Scottish Independence: Charles Kennedy calls for No to be positive

charles kennedy Charles Kennedy said a negative approach would not resonate with voters

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has called for No campaigners to be "more positive" ahead of the referendum on Scottish Independence.

The Highland MP said a negative approach from Better Together would not resonate with voters.

He also warned supporters of the Union that interventions by UK government ministers could be counterproductive.

Mr Kennedy called for a "more coherent blueprint" on further devolution to be agreed before September's vote.

Next week, Mr Kennedy hangs up his robes after six years representing the students as Rector of the University of Glasgow.

For the next three years, that seat will be empty following the election of American whistleblower Edward Snowden as Mr Kennedy's successor - Snowden currently has temporary asylum in Russia.

In an interview to mark the end of his term as rector, Mr Kennedy decided not to lecture his opponents but to offer advice to fellow supporters of Scotland's place in the United Kingdom.

charles kennedy glasgow university Charles Kennedy has been rector of Glasgow University for six years

When asked about the charge of "negativity" in the No campaign, Mr Kennedy said: "I've made that criticism. I think that we should be more positive in terms of the way in which those of us on the Better Together side are putting over our key messages.

"I think we're right to ask the pertinent questions, of course.

"But if you take, for example, the recent figures on the state of the Scottish economy, the decline in the oil revenues and so on and so forth, I'm not sure that the right response to that from our point of view is to say 'there we are, we told you so, Scotland could never go it alone'.

Start Quote

I don't think that the Scots will feel bullied. I think that the national instinct, if you like, is more 'who are they to come up here and tell us what to do?', which is a different mindset.”

End Quote Charles Kennedy

"I'm not sure that's a resonance that you can establish with the people and I'm not sure it's the right one anyway."

What about the accusation of "bullying" made by the Scottish government and others following UK chancellor George Osborne's speech ruling out a currency union?

Mr Kennedy said: "I don't think that the Scots will feel bullied.

"I think that the national instinct, if you like, is more 'who are they to come up here and tell us what to do?', which is a different mindset.

"I think it's 'we'll make our own mind up, thank you very much'."

After Prime Minister David Cameron told the Tory Conference in Edinburgh that a "No" vote could mean further devolution, Mr Kennedy thinks a more-powers offer should be agreed by the pro-Union parties before Scots go to the polls.

He said: "I think it would be better if we had a more coherent blueprint to put to people, to say, 'voting "No" means "Yes" to this distinct proposition', as opposed to, well, something that will be worked out in due course.

"Because then you're open to exactly the accusation that we're making of the other side."

Mr Kennedy said he did not rule out seeking election to Holyrood in the event of a "Yes" vote but he insisted his attention was on the European elections, next year's Westminster general election and, of course, on the referendum this autumn.

Campaign responses

Responding to the interview, Sarah-Jane Walls of the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign said: "Mr Kennedy's suggestion that the 'No' parties agree a position on more powers for Holyrood before Scotland goes to the polls in September may be well-meant, but it's also naive and wishful thinking.

"The anti-independence parties cannot agree internally; the chances of them agreeing something together is nil."

She continued: "The only way Scotland will gain the extra powers it needs is with independence."

A spokesman for the pro-Union Better Together campaign said: "What can be more positive than a campaign that is based on working together with family, friends and colleagues across the UK to address the challenges we face?

"Only the nationalists want to create division by walking away from the UK.

"We will continue to make the positive case, but we will also continue to ask the difficult questions about what leaving the UK would mean for Scottish families."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 857.

    @ 831. Five Stars

    As a psychologist you'll be more than familiar with the K├╝bler Ross model for change?

    What stage would you say rUK's at just now?

    Looking at the pledges for nebulous "more powers" that are appearing daily (despite lines in the sand etc) and cross-party pre-negotiations, I'd say "Bargaining".

    Would you agree?

  • rate this

    Comment number 856.

    855 Five Stars - I agree, but currently we only have centre-right parties in Westminster. Labour have long since abandoned any sense of socialism. I'm concerned that the SNP are the only sane choice in Scotland at the moment.

    Ruth Davidson recently said she'd stand in an independent Scotland, and I think Scottish Tories would do far better when not tied to the toxic London-based ones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 855.

    852.Drunken Hobo
    To be honest, I'm not that partisan. For me there needs to be a real choice between left and right to get any decent government. That would be my biggest concern for an independent Scotland, a lack of a centre right party.
    Sometimes you have to make the tough decisions and I'm not sure Labour can,

  • rate this

    Comment number 854.

    MrN, That's a point a lot of people are missing; that many of us Scots - the majority, according to the polls - don't want independence and will be voting no.

  • rate this

    Comment number 853.


    Actually I'm a Scot too.


Comments 5 of 857


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