Welcome to this update, after a busy period for the Scotland in Union team, including some excellent local events with guest speakers from business, academia, and Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative parties – showing the wide range of people who support SIU.
More recently, we’ve seen the publication of the SNP’s ‘Growth Commission’ report. I won’t review it here, other than to say that I was genuinely surprised by the way in which it rows back from the EU and the Euro. But the way in which the SNP tried to manage the report’s release is a story in its own right.
In the week before the report was released, there was a series of SNP a ‘no approach’ press releases – meaning that journalists were not to get quotes from other sources. Then came the news that the report would be released online, without a press conference. Later, favoured pro-SNP individuals had received early copies, to enable them to comment before others had seen it. And finally, even the online release was delayed on the day.
Pro-UK commentators had to go into radio and TV studios, facing nationalists who had had access to the report, either without having seen the document or having only managed the briefest of scans. This, I suggest, showed a telling lack of confidence and degree of paranoia.
Despite these tactics, the Scotland in Union team grabbed the initiative. While it was a team effort, our Chief Executive, Pamela Nash, deserves particular mention: not only did she coordinate SIU’s response; she also put in a great showing on the Daily Politics on BBC2, despite having only had 20 minutes to look at the document, and being interviewed alongside Andrew Wilson, the report’s main author. I’m delighted by the way that SIU has been at the forefront of the response to the report, to add our own non-party angle and to stand up for the moderate majority.
The Growth Commission was supposed to kick-start the next drive for ‘indyref2’, and our dedicated team have helped to reduce that risk. But there is no room for complacency. The SNP are briefing that the report provides a route to independence, and Nicola Sturgeon will be touring Scotland during the summer to gee up the nationalist faithful.
The SIU team will have to continue our campaign to strengthen Scotland’s place in the UK; I hope you can help to support them in this vital work.