2007 - 2021

Indy needs an England strategy

The fresh crab must have been good. Shortly after his last visit, the prime minister announced he was coming back to Scotland for more, this time for a camping holiday.

In between, the chancellor made a day trip to Bute. After years of ignoring us, the Tories suddenly can’t get enough of us Scots.

Boris Johnson has form when making seemingly random visits. Before the Westminster election last year, he dropped in on a number of northern English towns, sometimes allowing himself to be heckled on the streets. It was said that his visits were followed up by sophisticated social media targeting into those areas. Many of these ‘Red Wall’ Labour areas shortly thereafter fell to the Tories.

As reported by George Kerevan in The National a few weeks ago, two of the key players of the Tory ‘Meme Machine’ social media operation, Sean Topham and Ben Guerin, have now been drafted to work on Scotland.

Peter Geoghegan and journalists at The Guardian and Open Democracy have since revealed that the UK government gave the duo a £3 million contract for 6-months of coronavirus PR. Now, you might think that UK govt comms on Covid-19 has been a murderous muddle, but sometimes you’re only as good as the decisions taken from above.

Having worked in the Middle East, I’ve heard of lucrative PR contracts in my time. I’ve never come across anything in the realm of £500,000 per month. What it means for their work with the Tories on Scotland remains to be seen. I would urge readers to be vigilant regarding what is appearing on their socials.

Don’t be taken in by appearances of buffoonery. The Tories are determined not to let Scotland go. We were told that the Queen purred like a cat when she was told Scotland voted no in 2014, and the PM does not want royalty barking at him instead.

The recent daytrips take me back to 2014. English friends of mine suddenly became vocal about their love of Scotland. Some of them finally made the trip they always promised and came up to chap doors in another nation’s vote. Remember the schmaltzy advert featuring Grant from Eastenders about being ‘best friends’. If this was a Friends episode, it would be the one where Joey controls all the money and makes all the big decisions.

Quite a force of English society took part in our referendum – media outlets, oil companies, all the Westminster leaders, spy chiefs, banks, and even supermarkets made interventions.

This time, we shouldn’t wait for all this to come onto us. It would be a mistake to locate the only field of battle inside Scotland. After all, colonies often left London rule because the mood of the chattering classes in London changed.

So let’s get Johnson on the backfoot. We know the SNP message is popular amongst the English public. Nicola Sturgeon’s television performances have won rave reviews and even calls for the SNP to stand for elections in England.

The SNP worldview has gone down well with English liberals in the past, but now, in a post-Brexit, post-Covid world, they will know that they can’t plausibly ask the Scots to hang around in a union of permanent omnishambles. Even BBC coverage which so many Scots objected to in 2014 could be framed very differently by BBC staffers next time around.

But only if we make the case. Only if we keep our purpose at the centre of everything we say and do. We want to improve the wellbeing of our people, play a positive role in the world, and save the planet we live on. All in stark contrast to the work of the Westminster government.

All of us have got a role in this. We’ve got people we want to convince to support independence – friends, family, co-workers and neighbours. Most of us also know folk in England. Talk to them and engage them with your hopes and dreams for the future of your nation.

We should also countenance major action in London if standoff on a referendum continues, and public health allows. Johnson is more comfortable with us marching around Scottish towns than if we turned up in large numbers on his doorstep. Enough of us would make this journey. In 2002, for a protest on the Iraq War, we took 50 coaches from Glasgow to London.

There will be tens of thousands ready to camp outside Downing Street if the political point of decision reaches the fever pitch we are expecting in the coming year. It’ll be the talk of London. And if we do it right, thousands of decent people in England will march with us. What a way to set the tone for our future relationship. Best friends, hand in hand, as equals.

Let’s get Boris Johnson on the backfoot.



Comments (10)

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  1. Ian McCubbin says:

    This is a good article bu I worry about taking demonstrations on to the streets of London.
    As a former NASUWT lay official I was involved in several marches there. We had high level police liason and good marshalling by very well trained officials including myself.
    This allowed us to see of several groups of far right potentially about to cause major disruption to the marches.
    The Yes movement has a lot to learn about marshalling and police liason before it can even begin to plan a London event.
    The 1st of is an approach to the Metropolitan Police on the feasibility of a march.
    We need them on our side.

  2. Squigglypen says:

    ‘As equals’……don’t kid yourself….’decent’ English folk who care only for their green and pleasant land..’and did those feet’……that would be Jesus visiting the land who won the lottery…English and whatever else crap they think..
    ….. we are still a colony full of savages…..and a holiday place tae go …..send in the Scottish midges and get that fat git out of our country for starters..
    Hands up politely…please sir can we go….. and then lets go on a march and wave tae a’ the nice Sassenachs…..( we could wear tartan if the Sassenachs let us.)…. Best friends?…..are you for real?
    Thank god for Nicola…..cos all the men warriors are deid.

  3. Dougie Harrison says:

    I’m afraid the author only displays his inexperience in this. 50 coaches to London comes at most to a wee bit over 2,500 people on a demonstration. Racists regularly get that many onto the streets of the Great Wen… but to great media effect, because they are ‘protecting statues’.

    Over the decades I have organised many attempts to make an impression in England on behalf of a Scottish cause. By far the most successful involved getting one coachload of workers from the whisky industry to leafy Surrey. Why? Because the Japanese Suntory Whisky company were sponsoring the World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth. (That’s a wee golf course, and this was about 1980).

    We were protesting about the willingness of some companies in the Scotch Whisky industry, to sell malt whisky in bulk to Japanese distillers. Interestingly, only non-Scots multinationals did this, at a time when the majority of malt distilleries were still in the ownership of at least nominally Scots-owned companies.

    We succeeded over a few years in effectively halting bulk malt exports. It’s amazing what one busload of kilted whisky industry workers can do when they perform for the US TV cameras focussed on golf. We made a bigger impact on the security of more Scots jobs with forty demonstrators, than thousands did for other causes.

  4. Charles L. Gallagher says:

    Camping, eh. Let’s see how long he lasts when ten million savages attack him – I am of course talking about our ‘Legendary Army’ of midgees – LOL.

  5. Julian says:

    It wouldn’t just be 2500 though. There would be lots of Scots based in London and around who would join in. I bet plenty of other EU nationals would too, especially those who support, say, Catalan independence. Plus various other British sympathisers.

    The far right only manages a few hundred supporters at best, and often only a drunken handful, so that should not be a factor.

  6. Graeme McCormick says:

    I see no benefit in demonstrating in England much as I like the English and love so much of English culture.

    Why would they cooperate with us to leave when so many like us ?

    The key to our success is one-to-one Respectful discussion with Scottish voters . Don’t argue, just plant the seeds.

  7. Karen Rhodes says:

    I live in Cumbria and would love to have a SNP candidate. We already have a combination of Cumbria, North East and Scottish Borders news. Why not have an SNP MP too.


    When it gets down to the bread and butter issues we’ll see what happens then.. When people become concerned about what money their wages salaries pensions and benefits will be paid in and how they will pay their bills they’ll think twice about the romanticism and fantasy and emotion of Scottish independence then

  9. Bob Young says:

    Well I’m sorry, but what good would targetting England do since it doesn’t get a vote.. You should be concentrating more on those who do have one and who will influence the success of any campaign. The only benefit you might get would be to convince the RUK public to support the idea of Scottish independence to such an extent that Westminster would be “forced” to issue a Section 30 Order which is after all the first step on the way. Since there is a huge emphasis amongst the nationalists about how much finance Scotland pours into Treasury coffers and how “broke” RUK would be without Scotland.. do you honestly think the RUK are going to cut off the hand that feeds them.. Hardly likely, so I think you’re barking up the wrong tree there. It’s always been the case that a Section 30 Order would come if and when the majority of Scottish people indicate they want one; therefore the onus is on the nationalists to win over the majority of the popular in Scotland, which of course would also be needed for success in the referendum. So the reality is the snp need the Scottish electorate behind them..and until they get that, not only will they not get a referendum much less win one if they did. Fighting the RUK is wasted effort, the nationalists have enough problems convincing the Scottish electorate to support them.

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