WHAT is in a name?
Plenty, it seems. The pieces of the jigsaw that will make up the cross-party campaign to keep Scotland in the UK are beginning to come together, providing some intriguing glimpses into the future shape of the independence debate. As yet this campaign has no name. However, as The Herald reveals today, we know what it is not. The word "Union" will not feature. Nor, presumably, "Unionist".
At first sight this seems strange. After all, commentators frequently use the term as shorthand for the opposite of Nationalist.
Doubtless, this apparent indecision will be seized upon by the SNP, which launches its pro-independence campaign on Friday. If even the name of the pro-UK campaign is a stumbling block, what chance is there of Labour working successfully with the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives to see off the Nationalist challenge? It is reminiscent of negotiations that break down because the parties cannot even agree a seating plan.
Yet the campaign committee, which includes Labour's Anas Sarwar and David McLetchie for the Tories, is wise to take soundings and take its time on this issue. There are several solid reasons for avoiding the label of Unionism. The first is that in much of the west of Scotland and the Central Belt the term is bound up with union with Ireland as well as England and Wales.
The Unionist Party was the name of the Tory party in Scotland until its merger in 1965 with the Conservative and Unionist Party of England and Wales. The title referred not to the Acts of Union of 1707 but the 1800 Act of Union, which created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, suggesting an affinity with Irish Unionism. That is another reason why a Labour-led campaign would be keen to avoid using the word.
Unionist is rarely a label of self-identification. It is more commonly used by Nationalists to taunt their opponents and exploit the divisions between them. It implies an alignment with the status quo, which many in the pro-UK camp emphatically reject. Both unsuccessful Scottish Labour leadership candidate, Ken Mackintosh, and LibDem Scottish Secretary Michael Moore describe themselves as "devolutionists". Many, especially in the Labour and LibDem camps, favour more powers for Holyrood, short of full independence.
The challenge of managing the campaign will fall to Blair McDougall, a former aide to David Miliband and a Blairite. Herding cats may prove easier. However, we welcome his appointment and wish him well. It is in everyone's interests that there are robust arguments both for and against Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom.
Prime Minister David Cameron made a welcome intervention of his own last night when he accepted 2014 as the year for the independence referendum. He is standing his ground on there being one question. We look forward to hearing his arguments, but the decision is not his to make.
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