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 854.

    I can understand Spanish concerns , but I am not sure if Scotland would have any problem joining the EU and the Euro , wont Germany want continuing help in bailing out the PIIGS? The contributions from England/Wales/NI (new UK) would presumably fall as they are based on GDP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 853.

    The english complaining about London/Westminster/SE rule - you are aware you get to vote for an MP for YOUR constituencey, right? and that assembly or parliament has to be somewhere, it just so happens that ours is in London?
    OK, because you're making it seem like you never had a vote and that wealth 'created' in London doesnt make it to the hard done by 'provinces'. Just saying

  • rate this

    Comment number 852.

    Since the debate got going the SNP has been on the back foot on every issue. The stupidity and lazines with which they have prepared their so called campaign is amazing. They have provided us with no answers and when faced with real questions on the EU, NATO, the £, immigration, energy and the NHS they have no answers how can anyone trust them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 851.

    If people really "aren't fussed" about us leaving the UK, can you all be quiet and let us decide what we want to do for ourselves?

    Personally, I'm currently undecided. Nearer the time I will do a proper investigate and decide what I think is best for our country. At the moment, I'm thinking any change is better than the mess we're all in now... At least then it's a different mess :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 850.

    Just been on the news. A man is handing out a flyer stating "UK taxpayers bailed out £470bn for Scottish banks."

    Fighting the positive angle, Darling?

  • rate this

    Comment number 849.

    Reply to 794. DarkVengeance89

    Regardless of whether Scotland was a founding member of "£Sterling" it is run and controlled by the Bank of England not Scotland, Scottish Banks have the rights to print currency under the control of the Bank of England.

    I never said that Scotland was weaker than England (economy), I said if it became the case (or vice versa).

    For the record I am Scottish

  • rate this

    Comment number 848.

    I think that more regional governments is a good thing and Scottish Independence will end the West Lothian Question for good. However, I'd like to see the Union institutions of Defence and Royalty continue. Everything else is better devolved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 847.

    How did Salmond get his first choice to lead the pro-union campaign?

  • rate this

    Comment number 846.

    If they wanna go let 'em go....i ain't bothered, small country, bitter people!

  • rate this

    Comment number 845.

    The only reason I se that Alistair wants to stay in the UK is so that he might get another chance of ruling England in Westminster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 844.

    I think the vote should be over the whole of the uk and not just scotland, maybe the rest of us dont want them to stay, there has been mention of the state benefit bill for the uk, there is also unemployment in Scotland, and as has been menitoned, they get free prescriptions, hospital parking, that others in the uk have to pay for, the rest of the uk may in the long run be better of without them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 843.

    That quote should actually read 'one way ticket to uncertainty'. I assume you chose to finish early in order to avoid the vast number of comments that would read in similar terms to this:

    No crap Sherlock, and just what isn't a ticket to uncertainty, do you have some magic prophecy machine?

  • rate this

    Comment number 842.

    'I'm a Scot and was opposed to Independence until I started reading the comments posted by our 'friends' south of the border'

    Just ignore them - they're no different to some of the comments posted from our 'friends' north of the border.

  • rate this

    Comment number 841.

    If the Scots vote for independence then so be it, both they and the rest of the UK will have to deal with the repercussions, whether good or bad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 840.

    It could be an opportunity to keep the bagpipes north of Adrian's Wall.

  • rate this

    Comment number 839.


    utter nonsense.....unemployement rate in is Scotland broadly similar to rest of UK; employment rate is actually higher...then again, why let facts get in the way of your racist views?

  • rate this

    Comment number 838.

    One of the by-products should Scotland vote for independence is that it would effectiveky become a one-party state as there would be no reason for the SNP to exist as having achieved their raison d'etre their other policies would be similar to Labour. Post independece there would be no need for 3 centre left parties so Labour would be in permanent power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 837.

    Matt - No probs with the English setting Scottish peoples rates eh?
    @798 - Most of London's GDP comes from UK wide companies filing their taxes there. In 2007 the combined Coporation Tax of RBS and HBOS was greater than that attributed to the whole of Scotland. Seems they are only Scottish banks when they aren't doing well eh.

    3 out of the top five UK cities in terms of GVA are in Scotland

  • rate this

    Comment number 836.

    It's all about power in numbers!!!

    If I had a referendum among myself about me being independent I can assure you there would be a 100% YES vote. So can I be my own nation? Pay me my taxes to govern myself? Why not?

    The ENTIRE debate is about politicians conning people out of their self determination and handing over power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 835.

    All this noise about Scots whining about the English is utter nonsense. I was a serving soldier for 23 years and the majority of my friends are English. My point is people stating on here that we receive handouts from the Government is hellish. It's the government we are against, not the people. All our revenue goes south for them to take their share and send us back the scraps.


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