Alistair Darling leads ‘No to independence’ fight over tea and biscuits
FORMER chancellor Alistair Darling has hosted high-level meetings at his Edinburgh home about how the “No to Independence” campaign should proceed.
Mr Darling, the MP for Edinburgh South West, admitted that he has had several long meetings with leading figures from across Unionist parties about launching the campaign in the next few weeks.
The latest of those meetings was attended by Labour shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy and shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander along with former Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie and Lib Dem Scottish secretary Michael Moore’s special adviser Euan Roddin.
Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair also looks set to be drafted into the pro-UK campaign team to help prevent the break-up of the United Kingdom.
Mr Blair, whose government introduced devolution to Scotland is said to be keen to take on the Nationalists.
In his autobiography, Mr Blair said that nationalism made him “feel alien” in Scotland despite having been born there, having Scottish parents and being schooled at Fettes in Edinburgh.
Speaking of his former party leader Mr Blair, Mr Darling yesterday said: “He’s got a lot to contribute and I hope he’ll contribute more in the future.”
Mr Darling said he will have no difficulty working with political opponents in the No to Independence campaign.
He said: “I think it would be ridiculous to say, well, I’m not going to co-operate with someone who actually agrees with me.
“You’ll see some odd bedfellows on the other side of the argument I suspect.”
Labour’s leader in Scotland Johann Lamont said her party will be ready for the vote, but seemed to question whether it will be held at all in an article for Scotland on Sunday.
“The fact that even at the height of his popularity Alex Salmond didn’t want to call his referendum suggests he believed he would lose. Indeed, he said as much to one of Rupert Murdoch’s papers last week.
“We will be ready when – perhaps, if – the referendum comes and will not be complacent.”
A Labour spokesman added: “This is a once in a lifetime chance for Alex Salmond, and Johann is making the point that maybe he will chicken out. What if it gets to 2014 and Salmond sees the way the polls are going, thinks he can’t win and pulls it?”
The SNP yesterday said any involvement of Mr Blair in the independence campaign would be a disaster for the Unionists.
SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said: “Any involvement by Tony Blair urging the people of Scotland to vote ‘No’ in the referendum would be an absolute disaster for the anti-independence parties. Mr Blair remains deeply unpopular in Scotland and his involvement would only encourage more people to vote ‘Yes’ to independence.
“Yes Scotland stands in stark contrast to the anti-independence parties’ emerging No campaign, which looks like politicians being put front and centre.”
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
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