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Scottish independence: positive No campaign call

Charles Kennedy. Picture: Donald MacLeod

Charles Kennedy. Picture: Donald MacLeod

  • by SCOTT MACNAB AND ANDREW WHITAKER
 

The pro-Union campaign must be more positive as the independence debate enters its last six months or risk turning voters off, according to former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Long-awaited proposals to hand more powers to Holyrood in the event of a No vote on 18 September will be unveiled by Labour today, including significant new tax-raising powers.

The leaders of the No campaign also drew up fresh battle lines for the final stages of the campaign as the six-month countdown kicked in, hailing the UK as the “most successful social, political and economic union” in global history.

But Mr Kennedy set out concerns about the tone of the pro-Union campaign in an interview to mark the end of his rectorship at Glasgow University.

The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber said the Scottish response to the Better Together campaign’s warnings about the economy and declining oil revenues will be: “Who are they to come up here and tell us what to do? We’ll make our own minds up, thank you very much.”

He has called on Better Together to be “more positive” and set out “a more coherent blueprint” for what would happen in the event of a No vote.

He said: “If you take, for example, the recent figures on the state of the Scottish economy, the decline in the oil revenues and so on and so forth, I’m not sure that the right response to that from our point of view is to say, ‘There we are, we told you so, Scotland could never go it alone’.

“I’m not sure that’s a resonance that you can establish with the people, and I’m not sure it’s the right one anyway.”

Labour will today publish the long-awaited report from the party’s devolution commission.

This is expected to recommend that Holyrood is made responsible for 40 per cent of the money it spends, compared with 12 per cent at present.

Scottish Labour’s leader, Johann Lamont, said: “This is an important piece of work which we hope will answer people’s desire to have a stronger, more accountable Scottish Parliament.

“We believe our proposals set out the most comprehensive package of devolution while also allowing Scotland the security and certainty of the United Kingdom.”

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) called on the main unionist parties to “agree a set of proposals on” extending the powers of Holyrood.

The STUC called for the Scottish Parliament to be handed powers to raise two-thirds of its expenditure, with all income tax and Air Passenger Duty being devolved.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael used the six-month countdown to urge voters to think of the future.

He said: “The UK has been the most successful social, political and economic union that the world has ever seen. That’s why, as a Scot, I appeal to all voters to get the facts and consider what is best for our future.”

Former chancellor Alistair Darling, who heads up the pro-Union Better Together campaign, said: “With just six months to go to save the most successful union in the history of the world, there can be absolutely no complacency.

“The Nationalists only need to win once and by one vote. I am calling on everyone who wants a stronger Scotland inside the United Kingdom to join us.”

 

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