Better Together campaign launch: Scots face ‘biggest decision’

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SCOTS have been warned it’s “make up your mind time” as the country faces up to the biggest decision it has ever taken in the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014.

• Labour, Conservatives and Liberals join forces for launch of Better Together campaign which is encouraging a no vote in 2014 independence referendum

The `Better Together` campaign is launched in Edinburgh. Picture: Neil Hanna

The `Better Together` campaign is launched in Edinburgh. Picture: Neil Hanna

• Yes vote for independence would be “irrevocable”

• SNP criticised for not spelling out plans for how an independent Scotland would retain the pound

Former chancellor Alistair Darling launched the campaign to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom on Monday and insisted independence provided no answers for Scots in an increasingly uncertain world.

He was joined by Labour leader Johann Lamont, Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Liberal Democrat chief Willie Rennie at the Better Together launch in the city’s Edinburgh Napier University.

Alistair Darling is one of the main figures of the Better Together campaign

Alistair Darling is one of the main figures of the Better Together campaign

“The most important political campaign of my life has started and I had to get involved,” Mr Darling said yesterday. “This decision will be the biggest we have ever taken in Scotland.”

He added: “This is not about saving the Union, this is about providing the best possible future for the generations of Scots who will follow us.”

Pensions, jobs, the armed forces, international influence are reasons to stay in the UK, according to the former chancellor, who said the referendum was looming in the most “turbulent and uncertain” times across the globe.

“It is a big and difficult world and independence is an inadequate response,” he said.

“Think of all the big questions the world is challenged by and then think, think really hard about which of these questions is Scottish independence the answer.

“In a world of complicated and difficult questions, Scotland is being offered a simple slogan.”

The campaign launch was deliberately aimed at everyday Scots with a string of ordinary voters speaking about their support for the UK. The aim was to contrast it with the launch of the Yes campaign last month which featured Hollywood actors such as Alan Cumming and Brian Cox.

And Mr Darling added: “The choice we make will be irrevocable. If we decide to leave the United Kingdom, there is no way back. We can’t give our children a one-way ticket to a deeply uncertain future.”

Prime Minister David Cameron was among those who appealed to Scots to stay in the UK.

He said: “Politics is too often about division. But three political parties are joining forces to celebrate the United Kingdom and say it is something worth fighting for.

“We all know Scotland can stand on its own two feet. We just believe the UK is special and we would all lose if separation happened. We treasure our United Kingdom and Scotland’s place in our family of nations.”

Mr Rennie closed the campaign launch by pledging: “We’ll take nothing for granted. In the campaign to keep our family together, we will work for every single vote.”

While he accepted that Scottish Nationalists were “passionate about their cause” of independence, he said: “I am determined that we will lead a campaign that will match them, and more, with our passion.”

But First Minister Alex Salmond hit out at what he called the “negative” approach of the Better Together launch.

“Alistair Darling’s use of smoke and mirrors during his speech exposes a campaign mired in negativity.

“His threadbare case against independence has been exposed by the weakness of his arguments,” he said.

He added: “Alistair Darling’s presentation was littered with words such as borders, division and upheaval; expressing arguments better suited to the 18th century than to the 21st.”

Mr Cameron and others have suggested that more power could be devolved to Scotland if people vote against independence, but Mr Salmond said the former chancellor “said not a single word” about this at the campaign launch.

“That is because, at heart, this is a Tory-led campaign which is intent on conceding nothing to the people of Scotland and hiding behind its refusal to spell out an alternative policy before the referendum.

“Urging people to vote ‘No’ with only vague Tory promises of something else will only encourage more people to vote ‘Yes’ to an independent Scotland.”