Scottish independence: Camps step up as vote looms

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BOTH sides of Scotland’s independence debate are to increase their campaigning significantly as the referendum battle moves into its final full week.

Yes Scotland and Better Together will use leaflets, billboards, TV adverts and social media in an attempt to win over undecided voters.

Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah took the Better Together message to the streets of Kirkcaldy yesterday. Picture: Mark Sutherland

Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah took the Better Together message to the streets of Kirkcaldy yesterday. Picture: Mark Sutherland

Senior Labour Party figures are to join the pro-Union campaign this week. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls is in Aberdeen today, while former prime minister Gordon Brown also kicks off a whistlestop tour of the country. Former deputy prime minister John Prescott and Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones are also appearing, while Labour will stage a rally on Friday headed by party leader Ed Miliband. This will coincide with a planned pro-Union rally by Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Glasgow.

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Independence supporters want to capitalise on what is described as a “strong current’’ of support and, as part of this week’s push, engineering tycoon Jim McColl, who recently stepped in to save Ferguson shipyard on the lower Clyde, will write to 675,000 people who have been identified as either undecided or leaning towards No to urge them to back independence.

A Yes Scotland television advert focusing on the NHS will also be broadcast on Monday, and on Tuesday First Minister Alex Salmond will take to Facebook to answer questions from undecided voters.

Blair Jenkins, Yes Scotland chief executive, said: “Yes are delivering the biggest campaign in Scottish political history – focused on both undecided and No voters, because people in both groups are deciding to vote Yes when they think about the huge opportunities that only Yes offers.’’

Alistair Darling, leader of the pro-Union campaign, said the planned letter from Mr McColl was “rank hypocrisy” as he is not based in Scotland.

Better Together will also step up its leafleting with young voters to receive personally addressed letters.

Labour MP Douglas Alexander said: “In the course of the coming days, we will be joined by amongst others John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, and Carwyn Jones, the first minister of Wales. All young voters across Scotland will get a personally addressed letter this week from Better Together.

“Over four million individually addressed pieces of communication started going out last week. The first (named person on the electoral register) in every household will have already received campaign material, and three days before polling day the second named person in every household will get a personally addressed communication.”

The Yes campaign said it had experienced “stunning’’ demand last week, distributing almost five million printed documents to its local groups.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said intelligence from the campaign’s canvassing database showed there was a “significant shift’’ taking place on the ground.

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