Scottish independence: Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael says there are no such thing as homogeneous Scottish values or homogeneous English values.
The Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister spearheading the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK, also claimed the SNP is poisoning relations in the UK by pretending there are different Scottish and English values.
His latest intervention is his most direct challenge yet to the SNP’s appeal to a single Scottish identity in the independence referendum campaign.
Referencing quotes by SNP Scottish education secretary Mike Russell that the UK approach to immigration is being “driven by Ukip and a nasty xenophobia”, Mr Carmichael claimed that the Nationalists are “trying to portray this as a contest between different values in Scotland from England”.
He claimed shared values were more likely to unite people across the UK than divide them but challenged the notion that there are specific English or Scottish values.
He also complained that the SNP are trying to create a view of the English in Scotland based on perceptions of the south east and London rather than the whole of England.
Mr Carmichael said: “There is no more a set of homogeneous Scottish values than there is a set of homogeneous English values.
“One of the tactics is to talk about ‘England’ meaning the south-east and London.
“I mean, if you look at voting patterns as an indication of people’s values then it is clear that people in the north of England and Wales, in the Midlands, share many of the values of the people of Scotland. And there are a whole range of values held by people in the city of London.”
The intervention by Mr Carmichael follows his concerns about how the referendum campaign will create bad feeling for years to come.
The Scottish Secretary has called for the campaign to be more positive. In a speech on identity he pointed out that he was described by an SNP councillor as a “supposed Scot” for not supporting independence.
In the interview over the weekend he said: “The language has already been quite disgraceful, talking about fees refugees swamping Scottish universities. There are people who are genuinely obsessive about this. I have been called a quisling and any number of things like that. It is offensive not just to me – I have broad shoulders, I can take it – but to our neighbours, who suffered under Nazi occupation.
“To compare the position of Scotland as part of the UK to their situation shows an incredible lack of judgment.”
Nationalists point out that the No camp has doled out its share of negative attacks including last week when one of Mr Carmichael’s predecessors as Scottish Secretary, Tory peer Lord Lang, claimed independence would “dishonour” the war dead.
Last night, a SNP spokesman said: “Alistair Carmichael talks about the need to keep the language in the debate respectful and we completely agree.
“Mr Russell was specifically referring to the xenophobic attitude of Ukip driving the UK government’s approach to immigration – it is for Mr Carmichael to explain why this is being allowed to damage Scotland’s higher education sector.
“Mr Carmichael’s problem is that the No side is panicking – as we saw in Lord Lang’s appalling and offensive speech – because they see the movement in the polls towards Yes and have no answers to what happens to Scotland if it is a No, such as the Scottish budget being slashed by £4 billion, the welfare state being dismantled by Westminster and the growing threat of getting dragged out of Europe.
“Only with a Yes vote does Scotland always get the government we vote for.”