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 874.

    853.Simple Simon
    "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'."

    I agree - they make their situation sound comparable to that of South Sudan's oppression from Khartoum. It's getting boring!

  • rate this

    Comment number 873.

    It may have escaped your notice, but Scotland already accounts for its own Health and Education, for which is paid out of the block grant that comes from Scottish taxpayers via the UK treasury. In addition Scotland contributes more to Defence than is actually spent in Scotland

  • rate this

    Comment number 872.

    Most powers have already been devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Even with the few that have not been devolved such as welfare it will able to vary them. Post independence. Immigration, monetary, fiscal, DVLA, head of state and others will have to be integrated. What is the point?

  • rate this

    Comment number 871.

    Let the Scots have independence if they want it.

    But real independence, we close the borders, ban/export Scottish workers, put tariffs on Scottish goods, do not accept Scottish currency, no grants bailouts etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 870.

    Comment number 841 is an Editors' Pick

    "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".

    Gee - I sure am glad to lack the deep philosophical insight of BBC editors.

    One despairs... at all things 'British'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 869.

    I hate this Tory Government
    I hated Thatcher's Tory Government.
    Thatcher's Government is no more.
    Cameron's Government will not last for ever.
    The break-up of the UK will last for ever and be irrevocable, and like jumping off a cliff, you can't leap back when you see the hard rocks coming towards you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 868.

    815.Edward2010 said "Scotland will have 97% of Oil and gas Fields. For the debt they will take 8% of UK debt and will take 8% of ALL UK assets (thats includes the BBC) Trust this helps."

    You are in the cake and eat it SNP camp. If it is right for Scotland to have 8% of all UK assets, then by definition, the remain UK would get 92% of the oil and gas, not 0%.

  • rate this

    Comment number 867.

    Anyone but Murray
    2 Minutes ago

    An independence vote has nothing to do with hatred but simply self determination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 866.

    In the early 1990's, IBM nearly went bust, partly due to being broken up, bits sold off etc...
    Fortunately, a new CEO arrived who reversed the slide with a simple motto "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts".

    Devolution may have achieved some measure of independence, but also more layers of bureaucracy, for what tangible benefit?

    Independence won't happen. DevoMax might: yet more cost

  • rate this

    Comment number 865.

    Sorry to hear that - but for many years I have been appalled at the rapidly growing levels of Racism to the English in Scotland. The SNP are simply the phyisical manifestation of all that hate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 864.

    Not one wholeheartedly Pro-Union comment selected for 'Editor's Picks'.

    The BBC don't even try to conceal their bias anymore."

    I'd suggest you take a crash course in English comprehension and then re-read the posts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 863.

    Caught again by the polemic, people arguing about which slave master is best. Be your own sovereign as much as possible, take back power both personally and locally and forget about these shiester politicians. They all went to the same few schools, most belong to the same clubs and secret societies and are pitching for the same corporate directorships and future careers. They lie for a living!

  • rate this

    Comment number 862.

    "English voters should have the right to vote in the Scottish independence refernendum in case there are not enough Scots in favour of independence"

    like the EU should vote if the UK wished to leave? The reasons for one applies as equally to the other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 861.

    Since this whole issue concerns the break up of the Union, where is the English, Welsh and N Irish vote? Why are both the No and Yes campaigns focusing on just Scotland? Answer to both - because yet again the majority counts for nothing. To all politicians - dont be surprised when nationalism and hatred breaks out south of the border.

  • rate this

    Comment number 860.

    Total Mass Retain 'A line of latitude may leave 97% in Scottish waters but a perpendicular from the shoreline, which most rational people would agree to, gives a rather different result.'

    Except rational people wouldn't. Rational people would go with Maritime convention and the Law of the Sea, which gives 90%+ of the oil and gas fields to Scotland.

  • rate this

    Comment number 859.

    If Scotland were to get devo max, plus or whatever this would in effect mean an English Parliament would have to happen and the UK become a federal state. I would suggest in that event base the English Parliament in the north of England to help the economy here and then have a UK elected replacing the lords and put that in Glasgow with equal rep for 4 home nations like US senate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 858.

    I for one support the idea that our Scottish Neighboors get the oppertunity to vote for independance, and completely understand why they are doing it. Personally I am just waiting for the rest of us English "Northerners" to follow suit. It does seem that after London has finished pillaging the coffers, the treasurary runs out of money a thrid of the way up the M1.

    I'm joking of course...I think

  • rate this

    Comment number 857.

    The scots have a one off opportunity to create a truely democratic, well funtioning, country. Entrenched interests in London effectively make the UK a banana republic run for the benefit of bankers. If they can get out, set taxes properly, launch their own currency and invest inwards they could opt out of the coming dark age.

  • rate this

    Comment number 856.

    English voters should have the right to vote in the Scottish independence refernendum in case there are not enough Scots in favour of independence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 855.

    Not one wholeheartedly Pro-Union comment selected for 'Editor's Picks'.

    The BBC don't even try to conceal their bias anymore.


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