Darling kicks off campaign against Scottish independence

Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 01:00

THE CAMPAIGN against Scottish first minister Alex Salmond’s bid for independence is to be launched today, with the Scots to be told that it will be the most important decision of their lives – and one from which there can be no “turning back”.

So far, the opinion polls indicate that Mr Salmond will not win the referendum, which is expected to be held in October 2014. The latest showed that the drift away from the pro-independence camp is accelerating.

Former chancellor Alistair Darling of Labour will lead today’s pro-union campaign launch, though he insisted this weekend that the campaign to come would be “about the people of Scotland, not a beauty parade of politicians”.

The “Better Together” campaign will get under way with full-page adverts in nine Scottish newspapers in which Better Together proclaims that membership of the United Kingdom offers Scotland “the best of both worlds”.

The text reads: “The referendum on independence will be the most important decision of our lifetimes. We must all get involved because the outcome will affect the future of our country and our families.

“There will be no trial separation. And absolutely no going back.”

So far, Better Together is refusing to identify its donors, but it says that it will do so occasionally during the campaign. However, the majority of the seed money needed to kick-start the campaign has come from Labour and the Conservatives.

Given the poor standing of the Conservatives in Scotland, where they have just one House of Commons MP, and the dramatic fall in the Liberal Democrats’ fortunes, the campaign will be fronted by senior Labour figures such as Mr Darling.

Focusing on Mr Salmond’s past support for membership of the euro, Mr Darling said Mr Salmond now planned for Scotland to keep sterling, yet without having any voice in the determination of economic and monetary policy.

Such a policy was “lunacy”, said Mr Darling. He said the key lesson to date from the euro zone crisis was that monetary union must operate in tandem with political union – which could not happen if Scotland voted for independence.

The launch is expected to be a sober affair, with no celebrities present – unlike the SNP’s high-profile opening which somewhat backfired when one of its supporters, actor Alan Cummings, was found not to be a Scottish taxpayer because he lives in the US.