new funding system, the prospective review of Barnett.


  • 1.
  • At 07:59 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • John Leven wrote:

Brian you said,

The PM prepared very thoroughly for this ad lib address.

Maybe not thoroughly enough. He said that only Labour supported pupils staying at school until they were 18. I thought that in the best wee booklet in the world produced by the perfect 10 last week, she ditched that proposal, as reported to distance herself from Jack McConnell.

Apart from that preparation more Broon rubbish. He mentioned pensions but forgot the raid on private pensions, oh and the 75 pence per week rise he gave to pensioners, I guess that slipped his mind as well.

A speech with little substance for Scotland, apart from the fiction about 10, we could have been listening to a speech made to the United Nations.

  • 2.
  • At 08:12 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Old Tam wrote:

It might have been an attempt at new language Brian but as ever with Brown, it was without substance. Just vague rhetoric and as you say, no logic. None of the countries comparable with Scotland seek an incorporating union with larger neighbours - they realise that keeping control over their own affairs serves them better. Do the Anglais of whom we have heard so much this week wish union with France, to face global issues - no of course not. Complete tosh.
Personally, I can't wait till the English boot him out. Although I'd prefer the good folk of Fife to beat them to it.

  • 3.
  • At 08:14 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • MalcolmW wrote:

Brown cannot defend the Union; the only people who can do that are the silent majority in England, Scotland and Wales who know that it makes sense. Celebrate nationalism in every home nation (yes, Jack Straw, that includes England) but confront those who claim that any of them would be stronger apart than united in an increasingly competitive world. The shouting minority, especially in Scotland, have had their time in the spotlight for long enough already. It was Brown and Blair who created large cracks from small fissures in the first place. I can't accept that either has any credibility in defending the Union now.

  • 4.
  • At 08:15 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • John Clark wrote:

A new unionism? More like old school nepotism. The highlight (lowpoint) I heard from the Lab conference ad-lib was that, according to Paw Broon, Wendy Alexander WILL BE Scottish First Minister! Is this not something that should be controlled by the Scottish electorate? Perhaps the Broon Seer knows something we don't? According to my sources on the ground in Kirkcaldy, he shoud be more worried about his own ministerial tenure, since to be the UK PM, you must first be (re)elected to Westminster as an MP..... The demise of a PM through the lack of support at his home constituancy would certainly be an enjoyable and historical turn of events. Perhaps Wendy would find a cushie permanant job for him on the oposition side at home.

  • 5.
  • At 08:17 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • David wrote:

So new Labour devolves power and does not like the results.

The Scots have used this new power to create a state that gives better health care and better access to health care.

They provide better education and do not prevent disadvantaged kids from going to uni amd bettering themselves without punitive fees.

So Scotland has delivered what your party (Mr Brown) promised all of us.

Shame on you. Get your (English) house in order before you dare to lecture others.

  • 6.
  • At 08:36 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • PMK wrote:

Seems Brown has finally realised he has a fight on his hands. To think he had the cheek to stand there and say Wendy Alexander will be the next First Minister, when he will probably be long-gone as PM when the next Holyrood election wheels round. View it as an acknowledgement Scotland is heading to a two-bloc, if not two-party system. Also, how can wendy explain her comment giving herself ten out of ten for her performance thus far?! Considering the beating Labour and her personally are taking in the polls, imagine she had performed "badly"!

The Labour conference broadcast was interesting however, Keir Hardie and such like. Wonder what he would make of an arch-unionist party working in tandem with the Tories having dropped socialism completely from its agenda?

  • 7.
  • At 08:40 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • David wrote:

Surely the Scottish People and Not The Labour Party know what is best for Scotland. And from where I am standing that is the chance to decide for ourselves in a referendum.

I read an article earlier this month about how the UK is considering entering the arena of manned space flight.

Astoundingly, we are seeing the fruits of this labour (pardon the pun) already, for if Gordon Brown is suggesting, as he did in his speech, that Wendy Alexander will be the next First Minister, then surely he must be on another planet.

Oh, and it's interesting that he mentioned universal education in his defence of the union. While he may have a point, the fact that Scotland had such a thing before England (and before the union) might come back to bite him.

  • 9.
  • At 09:56 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Gavin wrote:

Listening to highlights of the conference and Gordon Brown's speech, I find it disturbing that the UK PM chooses to ignore the elected bodies in Scotland and appears to think it is OK to deal with Scottish Labour as if they continued to hold a people's mandate to represent Scotland.

I appreciate the problem of how do UK Labour, being the party in Government for the UK play a different role to Scottish Labour, a party in opposition. Ignoring the issue and acting like nothing is different all feels very odd.

  • 10.
  • At 10:06 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Brian wrote:

the new Unionism.. savaged by a dead sheep AGAIN!

  • 11.
  • At 11:08 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • stephen wrote:

Hi Brian,

Although mthat the review or commission is but atoothless monster, I myself am inherently worried that Brown and co will use it to take back planning powers and reduce Scotlands barnett settlement. Not to anger all those cybernats out there but to placate the voters of middle england and to overcome hurdles for the son of trident and new nuclear power station's.

This is my greatest fear, not a resurgence in Labour power in Scotland, this is gone for the time being and may never be as powerfull again, much to my pleasure.

  • 12.
  • At 11:11 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Will Wall wrote:

Hi Brian

Nothing changed then the same old rhetoric from power labourites who say they listen to what the natives say but will blame everything on the SNP. I have just listened to Scotland at Ten same old spin big is beautiful we know what is best for you as we listen to you (our close associates, especially those in foreign lands). They have controlled local government all my life and nothing has ever changed, just promise after promise. Is it not about time that they started learn some of the lessons that they promised they would learn from regarding their past errors of judgements. I doubt it as they are still controlled by their political masters over the border. We have brains and are far more willing to use them than they give us credit for. Some honesty might serve them well.

  • 13.
  • At 11:34 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • karin wrote:

So we are seeing an effort to create "new" unionism are we brian. Well there is that old adage if it isnt broke dont attempt to fix it. Given that every party in scotland is attempting to produce a solution to old unionism that tells me the union is well and truly broken. In which case perhaps its not a new union we need but a NEW SCOTLAND. One where the peoples veiws are welcomed and indeed sought by the government we elect. Oh wait we have that the SNP government. Broon take your broken union and your broken record politics and bin it.

  • 14.
  • At 11:52 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Bryce Miller wrote:

"Rather he talked of the NHS and universal education."

Unfortunatly for Mr Brown, Education and Health are devolved matters.

Of course, his party is united across these isles in opposing universal education. At Westminster they introduced top-up fees (even though they said they wouldn't), and at Holyrood it took the Liberals to get the cost down to the graduate endowment, and the SNP to scrap the barrier altogether.

I particularly enjoyed Sarkozy's visit when he said "we're stronger together"; an oft repeated line from the Unionist's toolkit. I look forward to the disolution of the Westminster parliament, and legislative powers moving to Paris.

  • 15.
  • At 11:52 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Takan Inch wrote:

If you can defend Britishness you can defend Scottishness. The expression "Think about it" comes to mind. Brown loves barriers,separation and division. The SNP are more kindly and see within Europe the need for none of these but they do see the need for the Scottish point of view being heard.

  • 16.
  • At 11:57 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Glen Allan wrote:

Labour are the party for the NHS?

When they were in power at Holyrood they tried to close all the A&E's in rural locations to achieve a "better" centralised service (please note this better service did not include the extra 20 minutes you would have to spend in the back of an ambulance)

I also saw their party political broadcast trying to remind Scots of Labour's past record 20's - 50's good, what happened after that? Imagine this lot trying to compare themselves with the original party who put socialism at the heart of everything they did. (New Labour - capitalism at the heart of everything they do)

One good thing though at least they haven't let Wendy shoot the campaign in the foot yet - will she get a chance to say anything original while Big Gordon is up visiting from Westminster?

  • 17.
  • At 01:18 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Steve Tait wrote:

Education,Education,Education. Marks out of 10.......10, we don't need to listen, we don't need to learn?
Nice point in your webcast Brian, "What are you scared of in an referendum Wendy?"
Simple fact,never mind being tied by the apron strings, Gordon has a choke chain on Scottish Labour!

  • 18.
  • At 01:32 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Gregor Murray wrote:

I don't understand though - he wants to stress Labour's record on the Health Service and in Eduction, yet when the (dare I call them Socialist) principals of free Education and a free NHS at the point of use are put to the Scottish Parliament in the form of the scrapping of the Graduate Endowment Tax and the Prescription charges, the Labour party vote against them?


Well done to the Labour member with the principles who went against the party whip on the GET. This man is clearly deluded and not in with the Scottish political mindset at the moment, especially when he says Wendy will be the next FM. I very much doubt that.

Gordon Brown claimed that the SNP budget would undermine education and skills training without providing any evidence, but what he failed to say was that he himself is responsible for the biggest cut in a decade of Scotland's budget.

He can spout forth his ideals as much as he likes, but the people won't forget about all of his party's illegal and corrupt practices in their use or should I say abuse of the law.

He is living in a wonderland if he thinks that Wendy Alexander is fit to be a First Minister in Scotland.

At the next election he will be very lucky to get himself re-elected, as the economy is in a downward spiral which he is in no small way responsible for.

The more he tries to hold back the referendum vote for Independence, the greater the demand will become, mostly because Britain is not working very well and he is the administrator of that entity.

All of Scotland's institutions are filled with Labour placemen, and because of that the SNP Scottish Government have a much harder job to induce changes in Scotland for the benefit of the people, but change will come, despite their opposition.

The people are starting to waken up to what can be done to make Scotland a better country, and which party can deliver that change.


  • 20.
  • At 04:49 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Bob wrote:

Make no mistake and think that this patronising man is really concerned about the Union. He knows that the remnants of a UK without Scotlands resources, the Westminster System and the Un United Kingdom is finished as a force in World Politics.

Both He and Blair joined the Bilderberg Group fourteen months before their miraculous rise to power. This is an organisation that comprises of the most powerfull group of mega rich people on this planet.They are the power that actually run this planets economy, and are the proposers and sponsors of the New World Order. Like Blair and Brown which this organisation put in power, Sarkosy, Bush senior and junior, Merkel, Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary. Check out this organisation and look at the names who want to run the World with a philosophy designed around cold calculated business. They have already agreed that the cure for global warming is to reduce the worlds Population to 2.5 billion People by way of extermination by methods such as starving all those in third world countries.

Yes it sounds far fetched but check it out, and form your own opinion.

The UK is scheduled to be a full member of the European Union, whether we like it or not. Once that happens the process will be sealed up by the formation of a European Army, Navy and Airforce, who will be commited to a united war machine with the new North American Union.

Russia, China and the remaining Independant Coutries will be isolated economicaly until they come on board.

Brown must be thrown out of the Government NOW, and losing Scotland as part of the EU, will leave Brown as no more than a failure who could not deliver his required quota.

  • 21.
  • At 07:37 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Alan Clayton wrote:

So this time instead of border guards and terrorists we are going to get lousy weather if we go independent.We have that already, pal.Pathetic

  • 22.
  • At 08:59 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Robert Campbell wrote:

Hi Brian,

Love your blog. I always enjoy reading peoples points of view on what is going on in our Country. I have been reading it for a while but this is my first post.

In my opinion nothing will change with 'new unionism'.

Scottish Labour:-

- are not interested in History being taught in our Schools.
- don't mind the Scottish economy being one of the worst performing in Europe.
- are not concerned that the Scottish population is staying almost the same. Bucking the trend for most other countries in Europe.
- refer to Britain as 'the nation'.
- do not want Scotland to have any more powers over her own affairs.
- are willing for the Scottish Government to go through another body - in the Scottish office - before speaking to the UK Government sending the signal that the Scottish Parliament is a puppet Parliament.
- don't understand that if Scotland has more power over her own affairs it creates jobs and wealth.
- don't understand that policies and decision making don't always work the same way for a nation of 5 million people as for a nation of 60 million.
- are happy that the broadcasting industry in Scotland is insufficiently funded and the people do not get value for money.
- are happy with bridge tolls and higher travel costs than the rest of the UK and most of Europe.
- are happy that all tax revenue raised in Scotland goes directly to Westminster who give a portion back and are happy to perpetuate the myth that Scotland are subsidised.
- are happy for more nuclear power stations to be built in Scotland even though the majority of people don't want them and there are better ways to produce energy for only 5million people.
- have done nothing for the people that keep voting them in in Glasgow.
- are happy that the only inward investment in Scotland is military and nuclear weapon sites.
- are happy that they have a huge proportion of Scottish voters that will vote for them no how badly the perform.

Anyone want to add to the list?

I think a union of 'common good' between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland could be a good thing. But the present system needs a major over-haul because it is not working in its present format. But that is not going to happen because politicians have too much to lose in the loss of power and influence. So I think Independence is the best way forward for Scotland. Why would any Scottish Unionist who feels proud to be Scottish not want Scotland to raise her own money and then make a contribution to Westminster? And I mean raise money from all sources. If Gordon Brown's 'review' of Scottish powers includes raising taxes it is guaranteed not to include oil revenues. But why not? We are a country. Let us be in charge of OUR country. And if we are going to stay in the union then we will make an appropriate contribution. Most of the time I get the impression speaking to most unionists that although they say they are proud to be Scottish they don't really think of Scotland as a country.

  • 23.
  • At 09:02 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Derick wrote:

'pacing like a lion'? - suggest 'alternative feline' might be similar to slightly tatty lion from Wizard of Oz!!

Dorothy! what do you mean 'a perfect 10'. heh!

The NHS? 'Hospital Deep Clean Target Missed'

Universal Education? University fees and choosing which of your children you can afford to send??

We know Labour is against the SNP - in the morning, in the day and when they wake up all sweaty at 4am.

But what is Labour actually for??

  • 24.
  • At 09:20 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Alan Clayton wrote:

What about the war? What about Trident?The Scotish people want to know.

  • 25.
  • At 10:23 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • daveymac wrote:

I'm sure Wendy would have given it a 10 out of 10, Brian.
However, Mr Brown was very limited in concrete, demonstrable Union benefits.
One amazing thing he stated was in trying to tie Scottish self determination with 20th C. nationalism. Specifically he mentioned that it would be backward for Scotland to have things like Embassies and borders in the modern world.

Last I looked the UK had many Embassies, the UK protects its defined borders, has passport control and import / export norms just like very other modern state. Yet if Scotland were to have this it would suddenly be backward and insular?

In reality Scotland wants to stop being usurped for UK interests. This is not a partnership of equals, if it were the SNP would never have risen in popularity.
Gordon and his UK party needs and uses Scotland for their own positions, nothing more.

Finally, Wendys big idea for Scottish Economic growth: "Modern apprentiships", Brian. That was it "Modern apprentiships"! Dire stuff.

  • 26.
  • At 10:26 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Takan Inch wrote:

Brown cannot travel much in modern Europe or he would notice few barriers. The advantage for Scotland being Independent would be to have its voice heard at the top table and not vainly hoping our next door neighbour remembers to say our piece for us. The differences in Foreign Policy alone is vast (we were against Iraq war etc,we are against Trident etc) never mind the more domestic issues of fish and farming.

  • 27.
  • At 10:50 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Takan Inch wrote:

Brown is just picking fights . His every comment is absurd. Take NHS and Education, They are Independent now apart from funding. Take "barriers" OK you cannot and will not find any. The SNP are much more capable and skilled in running Scotland and he thinks his PA Wendy will do better. He looks flat footed trying to rubbish Scottish competence. Prudence has deserted him.

I don't think Gordon realises the complement he has just paid the SNP. A British Prime Minister has to spell out the fact that his party must stand up to the SNP.

Following the disaster of the Thacher victory in '79 the SNP were effectively an irrelevance in British Politics. Now, 30 years later the entire 'British' establishment is being forced into uneasy coalition to defend the Union from that former 'irrelevance'.

From a position of personal weakness the Scottish and UK Labour leaders have a very difficult task ahead of them, the party languishing in the polls both sides of the border doesn't help either.

11 months of 'Intelligent Government' headed by one of the shrewdest and most charismatic leaders in recent UK politics is making Labour's task almost impossible, as reflected in the odds given by bookies, who tend to have a pretty good grasp of world and local events.

By the way, any speaker worth his salt who knows his subject speaks without notes, whilst walking the stage. The physical act of walking diverts the mind from any emotional build up of anxiety thus aiding concentration.

  • 29.
  • At 11:19 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

A message not delivered by the pacing feline, withheld as it was merely because there currently is no clear alternative available should not be seen as closure on this issue; fear not the appropriate message will be delivered as soon as an alternative is available or a disastrous failure advances its necessity for delivery:

Wendy Alexander, you are the Weakest Link; goodbye.

  • 30.
  • At 11:39 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Malcolm wrote:

A New Unionsim as espoused by Gordon Brown will be like New Labour - corrupt, crooked, mendacious and cowardly.

Why should Scots stick with a Britain that will steal their future when they can enjoy success in an independent Scotland?

PS Brian your interview with Wendy Alexander proved that you are not a Paxman or a Brewer. Powder-puff stuff.

  • 31.
  • At 11:44 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Gavin wrote:

There is something a little disturbing about the UK PM using his position to bolster Scottish Labour in opposition. What other country would tollerate such interferance in internal affairs and disregard for elected representatives?

  • 32.
  • At 01:57 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • m macmerry wrote:

brian, so a pass as per excellance,
DREAM ON WENDY,my own on points 1 out 10 and thats generous,no lessons
learned there then..but its ok to be
hopfull,i'm sure alex ears will be burning today after all is'nt he the cause of all ails in britain,perhaps even the heathrow mess,who knows?
so she does not believe in letting
US SCOTS deciding our own future
because she dos'nt believe in independence,WHATS SHE SCARRED OFF?

  • 33.
  • At 02:23 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • J Stevenson wrote:

Brown, Salmond and the rest are playing games with us. They, and all the others, are transient nonentities. Post #3 is correct... the silent majority will decide, not the loudmouths.
Meanwhile we have to cope with incompetence, be it in banking, business or politics. Look at the mess we're in. None of it has much to do with the Union, or would be improved by its demise. People realise this. That's why they refused a clear majority to any party. Let's deal with the real issues that affect real people, and stop pretending that daft inadequates at Holyrood can make a difference.

  • 34.
  • At 04:13 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • fiona wrote:

brown like a lion..........AYE RIGHT....


save us from sanctimonious, odious people like these.

new unionism..good god have heard it all now....I can see new unionism going down well in surrey...

ask yourself why labour actually want Scotland in the union ??? who does it benefit...not Scotland thats for sure...

  • 35.
  • At 05:01 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Mark Hirst wrote:


I noted last night that you said that Labour had attacked the SNP by highlighting the importance of great British institutions like the NHS and education. NHS possibly, although how well it would be performing without the benefits of penicillin (invented by a Scot) is questionable – that aside – British nationalists/unionists cannot claim that the Scottish education system is one of the “union dividends” as thankfully our education system has remained entirely independent from that in England. Not sure if this was your slip or you were just repeating the uneducated view of Labour Ministers who long since lost touch with any notion of Scottishness they ever possessed.

  • 36.
  • At 05:39 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • steve wrote:

Wendy Alexander is not the intellectual giant she is portrayed as. She has had a spoiled and cosseted upbringing mixing with the "great" and the "good" of the Scottish Labour Party and it shows. She is immature ,she has never had a real job in the real world. The voters will never forget her dictatorial stance over clause 28 . A clause which was never in the Labout manifesto but which as her pet project she forced through with utter contempt for the people of Scotland. We call such people tyrants. Wendy your time is almost up and your getting what you deserve. As far as her self assesment of her performance as leader as being 10 out of 10 well all I can say is "To whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad"
I look forward to watching the latest episode.the train crash that is now Labour in Scotland under the leadership of Verucca Salt.

  • 37.
  • At 06:27 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Craig M wrote:

I've heard nothing from Brown or Alexander to even remotely persuade me to vote for Labour in any future elections.

  • 38.
  • At 06:46 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Donald wrote:

I'm rather glad Brian isn't a Paxman or a Brewer; both of these gentlemen bluster to little effect.

Paxman sounds tough, but let Blair away numerous times with lying through his teeth. Brewer tries so hard to out-Paxman Paxman that neither he nor his subject are allowed to get to the point. Which favours the interviewee no end, in the case of politicians.

Paper tigers, both of them. Keep at it Brian. Let them have the rope to hang themselves with, e.g. "10 out of 10"! Self-awareness never was her strength. Bless.


  • 39.
  • At 07:26 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • J S wrote:

Thig ar latha...Soar Alba!

  • 40.
  • At 07:30 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • J S wrote:

Labour are no longer a socialist party, none of their policies are in the interest of scotland. It infuriates me to hear dour politicians such as nicol stephen and goldie that we cannot run our own country.when no one can really say what they actually stand for apart from "new unionism" it makes me sick

  • 41.
  • At 08:17 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • scyinical sid. wrote:

hi if new unionism goes anything like new labour you know where you can shove it.

  • 42.
  • At 08:18 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • HughB wrote:

Watched Wendys speech.

Totally without substance and with blazing untruths.

Talked more about the SNP than Labours "new" policies, because Labour cannot offer anything new.

Looking at the audience, I'm surprised she got any "applause" at all. They all looked miserable, as if to say is this the person pretending to lead us. Any applause she did get was very muted, with a large percentage of the audience not applauding at all.

All in all, another dismal performance from such a "towering intellect". Oh well, that'll be another spin doctor bitting the dust shortly.

Too much wallowing in the past again, and too much talk about fighting everybody and everything.

Forget that Wendy. You are supposed to be there to serve Scotland, and if you just stop fighting for a while and start serving, then you might gain a little more popularity. However, in your current state of "aggression" and thoughts of "invincibility", you have no hope of being perceived as working for the people.

With the obvious lack of understanding of any countries need to run it's own affairs, and a serious hole in your knowledge of Scottish history, and selective ignorance, you just don't understand Scotland.
You should go to Westminster, as I think you would have a better chance of staying on the bandwagon there.

You praised JMcC for the smoking ban, but again, selective ignorance, as that was an SNP proposal that you adopted.

  • 43.
  • At 08:48 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • James wrote:

A couple of points:

It seems that Brown is more committed to Africa than he is to Scotland. Trying to eliminate poverty in Africa is a worthy objective but we have problems here in Scotland which he doesn’t mention. I get the impression that Brown is more interested in having an African legacy that will be recorded in the History books when he is gone.

Harriet Harman said we should expect to see more Government Ministers from Westminster visiting Scotland. If they haven’t been interested enough to visit Scotland in the past so why should we want to see them now? Especially as we know that it is just a ploy to raise Labour’s profile here, but it will be totally meaningless.

  • 44.
  • At 09:45 PM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • Will Wall wrote:

Self delusion comes to mind throughout the Labour party especially after hearing the arrogance from bendy Wendy just now. It offers nothing new just more rhetoric drivel. I listened to other members of that declining party on the Leslie Riddoch show where they had listened to the public and (news to me) we don't want seperation, yet when listeners called in with questions they went on their spinning wheels that they new it all. They all need to go back to primary school and start learning that democracy doesn't mean dictatorship those days are long gone.

"... he argued that the current generation faced the prospect of eradicating global poverty and disease, if the political will existed ..." - of course there is no real political will from any member of the G8, even Brown. Plenty of rhetoric true, not much else, if anything the answer will be driven by consumers and stable government in far flung places.

As for the 'union', i have yet to hear a valid argument more maintaining it. Brown's blathering doesn't convince me, and anything Wendy may say is only likely to further entrench the nationalist position ... such are her oratory skills!

  • 46.
  • At 06:00 AM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • Bob wrote:

Universal education in Scotland started with John Knox and the protestant reformers, rather than with the Labour Party.

  • 47.
  • At 12:17 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • Wansanshoo wrote:

As reported in London in 'The Telegraph' friday 28/03/08.

Conservative 43%
Labour 29%
Liberal 17%

Who is Gordon Brown trying to fool?

  • 48.
  • At 12:46 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • PMK wrote:

How are Scottish Labour socialist, if their grand-daddy in London - one GB - has just doubled the lowest income tax rate? Wendy's socialism must really stick in Brown's gullet; Brown's nationalism must equally irritate Ms Alexander!

Answers on the back of a postcard ...

  • 49.
  • At 02:41 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • Gurugordon wrote:

"Paced like a lion or some other feline"? More like a neutered tom cat if you ask me!

It's curious that Gordon Brown should suggest universal education was a 'British' value, seeing that Scotland had it some four hundred years before England.

  • 51.
  • At 06:40 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • Dave wrote:

Being English I am fed up with my country's government constantly trying to rule over other countries affairs.

They should try and look after their own rather than interfere in places they are not even wanted.

  • 52.
  • At 06:56 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • Duncan wrote:

So Wendy Alexander thinks she and Scottish Labour are Socialists - well I've got news for Wendy - she and her comrades in Scottish New Labour wouldn't recognise a real Socialist if one jumped jumped up and bit her on her posterior!

Scottish New Labour is now firmly in bed with the Tories - strange bedfellows indeed!

  • 53.
  • At 06:58 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • LYDIA REID wrote:

I cannot believe it I actually felt sorry for Wendy Alexander and Gordon Brown have you ever heard anything so desperate in your life.
The only thing I can equate this to was the strop thrown by Jack McConnell When he realised he was no longer First Minister.
Wendy for First Minister, ten out of ten. Nothing useful for Scotland unless to take into account the fact that their must be a fair wee panic in somebodies breestie to make them act that way.

  • 54.
  • At 08:08 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • Wansanshoo wrote:

Wendy Alexander.

"I will lead by exposing the dishonesty of the SNP."

(I must admit,I burst out laughing at that remark)

'And just in case anyone's in doubt - I will lead Labour back to power in the Scottish Parliament."

(With personal ratings at minus 22 it would require a miracle.)

She dismissed its "national conversation" on Scotland's constitutional future as "an invitation for every flag-burning blogger to rant and rave".

(Actually, we just want a say in our future,and the main reason your party was not elected.)


  • 55.
  • At 08:42 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • Norman M wrote:

Didn't see anything of the conference & I don't like them. They're always just there to boost their own egos.
BUT, Goggsy Broon. Hopeless or what?
His appalling ratings are a simple result of the public having put great faith in the hope that the Bliar years were behind us, only to find out that Broon is a total cipher as PM. He is the Anthony Eden de nos jours.

  • 56.
  • At 08:37 AM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • mt wrote:

It seems that Brown is more committed to Africa than he is to Scotland. Trying to eliminate poverty in Africa is a worthy objective but we have problems here in Scotland which he doesn’t mention. I get the impression that Brown is more interested in having an African legacy that will be recorded in the History books when he is gone."

I agree!
Whilst I have no problem with helping others, there are many problems within Scotland which need attention including poverty, road conditions, crime, etc.
Charity begins at home

  • 57.
  • At 09:12 AM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Trud McLean wrote:

UK and Scottish Regional Labour are scaring me like the UK and Scottish Tory party of the eighties and nineties. Anti-Scottish and pro union at any cost, includiong their principals.

10 out of 10 for Ms Alexander, says it all, complete contempt for the electorate, her party and Scotland.

How has a party managed to fall so far?

  • 58.
  • At 10:00 AM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Peter Thomson wrote:

Reading the postings on this blog indicates that Brown and Wendy have seriously misread the feeling of people living in Scotland - Brian.

Their Calman review is so out of touch with the real politic of Scotland that even Angus McLeod in the Times has said it will come back and bite the Unionist parties hard in the general election in 2010 and Holyrood in 2011.

Will Nichol and Annabelle support a Wendy House motion of no confidence in the SNP? Only if they have an electorial death wish.

The real measure of Wendy's competence is reflected in the -22% approval rating given her by the people of Scotland.

  • 59.
  • At 10:14 AM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Kenny (Airdrie) wrote:

Just watched Brian Taylors interview with dear old Wendy. She's full of "Lets move on"....."It's time to move on".

Lets just see how quickly Wendy is "moved on".

Wendy Alexander and the rest of Scottish Labour are clearly still in shock and reeling at the SNP's election win. It takes a rip roaring speach (or rip boring speach) from Gordon brown to light the fire under there bums again and decide that their gonna give the SNP a hard time from now on!!!

Maybe Labour should give themselves a hard time for a a bit of soul searching and come out fighting fairly and professionally instead of utilising every opportunity to buck the SNP policy's. Wendy should keep in mind that if they ever do get back into power in Scotland, its not likely to be a land-slide and could find themselves a minority Government also. Whats going to happen to their policy's? Whatever happens its not going to be good news for the Scottish people and thats the proof in the pudding that Labour do not have the Scottish people's interests at heart.

Maybe Labour need to take their own Advice.....The SNP are in power...."Lets Move on"

  • 60.
  • At 01:38 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • steven dehn wrote:

Gordon Brown seemed to be monumentally scared at the weekend, anyone else pick this up?

Also im struggling to understand how Labour being the party of social justice and then spending at least £50billion on trident while many people are in poverty. How exactly are we the future generation to erradicate poverty, as his claim only the union will deliver, when we are spending billions on a obsolete weapon system?

  • 61.
  • At 03:23 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • S.R wrote:

It did not seem 'well rehearsed' to me - not one bit. He sounded out of touch with Scotland as did some of the 'hingers on' spouting what they had been 'programmed' to do ie without conviction or actually attempting to substantially back their points.

It does not seem to have fully sunk in yet, that the genie is out of the bottle and it is not going to go back in. That Scotland seems well able to get on without reference to big brother in London which is precisely why Wee Windy is on a very sticky wicket indeed

  • 62.
  • At 04:20 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • djmac wrote:


I think you did the entire electorate a huge favour is posing THAT question to The Bendy. She fell for it hook, line and sinker!!

A leader would have passed on it without difficulty. Adapting a headline from elsewhere, I think this now shows her up as 'Bendy in Blunderland'!! And your interview was just a taster for what was to come later.

Where has she been these past few years while T Blair has been beating the last vestige of 'socialism' out of Labour?? Where have the THEBROONS (Gordy and Des) been when they can talk about her being the next First Minister??

Do none of them remember the now infamous pronouncement of George Robertson - 'Devolution will kill nationalism stone dead'!!

It's been posted before, but worth repeating here - the Labour Party of Westminster in Scotland is on the verge of repeating the same self-destruct button that put the Conservatives into the wilderness for a generation in Scotland. The conference in Aviemore (and did Labour really not see the irony in filling the coffers of a nationalist supporting hotel owner??) showed just how out of touch the LPoWiS is.

Ten out of ten opines the 'Bendy in Blunderland'

Minus twenty-two out of ten, says the electorate.

  • 63.
  • At 06:10 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Frederick Swanson wrote:

It is not what one says in this life, but what what one does, that should be the yardstick - so let us consider all the hot air that has been lately spewed out at Aviemore - no wonder the snow is melting!

  • 64.
  • At 08:19 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Leuchars wrote:

Brian, the looks on the faces of the audience at Aviemore when Gordon Brown forecast that Wendy would be Scotlands next First Minister said it all! Stricken doesn't cover it.

  • 65.
  • At 09:13 AM on 01 Apr 2008,
  • Don McKay wrote:

Appears Brown is turning into the person he most admires, Mrs Thatcher!

Completely out of touch with Scotland, only visits to hector and abuse.

Man of social justice (yeah right?), picking on disability claimants, propping up Trident on the Clyde, 92 days detention, ID cards and pay rolling filthy dirty little wars in the Middle East.

Brown is a war criminal like his old boss Blair. Brown will do anything to further his own prestige.

Brown looked completely out of his depth last week, you think I'm going to mention besides the French President, no I talking about his appearance at Aviemore, a complete embarrassment.

Long may he continue in this vein!

  • 66.
  • At 11:20 AM on 01 Apr 2008,
  • John wrote:

I was at the Labour conference in Aviemore (not as a delegate, I hasten to say), and the atmosphere was one of arrogance.

Even the MSPs, who should be eating humble pie in opposition, were simply ranting about the SNP and didn't seem interested in learning anything about why 50 yrs of Labour dominance in Scotland had just blown up in their faces.

The other thing that struck me was the age and profile of those in attendence - predominantly old men. Contrast that with the much younger and more dynamic crowd at an SNP or a Lib Dem gathering.

As someone who grew up supporting Scottish Labour I find myself repulsed by them - they are narrow-minded, arrogant and have a 'divine right' mentality towards Scotland.

And, as Brian points out, some of the stuff Gordon and Wendy were coming out with was (for these supposed intellectuals) just nonsense. Brian gives the example of climate change - of course there's not a Scotland-only solution. But nor is there a Britain-only solution. Ditto for world poverty. And as for terrorism, are we really expected to listen to lectures from the Labour party about tackling terror? Is this not the party that has dragged Scotland into becoming part of one of the world's major terrorist targets? Does he really believe that if Scotland had been independent, and had been allowed to oppose the Iraq war, that a flaming car would be driven into Glasgow airport last summer?

Utter nonsense.

  • 67.
  • At 03:54 PM on 01 Apr 2008,
  • Martin wrote:

Gordon Brown gives reasons for remaining in the UK such as free schooling and NHS - does he assume we aren't aware of our own Scottis tradition of free schooling - and what of his NHS these days it's gone to pot. Telling us that the "perfect 10" herself will put us back in our place at the next Scottish elections makes my blood boil. Who does he think he is? He cares more for his own pocket and power than for Scotland, that's what I think.

How can you be pro-Scotland and pro-UK at the same time when the UK has been destroying Scotland for so long?

After having travelled in various parts of the world it never ceases to amaze me when I come home how most Scottish people think we are unable to cope as a full real country. We are no different to anyone else and no less capable, we have been told for so long how useless we are by successive UK governments who care little for Scotland.

"We waged our struggle, no wae violence
But wae tune and reel and song
No wae marching through the streets
But through the elegant powers of Gaelic " agus saor Alba

  • 68.
  • At 04:44 PM on 01 Apr 2008,
  • Andrew wrote:

As an English guy living in Glasgow.

How much subsdies do you lot want.

Cap in hand to the English yet again.

£360 per Tax Payer living in England, is not enough for you.

Then you have the cheek to ask for more plus money from the allocation to Prisons in England.

I live in Glasgow, work in London, Pay Taxes in Glasgow, Corporation tax, personal tax.

Warning for you.

Salmond is trying to get an independent Scotland with NO VOTE.

It Will happen, England is up in arms over your constant begging bowl.

Scotland will not vote for Independence, England will.

I was struck with the complete conviction that Gordon gave to the union and its values.

Little did I know that those who set it up for imperial purposes - access to colonial markets and a consolidated defence in the British Isles - were actually the forebears of the Labour party.

God save the Queen. She'll certainly need it with this Government.

  • 70.
  • At 03:06 PM on 02 Apr 2008,
  • Colin McKinnon wrote:

The tories became more and more arrogant before their demise in 1997. Scottish Labour is following the same road, only difference, they are running down it.

Living in London, people down here are envious of Scotland, not just down to percieved financial benefit, but down to having a party governing you the people support and dare I say, are proud of.

Contrast that with the Labour and Tory sleaze of Westminster?

Keep it up Scotland, freedom is round the corner!

  • 71.
  • At 03:33 PM on 02 Apr 2008,
  • Colin McKinnon wrote:

The tories became more and more arrogant before their demise in 1997. Scottish Labour is following the same road, only difference, they are running down it.

Living in London, people down here are envious of Scotland, not just down to percieved financial benefit, but down to having a party governing you the people support and dare I say, are proud of.

Contrast that with the Labour and Tory sleaze of Westminster?

Keep it up Scotland, freedom is round the corner!

  • 72.
  • At 04:05 PM on 02 Apr 2008,
  • Pig Man Pig wrote:

10 out of 10?!? Oh dear, oh dear.
By my reckoning all of the comments on this thread are negative about either the Labour Party, Gordon Brown, Wendy Alexander or all of them together!
0 out of 10!

  • 73.
  • At 05:40 AM on 04 Apr 2008,
  • Rick Steel wrote:

I am replying to the comment from Malcom "Brown and Blair created large cracks from small fissures".
As an ex-patriot Scot who has been an immigrant to Canada since 1976
I find the Scottish community here in
Toronto,Canada cannot comprehend devolution at all. Perhaps because we grew up with a dual nationality i.e.British/Scottish we find it hard to understand Scottish nationalism and are frightened of it.To hear the hatred of anything English from Scottish relatives and friends is incomprehensible to us. We cannot understand why things like this have gone so far. Reading the BBC news on the BBC website I see
forebodings ahead in the desire for more devolved powers e.g.Marine protected areas etc.This desire for more devolved powers will continue.
Westminster must realise this by now
and should be formulating a strategy to deal with what will become stronger and stronger demands. Yes small fissures have already become large cracks indeed and in this 21st century the UK will continually have to work hard in the future to keep the U in the K.

  • 74.
  • At 12:16 AM on 12 Apr 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

In Relation to Rick Steel of Canada.I'm sorry to say, but you seem stuck in Scotland of the 70s.

Scotland has awoken to benefit of running its own affairs, as many other countries such as Canada do - this is nothing to be "frightened" of.

For a number of years, its been apparent that this legacy Union lacks any major benefits to Scotland - See the McCrone Report, Trident, Iraq & attracting terrorists to our soil.

I'm only sorry that previous generation of the 70's didn't have the foresight to dissolve the Union in '73. We gained access to a much bigger Union, which guaranteed access to markets south of the border, whilst gaining sole use of our natural resources.

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