Better Together, the pro UK campaign launches in Edinburgh

The campaign to keep Scotland within the UK launched on Monday in Edinburgh. Led by former Chancellor, Alistair Darling, it aims to “promote the view that Scotland is a better and stronger country as part of the United Kingdom”. The name of the campaign, Better Together, is positive and deliberately does not include the word “no”.

There were keynote speeches from Darling and a finale by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, but the stage was mainly given over to a selection of ordinary people who took to the stage to explain why they wanted Scotland to stay in the Union. Some of them are in this video, the Best of Both Worlds, also available here on You Tube.

Alex Salmond, as reported in the Independent,  was quick to denounce what he called a Tory-led campaign (in fact it has 3 Labour directors, 1 Lib Dem and a Tory) spouting negative language:

 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.

A conventional understanding of  independence would be that dividing up the union would create borders and surely even the biggest fan of independence doesn’t think it could be done smoothly and overnight?

It’s also pretty clear that Salmond’s critique was not based on anything Darling actually said. Nationalists on Twitter were quick to denounce Darling’s comments for saying Scotland was too wee, too stupid to go it alone. This is what the former Chancellor actually said:

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.

While Yes Scotland launched with a series of monologues, mainly by rich men, in a dingy cinema, as I wrote at the time, Better Together made its debut in a modern lecture theatre with a view onto lush greenery with a diverse range of ordinary Scots. While Yes Scotland’s digital side had its moments – not least stealing me and implying I supported them – Better Together’s website is much more easy to use and, I think, more attractive. Edinburgh Eye, who is a neutral voice, has done a comparison of the two campaigns’ approaches to Twitter which is quite telling. You can also catch up with the campaign on Facebook and Google Plus.

Willie Rennie speaks at Better Together launch (credit: G Littlejohn)

Willie Rennie’s final remarks were typically motivating:

We will take nothing for granted. In the campaign to keep our family together, we will work for every vote. Our opponents will be determined. They are passionate about their cause and will work to win. But I am determined that we will lead a campaign that will match them, and more, with our passion and our effort.

For every supporter here this morning, watching online, following on twitter or however you hear this message I have a task for you.

When you wake up each day I want you to ask what you will do this day to keep Scotland stronger in a united kingdom. You could raise funds, deliver leaflets, answer the phones, tweet or whatever you can do.

There’s a long way to go until the Scottish people make their choice, likely to be in the Autumn of 2014. The two campaigns are now up and running. Polling shows that the Nationalists have some way to go to persuade a majority of Scots that independence is the way to go, with the latest poll showing just 35% in favour, down since the campaign was launched.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Typically there was no mention of what Scotland would look like in the aftermath of a no vote. None of the unionist parties are willing to be straight with the Scottish people about what a no vote would mean.

    The truth is that it would be taken by many English politicians in all the unionist parties as a green light to rob Scotland of its resources and to diminish Scotland’s standing. We know this from the repercussions after the March 1979 referendum. In the following decade Scotland was robbed of its oil revenues, had its manufacturing base destroyed, became a dumping ground for nuclear weapons and nuclear waste and became the testing guinea pig for unwanted schemes such as the poll tax.

    A no vote would plunge Scotland into a period of turmoil, uncertainty and decline at the mercy of events in London – a sharp contrast to independence where the future would be in Scotland’s own hands. Let’s make it a bright liberal future founded on freedom by supporting independence!

  • Peter Andrews 27th Jun '12 - 11:04pm

    Or a no vote would simply mean Scotland continued to largely manage its own affairs through its devolved government whilst remaining part of the UK.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 28th Jun '12 - 8:15am

    Al, in 1979 the will of the people was denied – and Labour were as much to blame as the Tories for that. The situation is very much different. There is no evidence that a majority of people want independence for Scotland. A no vote would mean that the further and substantive devolution of powers in the Scotland Act expertly steered through a political minefield by Liberal Democrat Secretary of State Michael Moore.

    A no vote would mean the best of both worlds for Scotland – making most of its domestic decisions itself with work to build a consensus for greater powers to be devolved to and from Holyrood while getting the rewards and opportunities of remaining in the UK. What’s not to love?

  • “What’s not to love?”

    Off the top of my head, and in no particular order…

    Tory governments. Labour governments that can only get elected by pretending to be Tory governments. Overseas wars. Paying for nuclear weapons that can never be used and conventional weapons that are used all too often. Poisonous relations with Europe. The Daily Mail. People who read the Daily Mail. The House of Commons. The House of Lords. The Royal Family. The City of London. The British so-called constitution. FPTP elections. The dismantling of the welfare state. The commodification of everything from education to culture. The largest wealth gap in Europe. Nostalgia for The Empire.

  • coldcomfort 29th Jun '12 - 5:16pm

    I hope that Scotland does stay in the Union. Nationalism really has no place in the modern world when so many things on which our children & grandchildren depend transgress national borders. But emotionally I have a soft spot for the idea of English independence from Scotland. We have far too many Scots in the UK Government, far too many Scots MPs representing English constituencies, far too many Scots running English football teams etc. I won’t go on ! !

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