One of the more amusing aspects of the term “secret summit” is just how un-secret they tend to be, at least to the agenda’s the attendee’s though occasionally not to what was actually said rather than what was reported said.
Still, if you want to annoy a group of people and achieve the very opposite of what you’re aiming for, then letting the world know what you’ve been doing is probably not the smartest thing in the world to do, particularly when it comes to Scottish Nationalists.
Senior aides to David Cameron took part in a secret all-party ‘council of war’ at former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling’s Edinburgh home in a bid to stop Scottish independence.
No 10 director of political strategy Andrew Cooper and former Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie attended the historic talks to discuss how to defeat Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond in the referendum on independence.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander and Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy were also at the meeting, with the Liberal Democrats represented by Euan Roddin, the special adviser to Scottish Secretary Michael Moore.
The six men spent three hours discussing their battle plans at the meeting held a month ago at Mr Darling’s home in the Abbotsford Park area that has become their unofficial HQ.
Fortified by tea and sandwiches provided by Mr Darling’s wife Maggie, they agreed that the only way to defeat Mr Salmond was to bury their differences and join forces in what has now been described as the ‘Abbotsford Accord’.
A source said: ‘It was a momentous event. It feels odd sitting down with people you have spent your whole life opposing, but we have to pool our resources to save the Union. It is a referendum, not a rerun of Bannockburn as the SNP would have us believe. But like wars, elections are usually won by the side with the best leaders, resources and tactics.’
It was decided at the Darling summit that the campaign should be run by politicians based in Scotland, so Mr Cameron will be kept in the background. And despite the joint ‘save the Union’ effort, each party will also run their own anti-independence campaign.
I suspect that the SNP will make much hay out of this “English” plot to prevent their aims. (It’s actually a British plot, but using the word “English” in a pejorative mode resonates better with a lot of Scots) What the politicians in Westminster fear is a loss of power, they feel that alone the component parts of the UK will no longer have a seat at the big table or anything like as much influence. They may be right, however that’s not an argument that will wash too well with Scottish nationalists, nor will any seeming alliance amongst the Westminster political elite, if anything it will feed their persecution complex such as it is.
Personally I rather do hope that the Scots will decide to go their own way, I’m rather tired of hearing about “Scotland’s” oil and I’ve read all the arguments about how well they’ll do. I’m also aware of just how deep anti-English hate and bigotry goes in some parts of Scottish society, to the embarrassment of those who have done their best to make the intellectual case for going it alone, after all you don’t see kids from Scotland beaten up in England for wearing an English shirt, nor women beaten up simply for being Scottish, something that has happened in Scotland to their shame (or delight in the case of a few Neanderthals if that’s not too great an insult to Neanderthals)
In the end this is for the people to decide, the politicians can try and persuade them, but holding secret summits is not the way to do it, it’s counter-productive to say the least.
Mind you the surest way perhaps for the Scots to manage to go their own way would be to somehow get the English to vote on whether to keep them.
But that would open up a massive can of worms.