The Better Together campaign must try harder
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Yesterday saw the launch of the official cross-party 'Better Together' campaign against Scottish independence, in preparation for the proposed referendum that will most likely be held in the autumn of 2014. In Scotland's capital, Edinburgh, all three main pro-Union parties in Scotland (Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives) gathered together to voice their concerns over splitting the three-hundred year old political union between Scotland and England. Former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling is being put forward as the figurehead of the 'No' campaign, whilst prominent former Lib Dem leader, Charles Kennedy and former Scottish Conservative leader, Annabel Goldie, are being rolled out to stress the Union cause. A seemingly impressive line-up, one might think. Surely a cordial coalition of anti-independence parties should destroy the, now, Scottish National Party-dominated 'Yes' campaign? Perhaps not. Despite all the friendly handshakes (of which there was a suspicious amount of) between Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie, it all seemed very false to this observer. None of these parties have been particularly cordial in their relations with one another in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament in the year since the Scottish Parliamentary Elections of May 2011. Serious tensions have arisen, particularly as Scottish Labour attempt to press home to Scottish voters the damage which the Westminster coalition of the Lib Dems and Conservatives is doing to those of us north of the border. It seems that the entire proposed 'unity' of the campaign is based upon the age-old tenet of 'my enemy's enemy is my friend'. Prior to the official launch and press conference, the 'No' campaign had been desperate to highlight that their message for Scotland remaining in the Union was a positive one, hence 'Better Together', and that they could match the 'Yes' campaign's optimism for Scotland's future, but as a key player in the United Kingdom, as opposed to going it alone. However, the speech Alistair Darling gave was not one which I would necessarily describe as 'positive'. Certainly, he never actually said that Scotland would be worse off if it became independent, but the majority of supposed 'positives' were merely negative points which had been re-worded and disguised as being positive. A key example would be when Darling talked of the act of independence itself, in a particularly doom-mongering manner:
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