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Wings Over Scotland

Captain Darling sounds a retreat

Posted on November 10, 2012 by

It can be a full-time job keeping up with the many inconsistencies and contradictions in the anti-independence campaign. (Labour’s professed hatred for the Tories but willingness to let them govern Scotland when Scottish voters reject them, and the Conservatives’ belief in the UK Union but deep-seated antipathy to the European one, leap out as two of the more obvious examples.) Today’s is a corker, though.

Attentive readers will recall that the “Better Together” camp has spent the five months since its launch constantly warning Scots that independence would be “irrevocable”. Here’s figurehead Alistair Darling being reported in the Telegraph as saying just that at the No campaign’s launch in June of this year (our emphasis, as usual):

“This is not about picking a government for the next five years. If we decide to go down the independence route it is an irrevocable step – you’re talking about a completely different constitutional relationship, maybe for the next 200 or 300 years.”

Pretty unequivocal, then – independence is forever, no going back in our lifetime, or that of our children, or their children, or their children. But wait. Fast-forward to last night and the former Chancellor appears to have had a radical change of heart, in a BBC story headlined “Darling predicts independent Scotland would rejoin UK”:

“Speaking as he delivered this year’s John P Mackintosh Memorial Lecture in Prestonpans, East Lothian, on Friday evening, [Darling] said the ‘most obvious problem’ with a common currency was that ‘sooner or later it takes you to economic and then political union. So Scotland would leave the UK only to end up in the same place as it began, with all the trauma that would entail.'”

Of course, if you’re a Wings Over Scotland reader you already knew the “irrevocable” line was a load of rubbish that could only be true if the core claim – and indeed, the very name – of “Better Together” was a cynical lie. But it’s nice to see Mr Darling admit it this early in the day. Which strident assertion, we wonder, will he recant next?

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    38 to “Captain Darling sounds a retreat”

    1. Juteman says:

      I think this is wonderful news for the YES campaign. Now the undecideds can vote YES, safe in the knowledge that they can rejoin the UK at a later date if it doesn’t work out. Is Darling a SNP plant? 🙂

    2. YesYesYes says:

      Perhaps this latest U-turn is what Better Together originally meant when they referred to Scotland having the “best of both worlds”? We all vote Yes in 2014, Scotland becomes independent then if, after a few decades, it doesn’t work out, we’ll still be at the front of the queue of countries waiting to re-join the UK. Correction: we’ll BE the whole queue!   

    3. Ray says:

      That speech ends with Darling saying what you’ve pointed out, yet near the beginning he maintains that there’s no going back. In the same speech! I can’t believe the head of the official pro-union campaign put out a text which could so easily be challenged in most areas. As someone still officially on the fence it really saddened me, I expected a lot more from this.

      It didn’t help last night that I got banned from their official Facebook page for simply having a decent debate with a couple of folk on the unionist side. Everything was fine, a light back and forth, no abuse or swear words or dreaded capital letters, yet I was vanished. In the same threads a poster was warned for using a Nazi comparison yet is still allowed to post. I guess I was being to rational with my critique of Darling’s speech.

      They’re making this decision a lot easier for me!

    4. mato21 says:

      I think at some point he will have to retract his “relatives will be foreigners” nonsense He has been mocked on every forum I have read regarding this one
      How someone who obviously thinks he is so clever can spout such rubbish is beyond me Just goes to show the rest of us do not think  he is as  clever as he thinks he is, in fact, many of us think he is a buffoon (first class)

    5. Domhnall dods says:

      Ray, don’t worry, unless you’re rabidly espousing the no camp arguments they ban you. I went through the same about 6 months back. I was undecided or possibly favouring devo max, but that’s no longer an option and the no camp are more keen to ban people than persuade them. It’s an odd way to campaign 

    6. Doug Daniel says:

      I was at the Yes Aberdeen launch today, and a very important bit of information was given to us by the head of Yes Scotland marketing. Just take this in and remember it the next time someone accuses indy campaigners of being scared of debate. 

      Alistair Darling the self-proclaimed head of BetterTogether – REFUSES to debate with the head of Scotland, Blair Jenkins. The Yes campaign are very keen for this to happen, but Darling has actually pulled out of TWO occasions where he could have made it happen.

      We all know the reason, of course. The SNP bashing doesn’t work when you’re debating with someone who isn’t even an SNP member, never mind elected for them.

      I would recommend folk find out their local Yes Wherever meeting and go along. There’s some useful info. For all the criticism Yes Scotland have received in some quarters, it’s clear they have a very well-defined plan, whereas it sounds like the BetterTogether one is just nuts. In particular, BT are being driven round the bend by YesScotland’s refusal to put politicians forward to represent them – because it’s ALL BetterTogether can do. 

    7. panda paws says:

      The East Renfrewshire inaugural Yes meeting is being held in St Ninian’s High School, Eastwood on 14th November at 7pm.

    8. muttley79 says:

      A geniune, effective media would be holding to account Captain Darling, the mighty No leader, on his blatant contradictions.  The question arises, if so many states have become independent, and not returned to their former rule, why would Scotland be uniquely different?  On one hand, they say Scotland could survive as an independent state, and on the other they say that we would return to political union, with the strong implication that they believe independence would be an economic disaster (given they always bring up Darien then is probably no wonder they believe this).  At the same time, they say that independence would be permament and now they are saying it would be temporary.  Add in the legend of the positive case for the union, which seems to have joined the Holy Grail, the cities of gold etc, and you have a seriously irrational, confused campaign.  Finally, when the fuck are they going to admit that they are protecting their privileged lifestyles and are against change? 

    9. YesYesYes says:

      @Doug Daniel,
      “the Better Together one [plan] is just nuts”.
      It’s interesting isn’t it? It’s no accident that The Better Together ‘plan’ seems to be following the same disastrous course of successive Labour and Tory British governments’ economic, political and constitutional mismanagement over the last four decades. That is, short-term crisis management, ad hocery, incrementalism, make-do-and-mend and, all the time, being undermined by the inadequacies of its response to events. The main problem with Better Together is, in fact, an old philosophical problem, the problem of ‘question begging’:
      Hope the bloody link works this time. If not, it’s worth looking up on Google 

    10. muttley79 says:

      @Doug Daniel,  Yes, that is what Arbroath 1320 has been saying about Blair Jenkins wanting, and being refused, a debate with Darling. 

    11. Juteman says:

      I think the main problem the NO camp have is a simple lack of ability. For decades, they didn’t need to be good public speakers or debaters. As long as they wore that rosette, they got elected. Faced with a genuine campaign, full of vigorous and intelligent opponents, they are flumoxed. The cozy lifestyle they were used to is no help in this situation.

    12. YesYesYes says:

      You’re surely on to something with this. What’s interesting here also is that, for decades now, ‘Scottish’ Labour has made a lot of political capital in Scottish politics out of demonising the Tories and deceiving us into believing that ‘Scottish’ Labour is ‘radically’ different from the Tories. But after 13 years of New Labour, this bounteous political capital has dried up for ‘Scottish’ Labour, no-one buys it anymore. But that hasn’t stopped ‘Scottish’ Labour continuing with its lies and deception – remember those apocalyptic words in ‘Scottish’ Labour’s manifesto for 2011: ‘Now that the Tories are back’?
      With the Better Together campaign, though, ‘Scottish’ Labour now has to try to persuade us that they didn’t really mean to demonise the Tories, they’re not that bad really. That surely is the dominant logic of the Better Together campaign.
      Better Together doesn’t mean, as ‘Scottish’ Labour would like us to believe, that we’re Better Together when Labour is in power at Westminster – though does anyone in Scotland today, outside Labour, really believe even that? It means, and must mean that we’re Better Together with Tory governments at Westminster. And if that means that we’re Better Together with Westminster Tory governments that Scotland has rejected in every single British general election since 1959 then, as far as ‘Scottish’ Labour is concerned, that’s just our tough luck, that’s the way ‘British’ democracy works in Scotland.
      It makes ‘Scottish’ Labour the manic schizophrenic of Scottish politics. On the one hand, they won’t be able to resist the need to demonise the Tories –  that political capital in Scotland is just too appetising to resist. On the other hand, they have to persuade us that we’re really ‘Better Together’ with Tory governments at Westminster. So this manic schizophrenic has to somehow balance on this political tightrope with no safety net below it when, inevitably, it falls.    

    13. Juteman says:

      Schizophrenic is exactly the word to describe Labour in Scotland. So is the word ‘guilt’.
       In the wee hours of the night, these rogues know they are acting against their countrys best interests. An ermine robe might suffice as an end result, but is the mental torture worth it?
      No wonder some of them seem bonkers!

    14. jake says:

      Actually, the most obvious problem with a common currency is that IF and WHEN the economies of the politically separate states diverge , (only then not “sooner or later” as Mr Darling suggests) it takes you to a place where a decision has to be made to either integrate economically and politically OR to de-couple the currency. De-coupling the currency is not however an all or nothing event; it still remains an option for the de-coupled currency to move from a position of rigidly fixed exchange rates to shadowing within bands ( much as Canada does with the USA) In matters of currency it’s actually and ultimately the “Independence Yes” option that provides the best of both worlds.

    15. Aplinal says:


      Re: currency.  Quite so, and only an option with Independence.  A Sterling zone in the interim   gives a new Scottish government time (5 – 10 years probably) to establish the institutions necessary for a Scottish currency, and to manage a change in the economic levers to improve the overall Scottish economy.  Whether Scotland is on or out the EU is of limited concern to me right now, and whether we eventually join the Euro will be in OUR hands, as it is in Sweden’s.  Nothing less than Independence will do.

      Hail Alba 

    16. YesYesYes says:

      Hear hear! In fact, doesn’t the recent experience of sterling provide an analogy here, albeit a less exact one? After 1986, Nigel Lawson decided to shadow the Deutsch Mark at an over-valued sterling exchange rate, necessitating, among other things, high interest rates which produced, for the umpteenth time since the mid-1960s, another government-induced recession or British government policy exacerbating an existing recession.
      This precipitated, after Mrs Thatcher’s persistent and damaging opposition to the policy, sterling entering the ERM. This culminated in the disastrous events of ‘Black Wednesday’ in September 1992 when sterling was ejected from the ERM after the UK Treasury lost £4 billion of tax-payers money in the fruitless attempt to support sterling. The whole exercise cost the UK Treasury £28 billion (a post-war record) of which £4 billion was lost, the speculator George Soros pocketed £1 billion of the easiest money he’d ever ‘earned’.
      It’s still astonishing that there seem to be so many people in Scotland who believe that the British are the best people to manage Scotland’s economy, when there is so much historical evidence, even from the last 40 years, to demonstrate that this is clearly not the case.  

    17. scottish_skier says:

      @Yes,Yes, Yes

      It’s still astonishing that there seem to be so many people in Scotland who believe that the British are the best people to manage Scotland’s economy 

      Thankfully, these are in minority and a strong majority wish Scotland’s economy to be run from Holyrood. Just foreign affairs and defence that are sticking points it seems, for now at least.

    18. dadsarmy says:

      Keeping the pound is perhaps now the most controversial part of the SNP policy for an Independent Scotland. and yet if properly portrayed and planned it’s also one of the strongest. I can’t remember where (maybe NNS?) but I saw a very good article on this.

      For me the SNP should emphasise that in the form they propose it’s very much an immediate, transitional policy – stage 1. Stage 2 would be provisional, and would be to have our own pound but tied to the rUK pound. Stage 3 would then be, as the international community gained confidence in our pound, to float it against international currencies, including the rUK pound.

      I think stage 1 should be short, and move to stage 2 as soon as possible, and to be honest, we should move to stage 3 as soon as possible as well. I don’t think it will be long before it’s proven that our economy can support our own currency. But before this there need to be safeguards against currency speculation.

      As this sort of thing is party policy, I think the SNP should quickly set up and explain their road map for our currency, as once the EU nonsense has disappeared, the Unionists will still be able to slag around the currency policy and score (own goals) points.

      I do agree though with keeping the pound at least transitionally.

      Edit: just to add that the SG should make sure even small traders in Scotland have access to very cheap euro exchange, at or near interbank rates.

    19. Patrick Byrne says:

      Dear Mr Darling,
      Could you please explain to me why Luxembourg and Belgium have never contemplated forming a single State despite sharing the same currency for the better part of the 20th century?
      It doesn’t exactly fit in with your ‘obvious’ general theory, does it?
      I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter, as do the proud and independent peoples of Luxembourg and Belgium, I’m sure.
      Very best regards.
      Patrick Byrne

    20. Bill C says:


      Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “the problem here is that you are preaching to the converted. This type of analysis has to get out to the MSM and/or to a wider (undecided?)”
      I’m working on something

      Rev I think that this is THE issue of the next two years. If we can get articles written by yourself, Scott, other pro independence writers and the McCrone Report out to the general public in Scotland, I believe that we can win a YES vote. I hope most sincerely that whatever you are working on is successful as we need as much truth out there as possible.

    21. pa_broon says:

      I’m sure Darling sounding like some untrusting unconfident parent condescendingly telling his child if he or she leaves they’d only come running back will go down well with the Scottish people.

      Because after all, you know the British Establishment is uniquely qualified to run the affairs of state to a high standard.

      Oh, hold on…

    22. G H Graham says:

      Ireland is NOT a Foreign Country.

      Ireland Act 1949 CHAPTER 41 12 13 and 14 Geo 6
      2 Republic of Ireland not a foreign country.
      (1)  It is hereby declared that, notwithstanding that the Republic of Ireland is not part of His Majesty’s dominions, the Republic of Ireland is not a foreign country for the purposes of any law in force in any part of the United Kingdom or in any colony, protectorate or United Kingdom trust territory, whether by virtue of a rule of law or of an Act of Parliament or any other enactment or instrument whatsoever, whether passed or made before or after the passing of this Act, and references in any Act of Parliament, other enactment or instrument whatsoever, whether passed or made before or after the passing of this Act, to foreigners, aliens, foreign countries, and foreign or foreign-built ships or aircraft shall be construed accordingly.


    23. douglas clark says:

      I am intrigued about what you are working on. If I can be of even minimal assistance, please let me know.

    24. Jeannie says:

      @Rev Stu
      If it’s a computer game, could you do it before Christmas so I’ve got something for the boys’ stockings?

    25. douglas clark says:

      G H Graham,
      I read that somewhere else, It makes all of the Ian Davidson faction look a bit, err, stupid, does it not?

    26. Bill C says:

      Rev, I would echo the sentiments of Douglas Clark.

      Also Entwistle resigns as Director General of the BBC over Newsnight child abuse scandal.  Perhaps now is the time to raise the issue of BBC coverage of the referendum.  An impartial national broadcaster is surely essential for any country claiming to be a democracy?

    27. YesYesYes says:

      @douglas clark,
      This is true. My maternal grandfather and one of my uncles was Irish. The idea that they were somehow ‘foreign’ to me, because they were born in a country that was formerly part of the UK and then won its independence from the UK, is so patently absurd that only such desperate idiots like Ian Davidson, Alistair Darling and Johann Lamont would suggest it.
      But this also betrays the ‘Scottish’ Labour lies about their alleged ‘internationalism’. The fact that they consider anyone who isn’t governed by Westminster governments as ‘foreign’, who are not one of ‘us’, exposes them for the petty, parochial, narrow-minded British nationalists that they really are. Little wonder then, that ‘Scottish’ Labour at Westminster cosies up to the swivel-eyed, right-wing Eurosceptics in the Tory party and has much more in common with them than it does with socialists and social democrats in Scotland.

    28. Silverytay says:

      I always thought that labour were meant to be internationalists not nationalists .
      The way darling and the bitter together crew are behaving with their foreigner scare stories you would almost think that they were the b.n.p .
      Just in case darling checks in on W.O.S to see what the enemy are saying about him I will give him a list of my international relatives . 
      Most are English with the rest being a mixture of Vietnamese , Chinese , Polish , Australian , Canadian and South African ,
      Alistair I have news for you ! when Scotland retakes her rightful place amongst the other independent countries of the world they will still be my relatives and I will still love them .
      Alistair I would like to give you some free advice ! If you are going to use lies and scare stories against Scotland ! make them believable . 

    29. Bill C says:

      Re. Darling and his foreigners scare story. Being a Nasty Nat, a rabid seperatist, a  woad painted Braveheart! You know the sort? Thought I had better check my own family history. Tried to go back a couple of centuries as required under Himmler’s SS rules, but found I was gubbed. Turns out, me mammie’s dad was Irish, his wife, that’s me granny, was half Irish, half Scottish (so that’s kinda ok!). Looked at the old man’s stock. His mither was Scottish (brilliant) a quine and all that. His pops? Not so sure, in fact if truth be told, he could have been Martian! His name, never mind his nationality, was not on the old man’s birth certificate, if you catch my drift.  So that’s that. A wee bit Irish, a bigger bit Scottish and God knows the rest. Think I’ll stick wae Alistair and the Brits, ye just canne get the lineage nowadays! 

    30. AndrewfraeGovan says:

      Music is the universal language! Darling’s narrow little mind obviously has no understanding of such wonders.

    31. Arbroath 1320 says:

      Here’s a photo from Darling’s latest escapade from Lamont’s bolt holes.
      Oh by the way these silent protesters have been accused by the Bitter camp as Yes campaign thugs! Thugs, I ask you. the folks were just standing quiet as mice in front of Darling during his speech. Well if these people are thugs I really do wonder how the Bitter camp would describe these enlightened individuals.

    32. Roll_On_2014 says:

       “ Music is the universal language! “
      Aye Andrew, indeed it is.

    33. Roll_On_2014 says:

      OT – Breaking News – You could not make this up… even if you really tried.

      Benefits reform under threat after IT glitch:

      “ National roll-out of flagship policy delayed by at least a year as costs soar and key personnel quit “
      “ The Government’s flagship reform of Britain’s welfare system, which is being piloted by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, has been placed on a Treasury list of projects in crisis, The Independent on Sunday has learned. “

      The UK appears to have been lead by donkeys for the last few decades…. Or longer

      Aye ‘Better together’ indeed.

    34. deewal says:

      I thought the giant ATOS IT had the contract for the DWP’s racial purity and euthenasia program ?
      (ATOS who are also the IT Partner’s of the BBC whose Bias has been the source of much howling on these boards.)
      They have over £3 billion of Government funding now. They are doing such a good job of it that the Scottish Government have awarded them with Contract for the Commonwealth Games. This seems to many disabled people and unemployed who are suffering terribly from the Pogrom here in the North as sign of tacit approval by the SNP for the inhumane treatment at the hands of this despicable outfit.
      The disabled and unemployed are only going to grow in number and now unfortunately appear to believe that a YES vote is a vote for the SNP as they see no difference between Tory Government or Scottish Government.
      In Scotland and Northern England, Atos plan to use 500 physiotherapist s, 200 nurses, 40 occupational therapists and 10 (yes 10)doctors. This Computer “test” is designed with the sole intention of taking people off Benefits which they are entitled to. It will ensure that by 2014 there will be a large amount of people who are unable to Vote as they will have no fixed abode or they will be dead.
      ATOS and “Selections” have no place in a civilised society.
      You like photo’s ?×436.jpg

    35. DG says:

      As I said previously though, there is an important difference.

      For independence, Scotland has to vote yes.

      For “union”, Scotland AND everyone in the union has to vote yes. 

      Clearly not impossible of course, and if there’s such clear benefits to the union I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem but still, worth consideration. 

    36. Tamson says:

      Darling is someone whom J.M.Barrie would have considered a very impressive sight.
      The easy ride he gets from the media, particularly in Scotland, is breathtaking. People should take every chance to remind the uninformed of his serial mortgage flip-flopping, or of how he was (a largely anonymous) part of the team who dithered over Northern Rock back in 2007.
      His lack of ability is betrayed enough by his feartiness in confronting Jenkins in debate.

    37. John Lyons says:

      Darling also says

      “People in Scotland are rightly concerned about the plight of the world’s poorest people.  We’re one of the biggest donors of aid to the World Bank with huge influence.  Why give that up?”

      Maybe because we donate millions every (Or most) year and a large chunk of it goes to China, the country with the fastest growing economy in the world!!!

      And actually didn’t we withold our donation in 2006? I suppose Mr Darling might not have known about that as he wasn’t Chancellor until the following year….

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