The reaction to Sunday’s YouGov poll suggesting that the Yes campaign had gained the lead in the run-up to the referendum on Scottish independence has, generally, involved an increasing number of variously clueless pundits running around in the style of so many headless chickens. And few have lost their heads with such an accompanying lack of style as floor-crosser Dan Hodges.
While the Maily Telegraph maintains the fiction that Hodges “writes about Labour with tribal loyalty”, the reality is that he has, since the election to the party leadership of Mil The Younger, maintained a constant mardy strop, which has continued with his suggestion that “If Scotland votes to leave, it will be self-serving Labour’s fault”. Yes, Labour is not in power, but has, in Hodges’ mind, to take responsibility.
How does he square this oddly-shaped circle? “Labour was always going to have prime responsibility for winning a referendum of 4 million voters who collectively could only bring themselves to vote for one Tory MP at the last general election. And Labour is currently making a dog’s dinner of it” he asserts. He does not stop and think why it is that Labour politicians have to make that case.
So let me put the former Colonel Nicholson of the Labour Party straight: Labour, and to a lesser extent the Lib Dems, have to do much of the hard work because the majority partner in the Coalition – the Tories – are roundly despised across the most heavily populated parts of Scotland. You know, Dan, the Tories – the party you were cheering on at the last London Mayoral elections.
And, as to who should shoulder the blame for a possible defeat a week on Thursday, well, perhaps Hodges might look at who has set the timetable for the independence referendum, as well as putting the question in a binary straitjacket. Hodges does not mention the name of that person until a cursory name-check in the eighth paragraph: our current Prime Minister, David Cameron.
It was Young Dave who agreed the timescale with Alex Salmond. It was Cameron who insisted that the choice put to the Scottish people must be a binary one of either “Yes” or “No”: Salmond’s suggestion of a third option, that of “Devo-Max”, was dismissed. It has been left to Pa Broon to take that very option on the road in an effort to ensure the Union is retained after the vote.
But then, anyone who peddles the line “For the truth is that Labour does not really believe in the Union. In reality, it only believes in the Union so long as that Union is presided over by the Labour Party” really has sold the pass. It is a non sequitur, a meaningless attempt to have his readers “look over there”, a fig-leaf to cover his hatred of Miliband for not being his beloved Tone.
Dan Hodges is making a habit of defending the Tories. That’s very revealing.