A Scottish view from the Tardis

A ROOM is too grand a term to describe the headquarters of Scotland United. The political organisation created amid the hangovers of the 9 April election now has as its permanent home a cupboard-size space with a door at the Scottish Trades Union Congress building in Glasgow.

Whether it has any future will be decided in the next 100 days. 'The Edinburgh European Community summit in December is make or break for us,' said theo organiser, Gordon McDougal. 'If we don't get people on the street, that's us finished.'

The summit was supposed to be Scotland United's first target. It is now clearly its only target, the one chance it will have to influence the Government and win its sole demand - a multi-option referendum on a devolved Scottish parliament, outright independence or the status quo.

Five thousand demonstrators jammed into George Square, Glasgow, on the Sunday after the general election, with blue-and-white saltires (shields bearing diagonal crosses) proclaiming 'Freedom now' and 'End Tory rule' - but now momentum has waned. A rally in Edinburgh two months later attracted only 3,000.

Away from the headlines, Scotland United has been busy. It has 7,500 members, there are 25 local groups, and the print union GPMU has become the first to inquire about affiliation.

Last month, at a summit in Ayr, the structure of the organisation was hammered out. Next month the first national council meeting will be held and elect an executive. If it is not a political party, it is certainly behaving like one. So is that ultimately what the organisers are aiming at?

'No,' said Mr McDougal. 'If we ever did, I think we would fall apart quickly. What unifies us is a single issue - the referendum. We don't carry any other political baggage.'

But it is hard to see the politicians involved as having no baggage. Labour MPs on the steering committee include Dennis Canavan (Falkirk West), Willie McKelvey (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) and George Galloway (Glasgow, Hillhead). The shock of seeing Mr Galloway sitting alongside the Scottish National Party leader, Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan), at a recent press conference in the SNP's Edinburgh headquarters brought shouts of 'traitor'.

Mr Canavan has accepted an invitation to speak at a fringe meeting at the SNP conference in Perth later this month - a move which will not help Labour's claim to be 'arguing, but still unified'.

The SNP recognises it as an organisation that could help it to regain ground after its their embarassing showing at the general election embarrasment. The Labour leadership is dismissive, saying: 'The Nats hijacked Scotland United ages ago.'

But Labour cannot dismiss the fact that it will need to gain 100 seats after boundary changes to form a government after the next election. John McAllion, Labour MP for Dundee East and a founder of Scotland United, takes a stark view: 'We can take Westminster, or we can break Westminster. I am for breaking it.'

Labour's trade union brethren, including senior officials,such as Campbell Christie and Bill Spiers, are embracing Scotland United with open arms. Although Scotland United pays a small rent for its room in the STUC, it is getting full support facilities. The Scotland United cupboard may be compared to a political Tardis - small to look at, but hiding a much bigger organisation.

With 100 days to go till the EC summit, Scotland United will see if it can break Westminster. But what would it take to break Scotland United? 'Well,' said Mr McDougal, 'if we don't get 20,000 on to the streets I'll be disappointed.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
A bartender serves beers
news
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig and Rory Kinnear film Spectre in London
film
Life and Style
The finale at Dolce and Gabbana autumn/winter 2015
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s