The last thing the Act of Union needs is a reboot

The Act of Union never had a great rep in Scotland. So why on earth is Kezia Dugdale demanding another one?

When it was signed, abolishing the Scottish Parliament in 1707, there were riots in the streets 
of Edinburgh and other Scottish towns.

The pro-union writer Daniel Defoe, who was working as an English spy in Scotland, admitted that for every person who supported the union “99 were against it”.

It later transpired that even those who had backed it only did so because they were bribed.

Robert Burns dismissed them as a “Parcel of Rogues in a nation” who were “bought and sold for English gold”.

The parcel of rogues insult was later thrown at Scottish Labour when they campaigned beside the Tories in the independence referendum of 2014. The insult stuck.

Labour’s vote subsequently melted like snow aff a dyke. Now Kezia is charged with the unenviable task of making the party relevant again in Scotland. This, surely, isn’t the way.

Back when Labour used to win elections and run things in Scotland, their leaders understood that stringing out the bunting for the Act of Union was no vote winner.

A Labour government reigned at Holyrood in 2007, the 300th anniversary of the Act, which came into effect on May 1, 1707.

But there were no celebrations, no historic re-enactments, no street parties. What’s the point of a party if nobody wants to come?

Scottish ministers hoped if they ignored it, bad memories of the Act of Union would go away.

It was left to the UK Government to come up with a gesture of sorts, the launch of a commemorative £2 coin... in London.

Read the rest of my column here.


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