Rehearsal Over

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).

Referendum Radio Rehearsal

I’ve been seeking alternative voices on the referendum to gauge what’s really happening and not relying solely on sources that will support my own point of view, which is what we all do for reassurance and to keep our focus. But the big  unknown out there is what those who are persuadable are thinking and especially in areas where the population is highest. In board terms that means West Central Scotland where by some estimates nearly 40 per cent of voters associate themselves with Labour. And as we know, Labour’s position is anti independence – officially. We also know many Labour people don’t take that view and others are ready to make the leap if they can be convinced. So what does that take? How do we persuade them to back the transformation of our country? One of the most astute analysts of Labour politics is Steven Purcell. His rapid rise in Glasgow politics caused resentment in Labour and his emergence on the national scene did the same for many Nationalists. When he had a public fall from grace there was much laughing behind hands and, as I described it later, unedifying pleasure. He’s back in business now and sharp as a tack, his loyalty to Scottish Labour strong but unconstrained by a need to appease leadership egos.


I am part of a group putting together a Referendum Radio station which will provide, among other items, long form interviews with key players in the debate. In the meantime I’ve been practising. I spoke to Steven today and as a taster of what we are planning thought you’d like to hear his views as this is the week of the Labour conference. I will be using professional equipment soon and this meeting was inexpertly recorded by me! So you get the first cut. (This is the blogosphere after all) He has some interesting things to say and I suspect there is more to come as the campaign moves on.

(upgraded version)

Don’t laugh at the quality, either of the sound or the interviewing….But  let me know what you think.