Referendum 'a test of common sense'

Alistair Darling claimed the best way to change Scotland was to remain in the United Kingdom

Alistair Darling launches a new ad van campaign with Leanne Williams and baby Charlotte near the Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock

First published in National News © by

The independence referendum is not a test of Scottishness, but a test of common sense, former chancellor Alistair Darling has insisted.

The Better Together leader claimed the best way to change Scotland was to remain in the United Kingdom, but for Holyrood to get new powers to redistribute wealth from the richest to the poorest.

He spoke out as the pro-UK campaign launched a new series of billboard adverts aimed at urging undecided voters to reject independence on September 18.

The posters have slogans such as "I love my family, I'm saying no thanks" and "I love Scotland, I'm saying no thanks".

Mr Darling spoke of his love for his country, saying that was why he wanted "Scotland to be strong".

He insisted: "This poll is not a test of our Scottishness - it is a test of common sense.

"If you vote Yes on September 18 and Yes wins, you won't be any more Scottish on September 19. None of us will be. But you will have made Scotland that bit poorer."

Mr Darling, addressing an audience in Greenock, Inverclyde, said being in the UK had been " no barrier at all to Scotland becoming wealthy and prosperous".

But he said: " What I think is wrong about Scotland is how that wealth is distributed.

"That is why I want Scotland to change. That is why I want the Scottish Parliament to be stronger. That is why the Scottish Parliament will have the power to redistribute wealth from rich to poor."

He stressed his support for the restoration of the 50p income tax band for the country's highest earners but said the SNP opposed this, adding: " We can change Scotland for the better, without throwing away the advantages we gain from being part of the UK."

Mr Darling said Scotland should be a " land of opportunity and prosperity, a land of fairness and equality".

He continued: " That is why this referendum isn't a test of patriotism. It is a test of judgment. What is best for Scotland?

"These adverts today speak of the decision all of us are making. We all love our country. We want what is best for our children. We want what is best for our family.

"Our case to those who are undecided is that we believe the best future, for the love of our families, for the love of our children, for the love of our country, is as a proud and prosperous part of the United Kingdom."

He said: " I don't believe that breaking away from the UK is in the best interests of Scots and Scotland."

The former chancellor said one million jobs in Scotland relied on the links with the rest of the UK, adding: " I want a million more opportunities like those for Scotland, not to put those jobs at risk.

" I want to change Scotland - but for the better. And I don't think you do that taking away all the security and opportunity we have by being in the United Kingdom.

"You don't start solving Scotland's problems by creating a new, enormous, fundamental series of economic problems we wouldn't be able to solve as well as we can today.

"Every journey might start with a single step. But I don't want the next step in Scotland's journey to be a giant leap backwards from which we wouldn't recover. And I know that the majority of Scots agree with me."

He called on the " quiet majority" of voters to take pride in rejecting independence, saying: "By voting No they are voting for Scotland. By voting No we are voting for a better way to change Scotland than the nationalists' offer."

But the posters were criticised by one man at the event, who said they would not convince voters in poorer parts of the country to vote for the UK.

The man said: "These new posters will not do the trick. I say that because the battle, the outcome of this referendum, will depend on getting undecided voters in council estates."

Mr Darling told him: "There are a number of people at the moment who have still got to make their minds up and I'm saying 'by voting No you are doing the right thing by Scotland'."

A spokesman for the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign said: 'The No campaign's new posters point to their biggest weakness and, given the revelations of the past few days, show awful timing. A No vote means leaving Scotland's future in Westminster's hands and there's no way that will be anything other than bad news for families in Scotland.

"If people love the NHS, for example, it's become very clear over the last few days that a Yes vote is the only way we can protect our health service from the knock-on effects of Westminster's privatisation of the English NHS. And, if we want more jobs for families in Scotland, they won't come from a No, because we now know that a No vote won't deliver a single new job-creating power for our country."

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