Yes Scotland must ‘sharpen up’, says chairman

THE chairman of the pro-independence campaign says it must “sharpen up” and address the everyday “needs of people” to secure a Yes vote in next year’s referendum.
Dennis Canavan, the chairman of Yes Scotland. Picture: Robert PerryDennis Canavan, the chairman of Yes Scotland. Picture: Robert Perry
Dennis Canavan, the chairman of Yes Scotland. Picture: Robert Perry

Dennis Canavan wants to see Yes Scotland shift the debate on to the climate of austerity being imposed from Westminster and the opportunities of a “fair society” under independence.

His comments follow calls over the weekend for Nationalists to set out a bolder vision for independence, after a YouGov poll, commissioned by the Better Together campaign, showed that 62 per cent of voters questioned did not find the case for independence convincing.

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MSPs Margo MacDonald and Patrick Harvie were among those who called for greater impetus from the Yes campaign in Scotland on Sunday.

Mr Canavan, former Labour MP and MSP, who won a rapturous response from SNP delegates at their spring conference in Inverness, said the Yes campaign was confident of winning the “hearts and minds” of Scots between now and the referendum in September of next year.

He said: “Our aim in Yes Scotland is to put across a positive vision of an independent Scotland, a more prosperous Scotland and a fairer Scotland. Speaking personally, I think we need to sharpen up our campaign by pointing out the stark contrast between the austerity and misery of the status quo under the Union and the opportunity for radical change which independence presents.”

The age of austerity being imposed on Scotland by a government it did not elect and tax breaks for the rich should be thrown into greater focus by the Yes Campaign, according to Mr Canavan.

“An independent Scotland would guarantee that Scotland would always be ruled by a government elected by the people and accountable to the people of Scotland – that would ensure the abolition of the bedroom tax and a fairer deal for people on low incomes.”

He said the Yes campaign could be “made more specific to the needs of people on particular issues.”

Mr Canavan has attended meetings the “length and breadth” of Scotland in his role over the past year.

“I think I have a fair idea now of what’s in the minds of the people of Scotland,” he said. “People are more concerned about things like the welfare system and the creation of a fair society than they are about the colour of the banknotes.”

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Chancellor George Osborne last week claimed Scottish bank­notes might disappear under independence and warned that the UK was unlikely to accept Mr Salmond’s plan to be part of a new sterling zone.

Independent MSP Ms MacDonald said the Yes campaign “needs to be bolder”, while Mr Harvie, of the Greens, said the First Minister was wrong to rule out the possibility of a separate Scottish currency.

Better Together’s YouGov poll also asked voters the key issue in the referendum. The economy was ranked most important, followed by tax and spending levels, and pensions and welfare.

It also asked people if they might change their view on independence if Scotland could not use the pound. Four per cent said it would make them more likely to vote for independence, while 19 per cent said it would make them less likely. SNP campaign director Angus Robertson said: “Polling already shows that a clear majority of Scots want all tax and spending, welfare and pensions to be decided by the Scottish Parliament.

“All this poll proves is that the No campaign is being led by what the Tory government says.”