Talks have begun between the unionist parties about how they will work together to argue for the Union and defeat independence.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, Scottish Labour deputy leader Anas Sarwar and Conservative MSP and constitutional affairs spokesperson David McLetchie have been having regular discussions recently to agree a unified campaign.
The campaign, which will be Scottish-led, will bring together political parties with elements of business and civic Scotland under one umbrella and is expected to be launched in the months following the upcoming party conferences.
The parties have come together united by the belief that Scotland’s future lies within the UK, McLetchie explains.
“Obviously there are differences of view between parties and within parties as to exactly what constitutional architecture there should be within a United Kingdom but it is important to focus on the aims that we share rather than the aspects where there may be minor divergences of opinion,” he said.
While high profile figures in the Labour Party, such as Jim Murphy MP, have previously expressed reluctance to share a platform with the Conservatives on this issue, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont explains to Holyrood that she is willing to put aside her differences in order to argue for the United Kingdom.
“I think what I said was that it would always be uncomfortable for me to be on a platform with David Cameron. I accept that there would need to be cross party cooperation on this on the same basis that Salmond has constructed this other coalition. That’s constitutional politics.”
Asked if she will now campaign with the Conservatives, Lamont replied: “My problem with them is not their view on whether the United Kingdom exists or not.
“My problem with Cameron is that he’s a Tory. Now that’s not going to change but I do want a United Kingdom and I believe it’s in the best interests of the society that I believe in to remain inside the United Kingdom. So in the same way that there are business people and people in the Greens and beyond that are now arguing for an independent Scotland, people of different political backgrounds can come together around this one issue.”
McLetchie says he doesn’t foresee there being any problem with the parties working together on this issue.
“At the end of the day securing a vote in favour of the Union means different people who share that objective addressing different audiences and as much as anything else it is about coordinating messages to different groups and giving people different reasons as to why they should vote to maintain Scotland in the Union.”
He also expresses his confidence that the umbrella group will prove a match for the SNP.
“I’ve no doubt that we’ll prove a strong enough match for the SNP.
“At the end of the day people will vote to maintain the UK who currently vote for a whole variety of political parties in Scotland. So if we are to focus on what unites us … – even though people have very different views as to the shape of Scottish society, what economic or social policy should be … we have to recognise that these differences exist but they shouldn’t undermine the fundamental view as to the country we should be citizens of.”