SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: The “ice bucket challenge” which has seen everyone from former presidents to Hollywood A-listers doused in freezing water for charity took centre stage in the independence referendum campaign yesterday, when actor James McAvoy nominated Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond for a drenching.
McAvoy gave the leader of Better Together and the First Minister 24 hours to take up the dare.
Mr Darling, whose campaign was dubbed Wetter Together for the occasion, stepped up first, taking a seat in an Edinburgh garden to have buckets of icy water thrown over him by staffers.
Their evident enjoyment of the boss’s soaking was replaced by trepidation when Mr Darling said he was nominating his staff to do the dare next.
“One of the good things about being the boss is you can nominate your staff for anything you want, and tell them what to do –so I nominate the staff of Better Together,” he said.
Mr Darling took the ice bucket challenge to raise money for a motor neurone disease campaign set up by Gordon Aikman, a former director of research at Better Together who suffers from the terminal disease.
However, the First Minister failed to rise to the challenge last night. Despite tweeting, “I’m always up for any challenge, and I’m game for this one”, Mr Salmond appeared reluctant to get wet. A spokesman insisted he would do it, but just not immediately.
The ice bucket challenge began as a fundraising effort in the US for the ALS Association, which raises money for research into Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neurodegenerative condition. Since it began last month, it has raised more than $53.3 million from 1.1 million new donors in what is one of the most viral philanthropic social-media campaigns ever.
Thousands of people, including celebrities like Taylor Swift, Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah Winfrey, and former presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton, have posted videos of themselves getting buckets of ice water dumped over their heads and challenging others to do the same – or donate money to charity.
In his video, X-Men star McAvoy said: “As it is the year of the Scottish referendum on independence, I’d like to nominate our political champions Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond to do their very worst.”
As a bucket of icy water is poured over his head, he adds: “Alex, Alistair, you’ve got 24 hours.”
McAvoy said he was nominated for the challenge by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
Meanwhile, former Rangers chief executive Charles Green donned a strip to take the challenge after being nominated by former Ibrox goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
He went on to nominate Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell and Sky Sports presenter Jim Whyte.
Meanwhile the US State Department has banned participation by high-profile diplomats their lawyers ruling that taking part would violate the code barring officials from using public office for private gain “no matter how worthy the cause”.