Scottish independence: Call for 'truce' during Glasgow 2014

Lord McConnell Lord McConnell hopes campaigners will not use the Games for political gain

A former Scottish first minister has called on both sides of the independence debate to declare a "truce" during the Commonwealth Games.

Lord McConnell, known as Jack McConnell when he was an elected representative, said neither side should use Glasgow 2014 for political gain.

But First Minister Alex Salmond said it was "nonsensical" to suggest politics would overshadow the event.

A referendum on Scottish independence will be held on 18 September.

Voters will be asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Lord McConnell will explain his thinking on the issue during a House of Lords debate later.

The former Labour MSP and now Labour peer, told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "There is a genuine concern that there will be a temptation on both sides of this debate in the period of the Commonwealth Games, given the numbers around and the focus on Scotland, to engage in a continuing debate on the referendum campaign and therefore I think it would be wise, six months before the games, for both sides to say that they will agree a truce for that two week period.

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He continued his message: "Campaign relentlessly between now and then and of course afterwards, but for that two week period let's concentrate on Glasgow and Scotland and winning some gold medals for Scotland.

"I don't think it is a lot to ask both sides of politicians to lay off for that fortnight and to ensure that nobody involved in the Games be distracted or concerned by what they say and do and achieve might be either exploited or used by either side in the aftermath."

Mr Salmond told BBC Scotland's Glenn Campbell that the Games had been prepared on a cross-party basis and that there was no reason to doubt that continued approach.

In addition, Scotland's sports minister Shona Robison said she did not share Lord McConnell's concern that politicians would hijack the Games.

Ms Robison said: "Politicians of all persuasions across the debate will enjoy the Games, will be involved as appropriate but I don't think there is any willingness or desire to hijack the Games.

"What we all want is for it all to be a huge success for Scotland, we have invested a huge amount of time and resources in what will be Scotland's biggest sporting event we have ever had. Everyone wants it to be a success and that will be a sporting success."

She added: "The backdrop to the Games is that it has been achieved on a cross-party basis. That puts us in a very strong position to continue that cross party working right the way through the referendum. We have worked through a general election, through a Scottish election, through a local election and despite rigorous debate through those elections we still manage to sustain cross party working around the Games."

Meanwhile, the Law Society of Scotland has said both sides of the independence debate need to do more in 2014 to engage and inform voters.

It commissioned a poll from Ipsos Mori which indicated that only 14% of voters said they were "very well informed" about the issues being debated in the campaign so far.

Bruce Beveridge, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "This is an exciting and quite possibly pivotal time for Scotland. The importance of the question facing us in September, described as the biggest for our nation in 300 years, demands a thorough and worthy debate.

"This poll shows that, with only nine months to go, many Scots still do not feel properly informed.

"Over half say the debate is not covering the issues they care about. And as many as two thirds are finding it difficult to decide whether or not the information they are getting is true."

A Scottish government spokesman said it was important that both sides of the debate did as much as they could to "engage and inform voters in the run-up to the referendum".

He added that the government's White Paper set out the "transformational opportunities of independence for Scotland".

A Better Together spokesman said: "We are being asked to take one of the biggest decisions in Scottish history.

"The campaigns are working to get information out to people across the country about the impact of going it alone on our jobs, pensions and public services."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    To call the lies and smears emanating from the Bitter Together camp and promulgated with enthusiasm by the MSM a "debate" is quite disingenious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Is this possibly because the Commonwealth Games, followed by the Ryder Cup, will display the planning, dedication and execution that that the people of Scotland are more than capable of achieving in many other areas and will in turn raise national pride?

    It's funny that somebody from the Better Together camp might suggest such a thing?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I'd like Jack McConnell to come back to Scotland and do something for the people who supported his lifestyle for so long. So far in this badly reported referendum debate all of the advantages have been afforded to the unionist side by a compliant and disingenuous media. McConnell said nothing about the politicization of the London Olympics. Seems kind of hypocritical to me!

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    The future of Scotland is more important than a sporting event or even McConnells £300 a day expences and ermine cloak. The debate will be in full flow, and hopefully by then, Labour will explain why they voted against free school meals for poor weans and increased childcare yesterday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Jack's kidding himself if he thinks a truce wouldn't be broken the second a Scottish athlete won a medal. However, it would be his own side that would break it, with the No campaign somehow managing to work out that an athlete competing for Scotland rather than the UK was proof that we're "better together". The 1st sign of a saltire would have them going "the Yes campaign are trying to hijack it!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Salmond could not even have a truce for Wimbledon. However his brandishing of the saltire behind Cameron's head has brought him no credit in Scotland, quite the opposite.
    It is hard, no impossible , to believe that he will not seize every opportunity to promote his break-up Britain cause

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    I can't see how this would be remotely practical. The Games fall in the official three months of campaigning. Neither side is going to give up a quarter of that window of opportunity to launch their full media campaign. That said, the Games will be just fine. I can't fathom McConnell's thinking here at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    3. EuropeOK
    Nice idea, but sadly, this fight seems destined to turn nasty.

    As an Englishman with strong views on the issue, I've been following the twitter discussions of the last few weeks. Let's say I'm very concerned, especially about the increasing desperation of BT
    As a Scotsman I couldn't agree more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    It seems like the No campaign is trying to shut down any debate or discussion.. from Cameron running scared, or trying to ban street stalls.
    They know that the more informed voters become, the more likely they are to vote Yes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    What McConnell doesn't want is if (and it's a big IF) Scotland wins any medals and there is a feeling of scottish pride in the country, he doesn't want these people hearing about independance which may help sway them.

    Rather than truces, people just want to hear real facts about the vote rather than politically motivated "facts"

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    It would be a fair call if he also asked the same for the proposed period of first world war "celebrations" that the unionists will be cynically milking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Nice idea, but sadly, this fight seems destined to turn nasty.

    As an Englishman with strong views on the issue, I've been following the twitter discussions of the last few weeks. Let's say I'm very concerned, especially about the increasing desperation of BT

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    McConnell speaks for westminster.

    They don't want the independence issue to get any gains from the Games.

    Next we'll be told that waving Saltires at the games is banned in case people get the idea the Scotland is an actual country and not just a region of England.

    Go back to Malawi Jack. You're wanted there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    McConnell speaks for no one in Scotland and is only voicing his own opinion .


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