How significant is Jim Sillars’ latest intervention in the independence debate (your report, 24 January)?
From what I have gleaned, he is trying to appeal to the “working class” in Scotland. As George Kerevan points out (Perspective, same edition) he has invoked the name of Aneurin Bevan to help support this approach.
What he has done is highlight a dilemma for the Yes campaign over the coming months.
Does it make an appeal to the middle-income voters who helped the SNP to its first majority government? Or a somewhat illusory social group – whether they are called disillusioned Labour voters or the “working class”?
For the Yes strategists there is a decision to be made. Do they keep their arguments broad or try to entice a largely mythical “working class” with an old- fashioned appeal to the politics of yesteryear?
George Kerevan’s article prompted me to climb into my attic and recover a box of political memorabilia from my student days in the early 1960s.
I knew I had a copy of Bevan’s In Place of Fear, and I found that his first chapter – “Poverty, Property and Democracy” – could have been written today.
The one difference is that, in 1952, you had clear political classes and parties representing them to the full. Now the people at the bottom of the ladder do not have a radical voice representing them. They are the untouchables because the have been demonised by all sections of the community.
Where are Scotland’s once-proud traditional non-conformist thinkers? Some are still around but too few to rally the troops.
I admire Jim Sillars and Dennis Canavan for trying but I don’t think the Labour establishment want to know them – which is a pity, as it would be worth listening to the debate.