Willie Rennie on “dark, secretive” Better Together and “despicable” Cameron

Willie Rennie has gone to town on the Better Together pro-UK campaign in an interview for the Sunday Herald. He described it as “dark” and “secretive.”

Labour had a dark campaigning style. It was very secretive. Everything would be last minute. You would never be told much about what was going on until it happened. We all suffered. The Tories and ourselves suffered more, but some in Labour were out of the loop as well.”

You mean an inner circle ran everything? “Yes. It was Blair [McDougall, campaign director] and Rob [Shorthouse, communications director]. People like that were making decisions and had this addiction to secrecy. It was a fear of the other side finding out what we were planning.

It was quite shambolic in its development. Internal comms was poor. You just weren’t told about plans. Things were kept back. The board were frustrated at times as well.

Anyone thinking of developing a cross party referendum campaign at some point in the future should take heed of his words:

It was a clash of three different political parties. We all had very different visions for the union, so inevitably the common element was what we were against, which was independence.

So to get a consensus, you were focusing on the negative. You couldn’t do a positive vision.

He contrasted it with the losing but more grassroots Yes campaign:

The “top-down, politically led” nature of Better Together meant it missed a huge opportunity to grow a community-led campaign of the kind Yes Scotland fostered, says Rennie.

We were talking a different language. We were making a case – they had a cause. That changed the whole nature of it. And when they [Yes] started occupying the squares and towns and it had that East European feel, it made us gulp. You could feel it moving.

He also repeated comments he made at the time about those awful Alex Salmond pickpocket posters, describing the Tory tactics as “despicable.”

I thought Cameron was despicable. The way that, within a matter of months of having helped us save the United Kingdom, he was prepared to put his party before his country.

The Alex Salmond pickpocket [election ad] was despicable, just despicable. For somebody who calls himself first and foremost a Unionist, you don’t behave like that.

You can read the whole interview here.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary in print, on air or online.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in News.


  • tony dawson 14th Sep '15 - 8:31am

    Sounds just like “AV YES” 🙁

  • Stewart Dredge 14th Sep '15 - 11:04am

    Has Willie no self-awareness whatsoever? He had the option thoughout the referendum campaign to explain to the Scots about the benefits of a Scottish future within the UK but he was as bad as the rest with the negativity and scare-mongering!
    Couldn’t Craig Harrow have kept him updated? And on the subject of dark campaigning, Craig certainly hasn’t donned Willie’s outfitters for a sack-cloth suit. For wasn’t it he, this morning on GMS, whom I heard referring to Yes voters as “that rabble?”

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Alex Macfie
    Remember that ordinary voters are typically not partisan ideologues. In the Kennedy years we were able to appeal to younger voters with a radical agenda but wit...
  • Robin Stafford
    For those interested in health and the NHS, Roy Lilley's blog is worth a look. A strong supporter of the NHS thought not uncritical. https://myemail-api.cons...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Simon R, Yes well done! :-) It was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment. I usually have difficulty in persuading contributors to this site to think in ter...
  • Simon R
    @Peter Martin haven't you yourself have (quite correctly) often pointed out the need to think in terms of resources rather than money? ;-) There are differi...
  • theakes
    Over the past fortnight the United States Opinion polls seem to be turning, some have Biden in the overall lead, just! State by State unclear....