Gordon Brown and the prospect of Scottish independence

by fpman

The Scottish independence referendum is set to be held on September 18, less then a week from now. With the “yes” campaign in the lead, many from the other side are now making a desperate attempt to convince prospective supporters of independence to change their mind, and to keep current opposers from doing the same.

Such was the address by former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown to a group of activists in Glasgow, the day before yesterday. One of his central arguments focused on the benefits of the National Health Service (NHS). It seems that key groups of voters in Scotland, for example many elderly women, fear that these would be lost (or unsustainable) in independent Scotland, even as the Scottish National Party, for its part, promises to save the system from privatization through independence. We are tuning into this after Brown made some very personal remarks related to the subject. Quoting him:

“When I lost the sight of my eye and faced the prospect of going blind, my sight was saved by the NHS.

When my daughter died it was as the result of not being able, not being able, to do anything to save her life and my respect for the NHS grew as a result of the experience that Sarah and I had.”

Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah have lost their ten days old baby daughter, Jennifer Jane, in 2002. She was born prematurely and died of a brain haemorrhage. The couple since have two children, John Macaulay and James Fraser, but it took a long time for Gordon Brown to recover from the loss. This interview with him might well convey how much. At one point there he says: “I couldn’t listen to music for six months,” which for some reason I find particularly revealing of the pain he must have felt.

That he is now speaking of his daughter’s death in the context of the independence referendum may not be the best way to make the case for “no” but it certainly means a lot to him.