Contrasting final referendum pitches from Scotland's politicians

By staff writers
September 17, 2014

The different approaches of the Yes and No campaigns on the question of whether Scotland should be an independent country or not were on display as senior politicians made their final pitches this morning (17 September 2014).

Gordon Brown was the chief speaker at a large, heavily organised rally in Glasgow that featured Labour leaders and included extravagant appeals to national identity and patriotism while accusing opponents of all being 'nationalists'.

Mr Brown warned of economic gloom and doom for a self-governing Scotland, highlighting the security of pensions as one of the things people should be concerned about if they vote Yes.

Scotland would be safer and wealthier in the UK, the 'Better Together' speakers - including comedian Eddie Izzard, who had travelled up from England - stressed.

However, the UK Treasury and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has officially announced that all state (old age) pensions will continue to be paid to pensioners in Scotland by the DWP after independence, since they are legally obliged to do so.

Critics of Mr Brown also point out that it was he who raided pension funds to the tune of £100-120 billion while Chancellor of the Exchequer, as well as selling off two-thirds of the country's gold reserves during a 20-year price slump.

The former Chancellor and Prime Minister, who has made trust a key issue, and who has been brought centre stage in the referendum campaign following the dramatic slump in the No campaign's poll fortunes over the past three months, said that 'the nationalists" had "one aim and one aim alone" – to break up every tie and institution that bound Scotland to the UK.

But Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP, which is the largest party ion the pro-independence Yes side, stressed that the push for self-government was about combining the wealth of a resource rich nation (Scotland has 60 per cent of Europe's oil reserves, 25 per cent of offshore renewables and 20 percent of its fisheries) with the quest for a more socially just and equal society, "something none of the unionist parties can match".

He and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon were speaking from meetings with community groups, schools and workplaces, which is where they chose to spend their final morning of campaigning rather than big public events. They said Scotland had a "historic opportunity" to move towards being a fairer more democratic society.

Meanwhile the Yes campaign – which consists of 350 self-supporting and autonomous local groups - was continuing the canvassing and street activities which have been the hallmark of a campaign that has gone way beyond the SNP to embrace Greens, disillusioned Labour supporters, community campaigners, socialists and non-party activists.

The No campaign has been relying on phone banks, including ones staffed outside Scotland, to get its message across, and believes that its warnings of uncertainty will persuade a 'silent majority' of people to vote against taking back powers from Westminster.

Meanwhile, confusion continues over the 'vow' of the leaders of the three large Westminster parties to give Scotland special treatment if there is a No vote. The promise is unspecified and not backed up by any enforceable UK government provision. Conservative backbenchers have also indicated that they will rebel strongly against such measures.

* More on the Scottish independence referendum: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/scottishindependence

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