Alex Salmond hails Yes campaign as ‘best’ ever

SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: Alex Salmond tonight proclaimed the Yes campaign as the “greatest in Scottish history” during a rousing final address to supporters in Perth.

SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: Alex Salmond tonight proclaimed the Yes campaign as the “greatest in Scottish history” during a rousing final address to supporters in Perth.

He urged Scots to seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and leave their “mark in the pages of history” by voting Yes in today’s referendum.

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The “enduring bonds” which already link friends, family and neighbours with the rest of the UK will remain after Scottish independence, Mr Salmond said.

He was expected to cast his vote in his Aberdeenshire constituency this morning before embarking on a last-ditch whistlestop campaigning tour around the country tomorrow.

About 1,600 Yes campaigners packed Perth Concert Hall to hear a final rallying call from the figurehead of the campaign.

“This has been the greatest campaign in Scottish history – and you the greatest campaigners,” Mr Salmond said.

“We meet tonight on the eve of the most exciting day in Scottish democracy. We do so to catch our breath for the day ahead – a day which Scotland will never forget.”

The vote today is the “opportunity of a lifetime”, the SNP leader added. “A precious chance to leave our mark in the pages of history.”

He added: “I have toured this country on many a campaign. But never have I experienced such a remarkable wave of political activism.

“If we win tomorrow – and that is now in your hands – it will be because of the thousands of individuals all across Scotland who have become leaders in their communities.”

The pro-independence camp is already widely seen to have run the stronger of the two campaigns, resulting in the poll gap between the two sides all but disappearing in the final weeks. It has often bypassed traditional campaign battlegrounds and focused on a more direct grassroots approach, including a highly active social media campaign.

The Yes camp has been the clear winner in the “guerrilla war”, according to Talkwalker, one of Europe’s biggest analysts of online conversations.

The Yes campaign is three times more socially active than the No campaign, with 75.8 per cent of its backers active, compared with 23.7 per cent on the other side.

The Yes campaign has also achieved twice the social reach of the No campaign, with a two billion potential viewership against a one billion potential viewership.

#YesScotland is also the most engaging hashtag, with a reach of 13.6 million.

Mr Salmond has personalised the debate like no other politician.

And last night the First Minister again dismissed the No campaign’s last-ditch pledge to devolve more powers to Holyrood in the event of a No vote.

The absence of an agreed deal between all three pro-Union parties before the referendum means that the public cannot “judge and scrutinise” what is on offer before casting their vote, Mr Salmond said.

“It’s the reaction of the powerful few who believe they always know what is best, that power should always be in their hands,” he added.

Tory backbenchers have already voiced concerns about the prospect of greater tax-raising powers being devolved to Holyrood. “Within 24 hours, even this last-minute, vague intervention from Westminster has fallen apart,” Mr Salmond said.

“It is the clearest demonstration yet of why Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands. It makes the case for Yes more clearly than ever.”