A lot of thoughtful and varied responses. Sorry for the awful quality, probably shouldn’t have bothered, but I think a lot of politically-minded people would listen with interest for the messages contained therein. Steven Purcell, whatever your own politics, is a very well informed observer who knows how to get votes in Glasgow, knows what motivates Labour people and how they relate to the issue of independence. One Yes-minded person who worked with him described him to me as “political genius”. You may laugh but what that means is that if you want Scotland’s largest electorate to vote for you, arguably no one knows better how that is done.
I didn’t interview him in any BBC style because that’s not what I’m doing…I want to do the reverse of a standard BBC devil’s advocate challenging discussion in order to get someone to open up and expand on their thoughts, let ideas develop in a way that hardly ever happens on the airwaves because of time constraints and, yes, the dreaded balance. It is only through listening I believe that we learn what our opponents and others really think and why.
I’m not trying to justify anything in Steven’s record in office, but to probe him on what he thinks, how that opens doors to Labour voters and how and why Labour may be making mistakes – or even what they are getting right. I’ll do the same with a Tory. It is a long listen if you’re used to conventional radio but if you want to learn something new, sometimes it requires patience. I allowed Steven to talk about his personal issues because he’s entitled to that. Many people “enjoyed” his trials but whatever errors he made, and he doesn’t deny them, he proved to be fallible, as am I. This is about what we, as people who need Labour votes to win independence, can learn from an expert. That he agreed to share his thoughts shows I think that he’s not stuck in the Labour mind-set.
You can disagree with him but I think he represents an intriguing cusp in Labour thinking. I don’t believe he’s at all afraid of independence, just not convinced it’s necessary, like the hundreds of thousands Yes needs to turn. But he does passionately want major reform and wants it across Britain. If there’s isn’t independence, I agree with him. If you listen closely, there is the clear dilemma of many of our fellow Scots who don’t support the SNP but want major change and have been denied by their own party their favoured option and are hovering, ready for one last push to Yes. Steven Purcell may only represent the failed Labour Party to you, but to me, and I suggest to seekers after independence, he embodies the agonising choice of those whose votes will determine our nation’s future. And after speaking to him, I really couldn’t tell if he’ll vote No or Yes. Imagine the impact if he declared before September 18. (I’ll have to ask him back).