THE campaign to keep Scotland in the UK needs to find a more positive voice to win over voters in the Highlands, according to former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.
He called for a shift away from the SNP-Labour “battle” in the central belt and warned against shrill exaggeration in the referendum debate.
The Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP set out his view at a Better Together training meeting in Inverness at the weekend, where he also claimed the SNP had shown more “audacity” than former Tory PM Margaret Thatcher.
“First, the need here is for a distinct tone of voice. Ours is not a mirror image of the essentially Labour-SNP battle taking place across the central belt,” he said.
“While all the same essential questions being posed of the Yes campaign apply, both the political geography and campaigning history across our unique area of Scotland requires even more emphasis on the constructive and the positive. Voters here do not want shrill exaggeration, they want sensible engagement.”
He called on others in the Better Together “vanguard” to spell out what a No vote would mean for the region.
“This, I believe, must focus on the necessity for more devolution, but within and across Scotland - and nowhere more so than here,” he said.
Mr Kennedy criticised the SNP-run Scottish Government for centralising services.
“We are seeing it over fire and police services, we have previously experienced it over the Crofting Commission and Highlands and Islands Enterprise,” he said.
“Even Mrs Thatcher, at the peak of her powers, would have baulked at such political audacity.
“These messages and this approach will resonate with voters from across the political spectrum and across the Highlands and islands.”