Scottish independence: Salmond in Darling interview apology call

Alistair Darling Mr Darling was interviewed by New Statesman editor Jason Cowley

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has called for the leader of the campaign for the Union to apologise in a row over a New Statesman interview.

Better Together's Alistair Darling had been accused of using a Nazi slogan to describe the campaign for independence.

The magazine subsequently said Mr Darling had not used the phrase.

However, Mr Salmond said the release of an audio recording of the interview meant there was now "substantial uncertainty" over what had been meant.

A spokesman for Better Together responded: "Only the nationalists could ask someone to apologise for something that they never said. Alistair did not use this phrase and neither would he."

The New Statesman initially quoted Mr Darling as saying the SNP was "at heart . . . blood-and-soil nationalism", but later said the former chancellor had not used the phrase.

In the audio recording, which was published by the magazine, Mr Darling says "at heart" after being asked: "What is it? blood and soil nationalism?"

The term "blood-and-soil" ('Blut und Boden') is German in origin and became associated with the Nazis.

Clarity needed

Mr Salmond told the BBC: "There's now substantial uncertainty, to put it at the very least, just exactly what Alasdair Darling described the "Yes" campaign as.

"It now seems that he did indeed make phrases and suggestions which linked, in some way, the 'Yes' campaign to slogans that were used in Nazi Germany.

"I think the leader of the 'No' campaign should now apologise for that, should clarify what he said, because what we say at the top of the campaign is of fundamental importance in making sure that the rest of the campaign is conducted on a proper level."

During his interview with New Statesman editor Jason Cowley. Mr Darling also likened Mr Salmond to former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il.

'National identity'

The audio recording starts with Mr Cowley saying: "But Salmond has somehow very successfully redefined the SNP as a a civic nationalism of a kind that.."

He is interrupted by Mr Darling, who says: "Which it isn't".

Mr Cowley then says: "Well that's what he says it is. Why do you say it isn't?"

new statesman Salmond The interview was featured on the front page of the New Statesman

As Mr Darling begins to respond, Mr Cowley can be heard asking him: "What is it? blood and soil nationalism?"

Mr Darling replies: "At heart . . . And the reason . . . If you ask any nationalist is there any circumstances in which you would not vote for independence, separation, the answer's got to be 'no' because it is about people who define themselves by their national identity.

"That is what it is at heart. Now he is trying to put a gloss on it saying 'look, we are a progressive force, part of civic society' - this is the same SNP government that has cut 100,000 college places which mostly went to people on low incomes.

"If you look at the local government cuts they've made, it is people on low incomes who have suffered for it. The only redistributive measure in the White Paper was to cut corporation tax.

"Their argument was that Scotland, people in Scotland, were inherently better and more broad minded than their brothers and sisters south of the border."

Kim Jong-il

The audio released by the New Statesman does not include Mr Darling's comments about Mr Salmond and Kim Jong-il.

The magazine quoted Labour MP Mr Darling as saying: "He (Alex Salmond) said on the BBC that people voted UKIP in Scotland because English TV was being beamed into Scotland.

"This was a North Korean response. This is something that Kim Jong-il would say. And this is the same BBC for which we all pay our licence fee, and we all enjoy the national output as well as the Scottish output."

Kim Jong-il, who became the communist dictator of North Korea in 1994, presided over one of the world's most reclusive and oppressive societies until his death in 2011.

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