Alistair Darling calls on Better Together to advance positive case for the Union

The head of the Better Together campaign has called on those wanting to keep Scotland within the Union to base their case on a positive platform that extols the virtues of membership.

Alistair DarlingAmid a background of criticism about the direction of the pro-union campaign so far, not least by this website, Alistair Darling yesterday kicked off a summer grassroots campaign with a lecture at Glasgow University.

Calling for Scots to make a “positive” choice to remain within the UK, Darling declared:

“In my view, the onus is on those who want to break up the union to explain why, and why going-it-alone would be better for Scotland.

But there is also an obligation on those of us who support the UK to explain the positive, principled case for staying together, because we want Scots to make a positive choice to remain part of the UK, and not merely to reject the risks and uncertainties of independence.”

Highlighting key issues at stake such as jobs, security, the economy, defence, public services and pensions, he said that “the arguments for staying in the United Kingdom to protect and secure these interests are compelling.”

Darling’s speech came following reports that he personally intervened to quash reports that the UK government would consider making the Faslane naval base part of UK sovereign territory, home to the UK’s nuclear submarines, in the event of Scotland voting for independence.

Amid reports that the former chancellor had personally telephoned Downing Street to outline his concerns at the news which, he felt, would threaten to undermine the content of his Glasgow speech, Darling told reporters after the speech:

“It was a row that quickly surfaced and equally quickly it was sunk. It was a frankly ridiculous proposal to suggest we could possibly designate part of Scotland as different from the rest. I am glad the UK government has hit it hard on the head – that’s exactly what it deserved.

“Any normal person looking at it for more than 10 seconds would come to the view that this was something that should just go straight into the bucket.”

Meanwhile, first minister Alex Salmond will today start a summer series of speeches by attacking what he describes as the Better Together Campaign’s “scare stories”.

Speaking at the Nigg Energy Park on the Cromarty in Firth he is expected to say that the No campaign has been “caught out big time in the nature of their arguments”:

“They claimed that mobile phone charges would go up in an independent Scotland the day before the European Commission set about abolishing roaming charges across Europe.

“They said that the UK’s triple-A status was crucial to Scotland and then proceeded to lose it for the UK.

“They said that UK embassies would no longer promote whisky, oblivious to the fact that they already charge for such receptions.

“All of this nonsense and much, much more is wrapped up in what the Better Together campaign themselves describe as ‘Project Fear’ – their confidence that they can scare people out of voting for independence.”

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  • TristanPriceWilliams

    Highlighting key issues at stake such as jobs, security, the economy, defence, public services and pensions, he said that “the arguments for staying in the United Kingdom to protect and secure these interests are compelling.”

    but he didn’t say what they were. Will there be more jobs if we stay in the union? Will the economy be better run by George Osborne, or indeed Ed Balls who seems to agree with everything Osborne does? Does little Scotland really need the 4th largest spend in the world on defence? Public services organised solely in Scotland are already better (health, education, law and order) and our counterparts in other small countries manage to pay better pensions than the Uk, where only the royal family and aristos seem to do well when they get old. Even MPs are going to have their gold plate pensions taken away from them. State pensions are less in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, by comparison to wages. Even in Jersey and Guernsey, they are £180 and £180 a week respectively compared with the UK’s £110.

    Alistair will have to tell us and outline why and how these things are better in a country which continues, despite biting poverty and food banks to spend just less than America or China or Russia on killing people.

    I understand that the hall with capacity for around 250 people was only half full. Alistair did much better at the Tory conference

  • TheMushyPea

    TPW – if you read his speech he does address many of these issues. The point is not that the UK is perfect, far from it, but that the cultural, political and economic benefits outweigh those of independence and narrow nationalism, and I am inclined to agree. I do not wish to live in an oil state, cut off from our neighbours and cousins. I do not wish to be a foreigner in Wales or Newcastle, and I do not wish to be in a currency union we have no control over.

  • Peter A Bell

    Alistair Darling manages to focus on the banal and the inconsequential without neglecting the trivial and the mundane.

  • James Cammeron

    Only someone with
    a myopic view of Scottish independence could believe or put forward your position
    “oil state, cut off from our neighbours and cousins.”. Is that not
    Negative Campaigning?

    Oil will be ~8% Scottish GDP, Whiskey exports, Engineering, Tourism et al are
    all on a par with this, Oil is a nice bonus, but not a dependency Level. Since
    we do not presently see the whole Oil revenue, it will be like a pleasant 5-6%
    pay rise to the Scottish Exchequer

    “Cut Off” = how? a “Hard” border – must be a hard r’UK border
    (on the r’UK side), as Scot. Gov.
    confirms they will have no border posts.

    I wish people like you would not push this “Sh*t” , it just makes the
    NO Scotland campaign look foolish when, compared to your “Official”
    project fear, you are now behind the curve with such comments.

  • TheMushyPea

    James Cameron – what twaddle, it is not negative campaigning it is simply that you do not accept the things I have listed as positive – shared belonging, pooled resources, freedom of belonging etc. I suspect what it really comes down to is if you believe there is such a thing as British culture as well as Scottish/English/Welsh etc culture. if you do then the advantages, the positives of Scotland in the UK are clear.

    The oil-stare problem is real. Personally I think the sooner we stop using the stuff the better. neither side is proposing that now but an indy Scotland will be very heavily reliant on oil (20% economy I believe) and even less likely to support real transition. The question of who makes the border hard is irrelevant, there is a good chance it will happen. Perhaps not immediately but it could. In my opinion the Yes campaign is hugely negative, claiming that everything is so bad we have to change, that our neighbours are do different we cannot share, that nothing is within our power and we are a subjugated colony. None of it true.

  • Baxter Parp

    Wot, no report on Salmond’s speech today? How very even-handed.

  • fras

    we are sick of being 2nd class in our own country dictated too by westminster and the empire attitude of our neighbours down south the inequality of london and all it stands for , just remember your queen is only a servant of our nation nothing more