Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Blair Jenkins named Yes Scotland chief

Blair Jenkins
Blair Jenkins has spent much of his working life in journalism and the media

Former BBC news chief Blair Jenkins is to run the official campaign to gain independence for Scotland.

He has been named chief executive of the Yes Scotland group, ahead of the referendum expected in autumn 2014.

The campaign, Mr Jenkins said, would be run with "discipline and integrity". He wants the debate to be free from "Punch 'n' Judy confrontations".

The 55-year-old formerly served as head of news and current affairs for both BBC Scotland and STV.

Yes Scotland also announced the former Labour MP and independent MSP Dennis Canavan will chair its advisory board, with its membership and remit due to be announced in the next few days.

The appointment of Mr Jenkins came after the launch of Yes Scotland a few weeks ago.

Mr Jenkins said: "For more than 30 years, my professional life has been about impartial journalism.

"I'm not a member of any party and I've never engaged in any form of political activity - but this is just too important.

"This is a once-in-a lifetime campaign for me, personally, and for the people of Scotland.

"They will be asked to make the most important decision for the future of our nation in more than 300 years and I am totally committed to ensuring they have the best possible information to help them make the right choice."

Mr Jenkins said Yes Scotland, to be headquartered in Glasgow, would be "represented and supported by people from across the political spectrum and none", and "will not be dominated by party politics".

He added: "I am determined the Yes campaign will be run with passion, discipline and integrity and our guiding principle will be to provide high quality information to the greatest number of Scots so that they can make an informed choice in 2014.

"Now that both sides have launched their campaigns, I sincerely hope we can have a sensible and mature debate free from Punch 'n' Judy confrontations - I want to run a campaign that all of Scotland can be proud of."

Mr Jenkins, who is also a fellow of the Carnegie UK Trust, a visiting professor of Journalism at Strathclyde University and a governor of Glasgow School of Art, is stepping back from all his other commitments to focus on the Yes Scotland campaign.

The referendum is being held after the SNP's landslide election win at last year's Scottish elections.

Mr Canavan added: "I very much look forward to working with Blair Jenkins who has the skills, experience and commitment to meet the challenge ahead."

Several senior executive positions in the Yes Scotland team are being advertised in the next few weeks.

Scottish Labour welcomed what they called "the first relaunch of the separation campaign".