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.

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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 594.

    There seems to be some disagreement about the opinions being promoted by the BBC, personally speaking it seems as if they are promoting a pro-independence stance.

    Which is odd as devolution will mean the end of the BBC, which is great as English licence fee payers will no longer have to subsidise BBC Scotland (only 9% of the population but they receive 16% of BBC spending).

  • rate this

    Comment number 593.

    I am a Scot who was born British and will die British. I will never accept Scottish Citizenship and never apply for a Scottish passport. If I say what I feel about Salmond and his nationalist henchmen, this post would not be published. So I'll just say I will vote against independence, but I fear the snp will try to fix the result by fudging the question and lying to the voters. It's what they do.

  • Comment number 592.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 591.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 590.

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

    Darling wrong again - when Scots get independence and find themselves poorer - they'll all come sneaking across Hadrians Wall to steal our jobs, bens, etc as they've always raided for many centuries.

    Scottish Independence is inevitable following Labour govts cowardly appeasement of Scot. Nats. with 'botched devolution'

  • rate this

    Comment number 589.

    Nobody knows if it will be good, or bad for the people of Scotland or the rest of the UK. All you hear is spin from either side. The only way to find out is to live the SNP "Dream" of Independence. I would rather go for it and find it was not all it was cracked upto be than to keep the status quo and always wonder "what if ?". You regret the things you do not do, rather than the things you do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 588.

    In 1707, the people of Scotland were betrayed by a very small minority of land owners who had their mouths stuffed with English gold. The result was a country ruined by theft and a people starved into supplying soldiers for the English Empire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 587.

    Independence is fine, staying in is fine. Devo-max? Forget it.
    Let the Scots decide what they want to do, but no more bribes, no more paying them to help out politics south of the border.

  • rate this

    Comment number 586.

    Here we go, the scare stories coming from the Unionists. Lets get something straight, the SNP Government has done a FAR BETTER JOB for Scotland than ANY STUCK UP UNIONIST has or/and will ever do. The Wasteminster Government has tried time and again to hamstring the Scots Government and FAILED, for example cutting the Scots budget by around 30% or so.

    Slàinte mhor a h-uile là a chi 's nach fhaic

  • rate this

    Comment number 585.

    I want to know what would happen if scotland got independence, what is the true tax/expense balance? How much of the oil fields would Scotland get? how much of the uk deficite would they get?
    No amount of googling can give me a true balanced view, all are tainted by "this is best" But all are just as vague.

    Everyone giving an opinion on this forum is doing so based on lies..from both sides!

  • rate this

    Comment number 584.

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

    The No campaign kicks off as it will continue - trying to seed fear in the minds of voters. What is the positive case for the Union ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 583.

    Scotland is not massive it is 5 million people about same as Yorkshire, so it will need to have close economic ties with many countries as all succesful nations should especially the smaller ones.

    My worry is when both sides patriotism converts to nationalism, you get the extremes and clashes, it seems to be heading this way which benefits nobody.

  • rate this

    Comment number 582.

    @554 Penguin

    The Shetland team drew with the Faroes the last time they played! And beat them 5-1 in their first ever 'International'.

    That's something else you will hear in the Lounge Bar on a Friday evening if you ever make it up here.

    Ad nauseum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 581.

    Independence - very emotive. Breaking free from the shackles of oppression from Westminster - again, very idealistic. But, currency, healthcare, education, taxes, debts, defence, EU membership? The reality is it'll be very difficult and emotion should be removed.
    its all very well deriding England and the English and extolling independence, but think about the reality

  • rate this

    Comment number 580.

    One needs only to look at the Republic of Ireland to understand what may happen to Scotland. Scotland may be denied entry to the Euro at present and Britain may refuse it the pound so it may have to change entirely.

    Also the North sea oil belongs to Great Britain - if Scotland leaves it will have to buy it or lose it. Good luck without it.

  • Comment number 579.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 578.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    Westminster Dictatorship Club has been acting as scaremonger. If we had a real democracy in England, MPs would have said; best of luck with your referendum, and wish you a prosperous future if you choose independence. At any time if you change your mind and want to re-establish union with England, undoubtedly will be on your side. We can’t hear such statement from England because of dictators.

  • rate this

    Comment number 576.

    I'm English, and I want England to leave Westminster as well! I hope like crazy the Scots don't go, but if they do I can't say I'd blame them.

    Meanwhile I get stuck with a bunch of chancers to whom Party Politics and 'the personality' is more important than delivering on promises. I vote for the policy, not for the man / woman.

    Politics in the UK is busted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    Scottish people should be the only ones commenting on whether they have independence or not. The problem is that the SNP, and Alex Salmond in particular, do not want independence. They want DEVO MAX, and this is NOT just a vote for Scotland. Every person in the UK have a right to vote on this. Scotland cannot decide that everyone else has to pay more for them in isolation.


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