Is Labour for Indy nothing more than a banner?

Is Labour for Indy nothing more than a banner?

by Brian Monteith
article from Friday 2, August, 2013

NOW AND AGAIN a story surfaces that seems so incredible that you have to read it twice to believe anyone would be so stupid. Even more banal and incomprehensible is when people step forward to try and find justification for the original daftness. They only look twice as silly.

Such an event happened this week on ThinkScotland when Euan McColm wrote about how a campaign group called Labour for Independence was masquerading as something it is not – a body of any relevance or substance to the Labour Party in Scotland.

The appearance of Euan’s article broke all of our readership records. It was picked up by Guido Fawkes, tweeted incessantly, made the daily papers the next morning and was the subject of discussion by Newsnight Scotland the following evening.

I think it’s fair to say that Labour for Independence did not come out of the episode very well. Indeed it’s an understatement; for it not only showed the lengths some nationalists will go to to try and deceive the public into believing independence will mean change without any real change – it also provoked contributions from others that they had witnessed similar occurrences on their own patch.

Euan, being a professional journalist with his own column in Scotland on Sunday has got other work to do this weekend so, as I thought it important that some of the attacks and criticism of Euan’s article be responded to I am taking up the cause on his behalf.

One of the most absurd arguments being made is to compare Labour for Independence with Conservative Friends of the Union and say that because both campaign groups allow people who are not members of the respective parties to join them then they are equally valid, equally respectable. Wrong. There’s a difference and it’s very big.

Conservative Friends of the Union is a group that actually supports Conservative policy. Labour for Independence stands for the opposite of Labour Party policy, it is the antithesis of what Labour is about – being a member of it suggests at best a confusion or weakness in the faculty for rational deduction – or worse, a Machiavellian entryism dedicated to changing the party beyond recognition.

Maybe those behind Labour for Independence could tell me which condition it is.

Labour for Independence is akin to “Nationalists for the Bedroom Tax” or “Tories for Clause IV” – it just does not make sense. 

It has also been argued that because some polls show there are as many as one in five Labour voters sympathetic to independence it is credible to create an organisation called Labour for Independence.

Wrong. Such a branding with publicity using Labour’s colours and type styles suggests it is official when it is not. If the group wished to represent Labour sympathisers or voters, then it should say that on the tin. “Labour sympathisers / Labour People / Labour voters – for Independence” would all have been accurate, but do not have the same official ring to it.

Of course, even using a name such as “Labour People for Independence” would still preclude SNP members standing in front of such a banner – for that would be a lie. Surely no self-respecting SNP member, voter or Councillor would stand in front of a Labour banner and be happy with the caption “Labour voters for Independence” – or would they?

The more official sounding title suggests it was intentionally chosen for its vagueness. Labour what, Labour who?

It has been said that the composite photo that Euan McColm’s article led with – showing a group of activists in front of a banner – and then linking many of them to two other photos where their true SNP sympathies are displayed – took the picture out of context. The argument goes that when the original photo was used it had captions naming the people involved; it was merely a group of Yes Campaigners getting behind a banner that appeared in front of a Yes Campaign stall. They were being mutually supportive.

Unfortunately that’s putting a convenient gloss on what was presented.

The caption did not state that any of those present in the photograph were SNP activists – so active that one is a SNP Leader of East Ayrshire Council. Any reader who did not know these people personally (and the authors would be hoping that that would be the vast majority of readers) would be ignorant of the facts.

There is a large leap from presenting Yes Campaigners supporting Labour for Independence – as if they might be Labour sympathisers or members – to presenting a photo captioned with the respective SNP affiliations (and offices) of the people involved.

Frankly, the absence of the real credentials is a sleight of hand that appears as an intentional deceit.

Here’s an idea; why not change the captions on the original photo appearing with “Labour for Independence” and “Yes East Ayrshire” to actually state “(SNP)” where that person named is a member of the SNP? Now that would be honest, that would give true context.

The reaction to McColm’s story revealed a further photograph of the Labour for Independence banner that appeared across the web, in the Daily Record and on BBC Newsnight, this time held up by three SNP councillors and apparently a Green - not a single Labour person in the shot (pictured above).

One is tempted to think that Labour for Independence is not so much “One man and his dog” as “A few men and a banner”.

There is still more than a year of the referendum campaign to run and already the nationalist campaign has descended into underhand, bullying and intimidatory tactics – none of which are condemned by the First Minister.

Radical independence organised the picketing of Nigel Farage that resulted in the denial of free speech, and now we have what, at the moment, is nothing other than a front organisation being promoted by the Labour Party’s political rivals with the obvious result that voters will become confused or hold doubts about Labour’s position.

There is still time for the Yes Campaign to clean up its act but it had better start soon.

Similarly, if Better Together were to behave in such a fashion this website would not baulk at exposing such anti-democratic practices. Indeed this site has often carried articles by our contributors bemoaning various strategic and tactical aspects of the Better Together campaign – and I rather suspect that will continue in the months ahead. It is a well known fact evidenced by polling that there are many SNP voters that support staying in the United Kingdom – but we would advise Better Together against setting up a "Nationalists for the Union" campaign group.

Labour for Independence does not have any significant level of support amongst that party, it trades on a name that suggest it is official when it is not and members of other parties are hiding their true loyalties in an effort to make it appear bigger than it is. In total, Labour for Independence is a fraud and should be condemned as such.

Picture: Courtesy of the Daily Record


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