Scotland politics

Scottish Tory Party conference: Labour's Darling delivers pro-Union message

Alistair Darling and Annabel Goldie
Image caption Alistair Darling and Annabel Goldie both spoke at the Better Together fringe event at the Tory conference

Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling has addressed a fringe meeting of the Scottish Tory Party conference.

He was introduced by former Scottish Conservative Party leader Annabel Goldie and spoke in favour of keeping the Union intact.

The Tories and Labour are delivering the same anti-Scottish independence message.

Mr Darling appeared at the event organised by pro-Union group Better Together, which he is chairman of.

The people of Scotland will take part in a Scottish independence referendum on Thursday, 18 September 2014. They will be asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?".

Former Tory leader Annabel Goldie said: "I understand Alistair attending the Conservative conference is a bit like me leading the Bolshoi ballet: unexpected.

"The SNP are trying to make political capital out of his attendance - Labour in cahoots with the Tories - but the SNP has underlined how important the UK is and how powerful an advocate Better Together has become."

She acknowledged the parties' political differences but said on the issue of keeping the UK together "Alistair is my darling".

She also suggested Mr Darling's late great uncle Sir William Darling, a former Tory MP for Edinburgh South, was "looking down benignly like a friendly spirit".

Mr Darling said: "One thing that has struck me since I stepped down from frontline politics is just how nice your opponents are about you once they're absolutely sure you're not coming back.

"Whether or not my great uncle is looking down on me I don't know, but I will resist the temptation to point out that he was indeed a Tory MP in the days when the Conservatives actually won seats in Edinburgh. I think he will be on my side of the argument today."

Image caption Alistair Darling addressed the Better Together event

Mr Darling outlined his argument that the UK benefits Scotland through providing a strong voice in Europe, a combined armed forces, a single market, jobs, cultural ties and a shared energy market.

He criticised the SNP's plan to keep the pound, arguing that it will require the political union that the nationalists are trying to destroy.

A shared currency would also render the SNP's plan to undercut UK corporation tax by 3% impossible, he said.

He added: "The nationalists only need to win once by one vote and there is no going back, so that is why we need to win this campaign and win it well.

"We also need to pose questions to the nationalists. When you ask them questions they say you're being negative, or scaremongering.

"The definition of scaremongering is asking Alex Salmond a question he doesn't know how to answer."

Mr Darling's appearance was greeted by about 400 nationalist and anti-"bedroom tax" protesters outside the conference, complaining about his alliance with the Tories and Labour leader Ed Miliband's stance on the spare room subsidy.

Protesters waved banners branding Mr Darling "The Abominable No Man".

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