Bill Clinton urges Scottish parties to listen to each other instead of 'tearing the place apart'

Former US president offers advice to help both sides of the Scottish independence debate get along

Former US president Bill Clinton has stepped in as mediator for both sides of the Scottish independence debate, urging them to respectfully weigh up political arguments without “tearing the place apart”.

Speaking at the Scottish Business Awards in Edinburgh, Clinton said both sides would emerge better, regardless of any outcome, “if they go about it in the right way”. The two-term leader explained that while he does not know enough about the domestic constitutional debate, he has top-level experience from other states around the world.

He told an audience of about 1,400 business representatives, and First Minister Alex Salmond: "It's really important that there be an honest effort to list the consequences of this vote, one way or another. And then people that believe they are now, and might be on different sides, actually sit down and talk to each other about it.

"When you get a question like this, how you respond to it, and how respectfully you treat it, and how honestly you try to listen to other people and then come to the practical conclusion, is sometimes as important as the decision that's made.

"This place already has a quite clearly defined identity. You just have to run up the pluses and minuses and do it in a way that doesn't tear the place apart while you're trying to reach an agreement."

People in Scotland will vote whether to leave or stay in the UK in a referendum due to be held in September next year. When asked for his thoughts on the referendum at the start of the question and answer session, Clinton responded by stating that it is a decision for people in Scotland to make and refused to give his clear opinion.

"Secondly, I honestly don't understand enough about what the difference would be between a status of independence which apparently will have some relationship with the UK and the current devolution understanding," he added.

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