Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Alistair Darling calls on young people to vote 'No'

Alistair Darling Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Darling addressed an audience of young people at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh

The head of the pro-Union Better Together campaign has called on young people to reject Scottish independence.

Alistair Darling told young voters in Edinburgh independence was a "one way ticket" and said the SNP had failed to answer key questions.

But the SNP's leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson, said Mr Darling's speech was "poor and panicky".

He accused Mr Darling of "hastily reacting to the fact that the Yes campaign have the momentum".

On 18 September, voters in Scotland will be asked the straight yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Mr Darling told the gathering of young people at the Royal College of Surgeons that the impact of the referendum decision would be felt by future generations, and urged them not to "give up the opportunities and the security of being part of something bigger".

He said: "Few things bring home the seriousness of the referendum more than the fact that the choice we make will not just affect my generation, but your life chances and those of your children.

"If we vote for independence this September, there is no going back.

"You can't just give it a try. Independence is forever. It is a one-way ticket."

The former Labour chancellor described independence as a "risky proposition" and said key questions around the currency and EU membership had not been answered by the pro-independence campaign.

He told the audience: "I will be voting no. Others will vote yes. Others have yet to make up their minds. But be warned. The greatest of the don't knows is Alex Salmond.

"Ask him what currency an independent Scotland would have and he has to answer 'don't know'.

"Ask him to give you a guarantee on your pension, your mortgage rates, your tax rates, your children's school or your parents' care and the best he can say is 'don't know'.

"That is not a good enough prospectus upon which to make this decision. That is too negative a message for Scotland to contemplate."

But SNP MP Mr Robertson said the speech was "poor and panicky".

He said: "It was Mr Darling who said that a sterling area between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK is 'desirable' and 'logical' - he doesn't even agree with himself and by a factor of some six-to-one, people in the rest of the UK also back the Scottish government policy to keep the pound."

"Mr Darling's own No campaign adviser, Prof Gallagher, agrees that Scotland will not be part of the euro - something else he shows no indication of being aware of.

"Given that the Treasury has just published detailed proposals agreeing with the Scottish government policy to share the UK's debt - much of it run up by Alistair Darling - we presume that they wish Scotland to pay a share in pounds sterling.

"There are no new ideas or messages from the No campaign, only further evidence that 'project fear' is alive and well in 2014."

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