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Better Together campaign hits Inverness after ‘No’ polls drop

By Donna MacAllister

Alistair darling was joined by MP Charles Kennedy in Inverness yesterday
Alistair darling was joined by MP Charles Kennedy in Inverness yesterday

Alistair Darling was in Inverness cold-calling undecided voters this week after polls showing Scottish voters were shifting rapidly towards support for independence sent jitters through the City of London.

The leader of Better Together hit the phones at the campaign’s Castle Street base days after the pound dipped against the US dollar and it emerged Labour voters were being won over by the Yes campaign.

Speaking from his country-wide campaign trail, he said his staff were busy sending personalised letters to every household and every young voter in Scotland.

“I said a year ago that I thought the result would be closer than people thought. I knew it would go right down to the wire, which it will,” he said.

His visit to the Highland capital yesterday almost clashed with Alex Salmond, who will be mingling in the city centre this weekend.

The electioneers are scrabbling to win over the hearts and minds of a large number of voters, who surveys predict are still undecided, including a large number of Labour voters.

The latest YouGov survey showed 53 per cent would vote No, while 47 per cent would vote Yes, the undecided are excluded.

Speaking from his hotel on the banks of River Ness, Mr Darling, who is the Labour MP for Edinburgh South West, was not surprised so many were yet to make up their minds.

“It’s the biggest decision that any of us are likely to take in our lifetime,” he said. “If we decided to leave the UK there’s no going back. We’ve got a one-way ticket to a very uncertain destination.”

Mr Darling said the closing of the polls showed it was absolutely crucial those against independence turn out and vote.

But he believes Alex Salmond has left too many questions unanswered to sway the majority of the population.

“Even if he gets his preferred option of having a separate country with a currency union with England, the Scottish budget would have to be agreed with England. So you wouldn’t get any freedom to tax and spend as you wanted. It would have to be signed off by what will be the much bigger neighbour.”

Inverness and Nairn MSP Fergus Ewing said that was “complete nonsense”.

“We believe that Mr Darling and the No campaign are rattled and that’s why they are continuing to scaremonger because they can see that increasing numbers believe Scotland can be and should be independent,” he said.

“Scotland will be able to make her own decisions on tax and spending and we will do that better than Alistair Darling.”

A financial market expert last week said a Yes vote could trigger a three to five per cent fall by sterling “as an initial reaction”. The analyst told the Financial Times that was his “best guess”, which contradicts other predictions of a harder shockwave.

“The issue of Scottish independence won’t go away, even if the No side win this month. It is now unlikely that the gap is big enough for a No this time around to kick the issue into the long grass for ever,” he said.

“If, for example, the UK were to leave the EU after a referendum, Mr Salmond would leap back on the bandwagon and apply for an independent Scotland to remain in. And so on.”

But last week Mr Salmond said Better Together tried but failed to claim that the uncertainty imposed by the referendum debate would hit the financial markets and cost jobs and inward investment.

“They tried to claim uncertainty on inward investment, but unfortunately that has risen to an all-time high since 1997 and what we found has been record employment and record women employment in Scotland.”

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