Scottish independence: Alistair Darling warns of 'no way back'


Former chancellor Alistair Darling launches the Better Together campaign

Former UK chancellor Alistair Darling has launched the bid to keep the Union, saying there will be no way back from Scottish independence.

He compared independence to buying "a one-way ticket to send our children to a deeply uncertain destination".

Mr Darling argued Scotland could have the "best of both worlds", with a strong parliament at Holyrood and a secure place in the United Kingdom.

The Scottish government is planning an independence referendum in autumn 2014.

The SNP-led campaign for independence - Yes Scotland - got under way last month.

Launching the cross-party Better Together campaign in Edinburgh - which involves Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives - Mr Darling said that Scotland, through family, economic and cultural friendship, was stronger in the UK.

He said he believed that Scotland was facing a crucial vote.

Mr Darling explained: "When Scotland votes in the referendum, we will face a historic choice which will shape our country and our families' futures, not just for the lifespan of a parliament, but for generations to come.

Start Quote

The parade of citizens - some spoke of their hopes. Others of their fears. Above all, they spoke of Scottish patriotism, of their delight when Scotland succeeds on the sporting field or anywhere else.”

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"Chairing this campaign, is one of the most important things I have ever done in politics - the decision we make is the most important we will make in our lifetime."

The Labour politician added: "We make a positive case for staying together. A positive case that celebrates not just what makes us distinctive but also celebrates what we share.

"We put the positive case for staying together. We are positive about our links with the rest of the United Kingdom, through families and friendships, through trade and through shared political, economical and cultural institutions.

"We're positive about being a proud nation within a larger state and the far wider range of opportunities for our people that this creates.

"We're positive about all of the identities that we share - Scottish, British, European, citizens of the world - and don't see the need to abandon any of them."

After Mr Darling's address, a promotional video was played featuring 40 people who said they backed the pro-Union campaign.

A number of those advocates were then interviewed by former Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie and Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale.

Labour, Tory and Lib Dem politicians Labour, Tory and Lib Dem politicians were united at the launch

Scotland's Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, who gave the final address of the launch, told the gathering: "Your decision is not really just for you, it's for future generations too - it is a big responsibility to make a decision about what legacy you want to leave for future generations.

"But it is a decision that we will take together - throughout this campaign, you will hear why we are safer, stronger and better together - you will hear from all three parties here today but more importantly you'll hear from individuals like the people here today.

"From every corner and every community in Scotland we will take nothing for granted in the campaign to keep our family together, we will work for every single vote."

'Exposed as a fraud'

Responding to the Better Together campaign launch, SNP leader and First Minister Alex Salmond said Mr Darling's "threadbare" case against independence was "exposed by the weakness of his arguments, and his presentation suffered from three devastating failures".

He explained: "Firstly, he claimed that the Union was a 'celebration' of Scottish values, on the very day that the Prime Minister of that political union is proposing to eliminate housing benefit for young Scots.

"Secondly, the anti-independence campaign's claim to be making a positive case has been exposed as a fraud. 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.

leaflets The Better Together campaign is launching a series of leaflets making the case for keeping Scotland in the union.

"Thirdly, Alistair Darling said not a single word about the anti-independence campaign's alternative vision of more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

"That is because - at heart - this is a Tory-led campaign, which is intent on conceding nothing to the people of Scotland. Alistair Darling is operating as the frontman for a Tory-led campaign."

The Better Together launch came as half-a-million leaflets were handed out at train stations, setting out the case for keeping Scotland in the UK, while a new website went live on Monday.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    The Scots run Westminster anyway so whats the problem

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    How I wish I could take away the Braveheart Brigade's megaphone,but I'm sure the quiet sensible majority of us here in Scotland will not vote for this nonsense.I am not going to say that Salmond makes me feel ashamed to be Scottish,but he does not,and never will,speak for me.-and I am apalled at the naivety of some of the Scottish bigotry rearing its ugly head on this site.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Aww, what's the matter Darling, the thought of standing on your own two feet just too much to cope with? Scotland's subsidised England long enough - we're well able to stand proud on our own without being hindered by England. Take a deep breath, you can do it alone - WE WILL!

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    @75 Big Red John

    Absolutely, thanks for your acknowledgement of Scotland's unique and highly regarded academic history - which came to the fore during the Scottish Englishtenment when Scotland became the first literate country in Europe.

    Largely facilitated by the Act of Union and stability within the UK:

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Independence isn't about glorious isolation. The EU will come for you Scotland. The IMF will hunt you down. The markets will apply irresistible power. And that lovely parliament that cost the BRITISH almost half a billion to build and more than 70 million a year to run will be worthless

    I know you hate the English, but let us be united by our even greater hatred of Brussels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    The No campaign is long overdue, I am sick of the contradicting nonsense of the SNP on Scots independence. The SNP talk of independence but they are just using it as political power grab. If independence is so important, why are they offering Scotland only other currencies, £ or €, not a Scots currency? Why is the SNP so keen to get DEVO MAX on the referendum ballot? Independence is SNP junk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg all support the same policy.
    Further comment is not needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    The ghastly Holyrood Parliament Building
    The Edinburgh trams fiasco
    Samond and the Chinese Consul Gemeral
    The collapse of RBS
    The mess of the Curriculum for Excellence
    Alex Salmond in his trews

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Having lived in Scotland, England and Wales, not only do I think Scots independence is a bad idea, I would scrap the assemblies altogether. Its a job creation scheme for political classes, and has little relevance to ordinary people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    More misleading soundbites and negative campaigning playing on fears rather than facts. What we want is to have the facts and figures laid out before us. To have a measured and grown-up debate without untruths, half truths and downright lies.

    Here's a warning to the government...if you conduct a negative, scaremongering campaign with no evidence to back it up, I'll be voting YES!

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    There is no Union between Scotland and Britain, there is delusion. Scotland is a captured Nation living under captivity of England. Instead of allowing Scotland going for endless referendums England should make a swift step and grant freedom to Scotland and then invite Scotland to start negotiation to create a Union with England. We might even then have a one parliament and elected Monarch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Send the British government to the Isle of man to rule from there, geographically the perfect spot for a British government. independence from tyranny for all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    I think such a massive decision on the future of a our union should involve everyone. I wouldn't be surprised if Scotland had its independence voted on its behalf. I for one am all for "kicking them out" now that they are throwing their toys out the pram. We were happy to stay with you but as far as I'm concerned Scotland, you're now dead to me now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    The No Campaign - 'Better Together, Debtor Together'. ..
    Vote no to leave your children and grandchildren in debt fueled poverty and paying bilillions upon billions for nuke wmd whilst education and health is privatised and the weakest in society attacked by govts Scotland rejects

    Vote for your aspirations not for your fears

    Vote Yes to Independence and a prosperous Scotland

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    @70.Ralphonzo Dinner-Jacket We will still be British to be British is to live on the island of britian scotland all ways will be british simple geography can tell you that. Scotland is a founder of the pound so can use it as it is our currency and he has never said anything about having the same armed forces we don’t want blood spilled in illegal wars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    A clear majority of Scots reject the status quo - the present devolution is not enough. However, slightly more want 'devo max' rather than independence, and nationalists wouldn't grieve too much over that. . So why don't the unionist parties push that as an option? What's wrong with allowing people democracy? As Henry McLeish said:'If you want Scots in the Union, give them the Union they want.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Thanks, but no thanks Darling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    The EU will back the independence vote - Divide and conker.

    but to quash some of the ill informed comments.

    Just because RBS has Scotland in its title does not make it Scottish any more than calling BP British because of the name, its down only to who holds the shares

    To those calling Westminster a dictatorship - look the word up in a dictionary along with democracy and vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    When Salmond is entertaining Murdoch , or taking £20m of Neeps and Fish to China and coming back with £200m of plastic Toys
    ,------------- he says its all about "Scottish Jobs " .
    This is why his popularity is declining , mention a "Job " and many Scots get a panic attack

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    I think it is we English who are terrified that the Scot’s “Just may make a fist of this.”
    They have:
    1) World-class Universities.
    2) An excellent education system.
    3) Science and Engineering is in their blood.
    I have worked with world class Scottish software teams.
    Most the Scot’s I meet are just fed up with being the guinea pigs of Westminster.


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