Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Yes UK Campaign launched by Alastair Darling is lambasted by First Minister Alex Salmond, be statesmanlike and welcome challenge!

Dear All

Yesterday saw a slick presentation of the Yes UK Campaign, pitched perfect, with gravitas and low key to connect with ordinary people.

There wasn’t the Hollywood factor but there didn’t need to be to get the desired result.

Less than a day later Braveheart Alex Salmond has accused the pro-union lobby of using smoke and mirrors and a campaign mired in negativity.

Clearly Alastair Darling has made an impression as Alex Salmond is looking increasingly desperate and rattled with this ill-judged outburst, the independence launch was recognised by many as utterly dreadful right across the political divide.

Alex's day with the rich and powerful is how many saw it.

Alex Salmond hasn’t had a real solid political opponent to fight in years, now he does, former Chancellor Alastair Darling has serious gravitas, he is a heavy hitter from the Westminster Village.

Rather than draw attention to the Yes UK Campaign the First Minster has wrongly decided to lash out after former chancellor Alistair Darling formally launched the Better Together campaign in Napier University.

Well received by the press, good presentation done in a good setting and an excellent video, what I expected.

When opponents do a good launch, you don’t draw attention to it, but go the opposite way; you welcome it and rally the troops.

Awhile ago I said the SNP need to avoid ‘Chardonnay’ moments which came into the public domain when SNP list MSP Joan McAlpine was said to be called ‘Chardonnay’ by former press colleagues.

They thought of her as a “wee white whine”.

Now is not the time to whine.

Alex Salmond launched his attack claiming Darling had made a "threadbare case" in which he had said "not a single word about the anti- independence campaign's alternative vision of more powers for the Scottish Parliament".

He added:

"That is because, at heart, this is a Tory-led campaign, which is intent on conceding nothing to the people of Scotland, and hiding behind its refusal to spell out an alternative policy before the referendum."

He doesn’t need to, Darling is on the front foot; he is campaigning to save what he believes in, there is no electoral mandate for devo max.

Devo max isn’t seen as part of the real equation, the unionists won’t be playing Alex Salmond’s game, quite the opposite.

Alastair Darling as part of his pitch has insisted Better Together would rely on making a positive case which celebrates "not just what makes us distinctive but also celebrates what we share".

He said:

"We are positive about our links with the rest of the United Kingdom, through families and friendships, through trade and through shared political, economical and cultural institutions."

And he tossed in the spectre of a border between Scotland and England and the prospect of turning "our biggest market into our biggest competitor".

Mr Darling added:

"This is no abstract debate. It's about jobs, and pensions, and the welfare state, and the survival of businesses."

Alex Salmond responded:

"No rational person seriously believes that England would cease to be a major market for Scotland's goods and Scotland for England's following independence."

It is no real concern what the Yes UK Campaign are doing, yes they should be looked to see if they are open to criticism on policy, but attacking their launch looks like desperation in my opinion.

A recent poll puts support for independence at about a third depending on which one you read as a start point!

Alex Salmond has met someone who hits hard, and is fast on his feet; Salmond can’t tackle him in Holyrood and is forced into a ‘street fight’.

Perhaps the First Minster should have gone the statesmanlike route and welcomed the challenge.

It is what I would have advised.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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