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 654.

    Mr Darling, I for one will be voting for the "one-way ticket". I am completely sick of the neoliberalism forced on Scotland over the past 30 odd years by the Conservatives and New Labour. Scotland is better than that and does not wish to run its affairs for the benefit of a wealthy elite!

  • rate this

    Comment number 653.

    What cost to new Scotland the economic cost of closure of the naval shipyards at Rostyth and on the Clyde, the submarine base at Faslane and the RAF bases at Lossiemouth and Leicharr. Assets owned and/or output paid for by the British taxpayer. 10000 jobs perhaps?. Feel free to pay for their replacements with your new Scottish Pound ! cant see the Euro coping with another bail-out basket case..

  • rate this

    Comment number 652.

    585 The balance on truly independent views is that the tax/expenditure is basically break even. Oil/gas is overwhelmingly in Scottish waters by international laws (circa 90%) which would be used as arbiter.
    How debts, assets and everything else would be split no one knows, likely an independent arbitration process would be needed but since no discussions have been had it is all political spin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 651.

    I'd like to see the Union stay in tact.
    Though if all of us that aren't in London can have a vote whether we can jettison the London centric politicians and the fat cats and merchant bankers (cockney rhyming slang) of the Docklands, I think we'd have a Union still, just with less London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 650.

    Labour, Lib-Dems and Tories working together

    Edinburgh Trams?

  • rate this

    Comment number 649.

    "Imagine there's no countries
    It isn't hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for"

    We should be breaking down borders and boundaries and coming together as one, united species. Forget nationalism, forget politics. Lets just try to build a future together for the good of all mankind!

    "Some may say I'm a dreamer
    but I'm not the only one
    I hope some day you'll join us
    and the world will live as one"

  • rate this

    Comment number 648.


    Yup, doesn't bother me at all. Westminster basically owns RBS, so sell it off and reduce the UK deficit - great idea.

    You know, as well (disingenuous) what scrapping the banks would do - that's why the bailout in the first place. But selling off the shares is what this United Kingdom needs. Then the bank can sink or swim.

  • rate this

    Comment number 647.


    43 Minutes ago

    Maybe the reason Labour are so concerned and the Conservative are unconcerned is that without Scottish MP's, Labour dont have a hope at getting control at Westminster"

    Where do people get this myth from?????

    Labour had a majority in ENGLAND in all 3 of Blair's victories.

  • rate this

    Comment number 646.

    If UK is such a fine thing, and if we Scots are so welcome and wanted in the UK, why wouldn't we be allowed back in if independence failed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 645.

    If Shetland oil receipts go to Shetland people then I'm all for Independence.
    I expect it will go to Holyrood though, much as at the moment it goes to Westminster.

    Come on Salmond, 'fess up. What happens to Shetland oil?

  • rate this

    Comment number 644.

    Salmond say be like Norway, control oil fishing and farming. Except Norway's not in the EU. All that massive surplus he claims will be spent in Scotland - first thing the EU will do is grab it for the EU to give to the less well off (guess that'd be England since the oil revenues aren't flowing south). So revenues now go via Brussels who take their cut. And I thought you were going to be green.

  • rate this

    Comment number 643.

    Did anyone see the football last night!!!!

    4 - 2 on pens was it!!!

    Well don ITALY!!!

    Wonder if the plus or minus vote will win!!!..LOL

  • rate this

    Comment number 642.

    Shame on you, Mr Darling. Please do not threaten us nor lecture us on the question of whether our country should undo the mistake made 300 years ago. Neither threats nor patronising lectures are likely to make many friends for you in your home-country nor advance your cause.

  • rate this

    Comment number 641.

    Maybe the reason Labour are so concerned and the Conservative are unconcerned is that without Scottish MP's, Labour dont have a hope at getting control at Westminster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 640.

    Why is it that those opposing the continued interference of the Westminster based government in their affairs, restrict the solution solely to the benefit of Scotland?

    Surely the best solution would be to place the proposed chain link border fence just beyond the outer edge of the M25, thereby freeing a significantly larger population from the London centric State and their media symbionts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 639.

    All of the reasonable arguments for keeping Scotland a part of the United Kingdom Could be used as valid reasoning for the UK to become fully part of a wider united Europe. Being a part of a larger whole does, for Scotland, and would be a safer haven for all of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 638.

    605 steve - It would, if you make the simplistic mistake of assuming this is a matter Scots vs. English.
    It's not. Scottish people are equally as probable as being horrible & corrupt as the English, nationality is irrelevant.
    Only difference is, people in Scotland want to vote on whether we stay with these horrible & corrupt politicians, or whether we try to make it better for ourselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 637.

    The grass is very rarely greener on the other side,

  • rate this

    Comment number 636.

    75. Big John the Red
    "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."

    They also have free prescriptions, public utilities, regulated banking and a social conscience. No wonder they want to break away from Westminster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 635.

    Scrap the No vote. I want rid of Scotland. Let's see if you can really pay for the NHS, free parking, free prescriptions, free Universitites, heck, free everything on your own without subsidies from Westminster! The oil and gas in the North Sea are dwindling, what happens once they are gone? You'd be screwed. Na-na na-na, hey hey hey, goodbye Scotland!


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