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Wings Over Scotland

Positive-Case-For-The-Union Watch

Posted on November 10, 2011 by

(For the details of individual entries, see here.)

As alert followers of Scottish politics will know, the Unionist parties (Scottish Labour in particular) are deeply convinced of the need to put to the people of Scotland the “positive case for the Union”, in order to secure victory for the No campaign in the forthcoming independence referendum. Oddly, while the parties and their friendly pundits are apparently unanimous on the need for this case to be put urgently following the SNP’s majority victory in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, it’s remained stubbornly conspicuous by its absence, even if you search back for over 30 years.

Wings Over Scotland is keeping its eyes peeled, though, and you can be sure that if and when this mythical beast ever does rise from the murky waters of the political Loch Ness it must be lurking in, we’ll be there to capture it for posterity. From today we’ll be logging possible sightings, and recording them below, like this:

It’s our job to drown out [Alex Salmond’s] separatist rhetoric with a positive case for keeping the Union intact.
(Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Conservative Party chairman, March 2012)

There is a desperate need to say why Scotland is better, stronger and more united as part of the UK. Make the case. Get the pro-Scotland in the UK side on the pitch and let battle commence.
(Tavish Scott, former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, February 2012)

We have to make a positive case for the union.
(Unnamed “Scottish Tory spokesman” in the Telegraph, February 2012)

We need to hear detailed reasons and hard facts about why Scotland is better off as part of the UK — not slogans and scaremongering.
(The Sun editorial, January 2012)

In a speech in Glasgow later today, Ed Miliband will seek to go beyond the process-driven debate over independence for Scotland, seeking to make a positive case for Scotland to remain within the Union.
(Left Foot Forward, January 2012)

Darling – whose reputation was enhanced after he warned of the looming global economic meltdown in defiance of then PM Gordon Brown – said he was determined to make a positive case for Scotland remaining in the UK.
(Sunday Mail interview with former Chancellor of the Exchequer, January 2012)

Questions abound. How will the campaign be structured? Who will lead it? And can it develop a positive case for the United Kingdom?
(David Torrance, commentator and author, January 2012)

I have a positive vision for Scotland.
(Johann Lamont, Scottish Labour leader, January 2012)

Everyone wants to see positive arguments for the Union, and we will have these in spades.
(Murdo Fraser, Conservative MSP, January 2012)

I am not going to run a campaign that says Scotland cannot survive on its own. I am going to run a campaign — and others will run a campaign — about the advantages of being together. Let’s have a positive conversation, because I think the Union is a very positive thing.
(David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, January 2012)

There is a positive case for the Union.
(Gerry Hassan, Scottish political commentator, January 2012)

We are likely to see the likes of Labour’s Alistair Darling, the Liberal Democrats’ Charles Kennedy and the Tories’ Annabel Goldie playing leading roles in putting a positive case for the Union.
(Leader in The Scotsman, January 2012)

My ten tartan rules for success: 1. Make the positive case for the Union.
Peter Duncan, former Conservative MP for Galloway, January 2012

The Unionist case needs a Scottish and non-party political voice that will sell a positive narrative.”
(Lee Reynolds, Director of Strategy, Democratic Unionist Party, January 2012)

It is absolutely essential that the pro-Union forces articulate a convincing and positive case for the continuation of the Union in the 21st Century. Those of us who wish to see Scotland and its people remain as fellow citizens in a United Kingdom must both articulate the benefits which the Union has brought to Scotland and provide a positive vision for the future continuation of the Union.”
(Tom Elliott, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, January 2012)

Add these deeply serious warnings [about debt, banks, subsidy etc] to the positive case for maintaining a union which has served the English and Scottish people well for 300 years and Mr Cameron has an irresistible argument.
(Daily Mail editorial leader, January 2012)

Does the Prime Minister agree with me that we must make the case for the Union – not simply against separatism, but the positive case about the shared benefits to us all of Scotland’s part in the United Kingdom?
(Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, January 2012)

Politicians are much given to talking – as Mr Cameron did yesterday – about ‘a positive case for the Union’ and commentators (I’m one of them) have been asking for the same thing for some time.
(Andrew McKie, conservative commentator, January 2012) [paywall link]

Politics is about emotion as well as simple accountancy. So as well as making the economic case for staying in the United Kingdom, we also need to tell a better, more positive story for Scotland’s future to compete with the SNP’s narrative of nationalism.”
(Douglas Alexander, Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary, January 2012)

As we get closer to the referendum, people will realise that staying within the Union has substantial benefits for Scotland.(benefits not specified)
(James Kelly, Labour MSP, December 2011) (at 4m 20s)

We’ve got a distinctive argument to make on the power of Scotland inside the United Kingdom.
(Johann Lamont, Labour leadership contender, December 2011) (at 23m 08s)

The starting point is that we are equal nations choosing to come together and that equality means we in Scotland can make demands in a claim of right for the powers and responsibilities that we want. Beyond that however we need to describe the positive advantages of being part of a new United Kingdom.
(Malcolm Chisholm, Labour MSP, November 2011)

[the proponent for independence] deserved to win, because he did the thing which usually wins a debate: he asked the question which mattered, and didn’t get a satisfactory response. And the question was this: what is the positive case for the Union?
(Andrew McKie, conservative political commentator, November 2011)

The bigger challenge with Alex Salmond, in my view, is […] about addressing the political strategy he has been successful around. It is about making a positive case of Scotland in the UK and I can make that case.
(Johann Lamont, then-prospective Scottish Labour leader, November 2011)

Scottish Labour needs to develop its vision of a devolved, confident Scotland and make its case for a vote against independence with a positive alternative.
(Mike Robb, Labour Hame, November 2011)

We really need someone who can articulate a positive vision for Scotland, and sell it to the people of Scotland.
(John Ruddy, Labour Hame, November 2011)

The Scottish Conservatives have a huge responsibility, to Scotland and the United Kingdom, to make the positive case for the Union
(Ruth Davidson, Scottish Conservative leader, October 2011)

We will need to make that very positive argument in the next few years; the very human, very individual benefit of the United Kingdom.
(Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrats leader, October 2011)

I am determined, along with a new Scottish Labour leader when that person is chosen, to make that positive case for the union
(Ed Miliband, Labour Party leader, September 2011)

A clear vision of and a positive case for the Union needs to be developed
(John Curtice, Professor of Politics, University of Strathclyde, May 2011)

Voters should be inspired by being offered a positive case for the Union
(David Cameron, Conservative Party leader, now UK Prime Minister, April 2007)

We have got to show the positive case for the Union
(Gordon Brown, former Chancellor and Prime Minister, January 2007)

We have left unargued the essential case for the Union, because we do not believe that most British people need to be persuaded of it.
(Editorial in The Spectator, February 1979)


TIME ELAPSED: 32 years, 3 months



I’m beginning to wonder if there is a positive case for the Union at all.
(Iain Macwhirter, Sunday Herald)


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  1. 24 07 13 10:30

    Indyref for Eejits #6: Flat-out lying | Still Raining, Still Dreaming

5 to “Positive-Case-For-The-Union Watch”

  1. Scotland

    I like this part of the site. Nice idea.
    Moore had a try during questions. It is cringeworthy stuff. I think Bella Caledonia started to disect under articles titled Scotch Myths. See… 

  2. Scottish republic

    There is no positive case for the Union.  It is largely a case of comparison:
    comparing what we have at present with what we should have and don't get;
    comparing what we have and what we will have with £1 TRILLION in oil revenue(give or take the Brit nat parties saying the oil is worthless and is in fact a millstone around our neckw which will ultimately make us poorer… blah, blah);
    comparing austerity cuts to a vibrant upward moving dynamic Scotland with £1 TRILLION of oil revenue… did I mention that already?  
    Sorry, seem to have £1 TRILLION oil revenue Torette's.

  3. Ray

    As far as I can tell, this was last updated around March 2012. I think it would be quite helpful to point out that, even as of January 2013, Alistair Darling was going round Scotland saying “We will make a positive case for the Union” in all his speeches. They haven’t really moved on much…

  4. Alba4Eva

    One year on Ray… it’s now January 2014 and still we are hearing that we are going to be presented with the positive case for the union… yup, you guessed it… still nothing!

  5. Ermie Gumweed

    I would like to put an English viewpoint, if that’s ok, as the Scottish viewpoint is very vociferous and, as you say, not much has been said about the case for the Union. I have lived in the UK all my life. I feel so sad that some people in Scotland aren’t happy with our Union.I feel like somebody who has been in a reasonably happy marriage and the partner says one day, “I want to leave, I want to be on my own” but won’t make any attempts at explanation, reconciliation or counseling.

    Part of the the rUK feels that if you want to go you should go and part feels that it is a huge betrayal of trust and understanding, of a shared life together with all its ups and downs. I understand that Scots feel they want independence but so do many parts of the UK. I don’t want Cameron and his lot governing me. I don’t want to have a Tory MP, I didn’t vote for this. And in Scotland you can choose to get out of it – and I can see why you would. But here in rUK we don’t have the same antipathy towards Scotland that you seem to have towards us, we are cheerleaders for Scotland at every level, sporting, technological, academic etc.

    We acknowledge your individual culture (although some of us may have a a little difficulty with it!)we acknowledge your history AND our shared history. And therein lies the rub. We have over three hundred years of shared history and what a history it is. Our families are intertwined, Scots live in rUK, Welsh and English and NI citizens live in Scotland. You have had Ministers in the highest level of the Westminster parliament making decisions for the whole of the UK.

    Together we saw American independence, the industrial revolution, the abolition of slavery, the Battle of Trafalgar (More Scots and Irish fought at the Battle of Trafalgar than Englishmen did.)the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, the beginning of the railways, the start of the police force, the end of children down mines, the start of the postal service, the Crimea War, the first flushing toilets, the introduction of the universal education system, the opening of the London Underground, the invention of the telephone,the jet engine, the gramophone, radio and TV, the world wide web, the abolition of hanging, the defeat of the Boers in South Africa. Two world wars, our entry into the EU. This is our SHARED heritage, what we have achieved and been through together. And I know there’s bad stuff too but this is important, powerful stuff and such a lot to say goodbye to.

    I also lived through the Troubles in NI and I know how much evil constantly looking backwards and remembering only the bad past can bring to communities. Of course, you see a chance, an opportunity. This government has done nothing for the ordinary people of the UK and I can see how it would make you frustrated and angry. I am too. But please, think hard before you go off into the Utopia of independence. Think of what we have shared, achieved together and remember that the rUK really doesn’t want you to leave, this is a time when ever closer ties should be forged, not a time for tearing ourselves apart. If you go we wish you well but we don’t want you to go and believe we will all be the poorer for the split.

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