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by Staff reporter
02 December 2013
No campaign “uncompromising and consistently negative” – McLeish

No campaign “uncompromising and consistently negative” – McLeish

The release of the White Paper has exposed how “uncompromising and consistently” negative the No campaign is, according to a former Labour First Minister.

In his Holyrood column Henry McLeish accused Better Together of failing to highlight the positive benefits of staying in the Union.

He also believes the organisation needs an equivalent document to the Government’s White Paper.

He said: “Better Together explains the real and important dangers of leaving the Union, but fails to spell out the positive benefits of staying, and it tends to accept that the current form of the Union guarantees its continuing relevance, even after 306 years.

“Its campaign is also in danger of turning tough political responses into threats, where rebuttal looks more like the threat of revenge if the will of the Scottish people manifests itself in a ‘Yes’ vote.

“Why wouldn’t the 29 EU member states want to have Scotland as a member of the EU? Why wouldn’t the defence ministers want Scotland to join NATO? Why wouldn’t the rest of the UK want Scotland to be part of a currency union? These are essentially political questions not economic, technical or financial. All have to be applied for and negotiated, but all are possible.

“The politics of hope are contesting the politics of fear. Surely the case for the Union is better than this. Saying No is not a positive message. The Better Together campaign has to find an accompanying positive narrative.”

McLeish added that electors are also questioning how committed the unionist parties are to constitutional change.

“Alistair Carmichael, Secretary of State for Scotland, said recently that the ‘No’ campaign didn’t need an equivalent document to the Government’s White Paper. Alistair, it does. Responding to the launch, Alistair Darling said: “The White Paper is a work of fiction. It is thick with false promises and meaningless assertions.” Alistair, it isn’t,” McLeish said.

He continued: “So where does the ‘No’ campaign go from here? In particular, Scots don’t know what a No vote would mean for them in terms of what is on offer from the Union, the political parties involved and the Westminster Government.

“In the absence of a clear direction for Scotland’s future, many Scots may be forced to vote Yes. First, they need a positive vision for the future of the Union and Scotland’s role within it. Second, they have to produce their blueprint for structural and constitutional change in the run-up to the referendum and beyond, to signal there is a commitment to radical change.

“Third, they need to accept that being a passionate Scot and a practical unionist, are not mutually exclusive.

“Fourth, the campaign has to acknowledge that Westminister’s poisonous politics is having a negative effect on the campaign and if reassurance is unforthcoming, more Scots may abandon the Union. Fifth, embrace a powerful and positive regard for Scotland and not be seen as wedded to this old-fashioned idea of democratic collective centralism at Westminster; power and sovereignty have now to be shared.”

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