It is currently being announced across the papers that Gordon Brown, the Man Who Saved The Union as according to his puppets in the press and media, is going to capitalise on his glorious victory against the Evil Forces of Nationalism by… standing down in 2015. He follows his stablemate Alistair Darling, the Leader of Better Together, who announced his intentions to stand down even earlier after what the media would love to claim was a heroic triumph against the insidious might of separatism. Before him, Johann Lamont, the leader of the opposition who handed the SNP their most crucial defeat, saw fit to follow it up by… standing down before Alex Salmond himself did. Time will only tell whether they will be joined by more “victors” among New Labour and their allies in the next six months.
We independence supporters all know what a despicable, chronic pseudologue Gordon Brown is. He lied about organ transplants, he lied about oil, he lied about the NHS in Scotland, he lied about pensions. I don’t even need to point out his rank hypocrisy over criticisms of the SNP’s corporation tax policy. And that’s just the referendum campaign: you don’t have to look far back to find the lies during his reign in Westminster.
So it’s understandable that Yes voters are angry. What I can’t understand is why No voters aren’t even more furious.
After all, Gordon Brown is the architect of The Vow. He’s the one who was broadcast incessantly over the final week of the referendum, full of promises and commitments and assurances. He gave his personal assurance that these powers would be delivered.
The promises that were made last week about change, about the delivery of further devolution, must be, and I believe, and will ensure, will be delivered. The eyes of the world have been upon us and now I think the eyes of the world are upon the leaders of the major parties of the United Kingdom. These are men who had been promise makers, and they will not be promise breakers, and I will ensure that these promises that have been made are upheld.
– Gordon Brown, 20th September 2014
Yet within days, Gordon Brown went back on his word. He did not appear at a House of Commons dedicated to further devolution which was held a mere three days after the referendum. He did not put himself forward as leader of New Labour in Scotland, even after being asked to do so by his own party leader, even though he was the most popular choice among New Labour voters alongside Jim Murphy, even though that would give him sufficiently more power and clout to ensure delivery of powers than his current status as a mostly-absentee back bencher. He even proved he couldn’t guarantee that parliament would hear the calls for further devolution, and hijacked an online petition in what seems an implicit admission of his complete lack of power to deliver. And now, we find he is standing down, and will not, in fact, “ensure” that further devolution would be delivered – much less the “near federalism” that he promised within “one or two years.”
If I were a No voter, I would be utterly incandescent that this man, the man who “won” the referendum, who saved the Union from the biggest constitutional crisis it had ever faced, would not see through his promises to the end. I would feel such betrayal, such frustration, such confusion. How could he do this? How could he make such grand claims, to have fought so hard, to have finally given us an “emotional case for the Union,” only to bail out? If you voted No on the basis of Gordon Brown giving his personal assurance that he would help deliver more powers, then why wouldn’t you be mad?
I really don’t know how much more betrayal it will take before people finally realise it. Will it be when the Smith Commission inevitably offers a mere pittance? Will it be when the findings of the Smith Commission are ignored or marginalised by whichever Westminster party gets in? Will it be years down the line, as we find Westminster just drag their feet as they have with the Scotland Act 2012 (which still hasn’t fully implemented its meagre powers?) When I attended the most recent Big Debate at Greenock, Mona Siddiqui warned us that we shouldn’t “go into something expecting to be betrayed”: a fair sentiment in most circumstances. But when it comes to devolution, it becomes a bit like Charlie Brown and the football: how many times are we Scots going to go for a kick of the Devo Ball, only for Westminster to yank it away, leaving us to fall flat on our backs?
The Man Who Saved The Union is looking very rapidly like he didn’t really “save” anything – at least, nothing that will last the next decade. That he is choosing to escape now shows the dire straits New Labour are in. They’ve stalled the tide of Nationalism – but the tide continues to swell, and the dam they put in our way is made of sand and balsawood. It won’t stand long.