Salmond urges nationalists to collect a million Yes signatures

Scottish independence campaign launches with poetry, song and pledges of socialist solidarity

Alex Salmond launched the campaign for Scottish independence yesterday, telling nationalists to collect the signatures of one million Scots to ensure victory in the 2014 referendum.

But the No campaign immediately hit back, warning that thousands of civil servants based in Scotland could lose their jobs if the country votes to leave the Union. More than 30,000 officials work for the UK Government. "We wouldn't keep them in a foreign country," one minister told The Independent.

The UK government staff include 9,800 at HM Revenue & Customs, 9,000 at the Department of Work and Pensions and 5,300 at the Ministry of Defence. In total they dwarf the 17,000 employed by the Scottish Government.

The pro-independence campaign will accuse opponents of scaremongering, saying that many of the posts would transfer to the Edinburgh-based Government in the event of a Yes vote. But one UK Government source insisted: "This is something that the SNP does not want to talk about. People should talk about it because, if Scotland became independent, then many civil service jobs would go."

The possible threat to jobs will form part of a cross-party anti-independence campaign to be launched shortly. Its leaders will include the former Chancellor Alistair Darling. Mr Salmond issued his challenge at a glitzy launch in Edinburgh, which included music, poetry, a message of support from Sir Sean Connery and stirring contributions from the actors Alan Cumming and Brian Cox.

The songwriter Dougie Mclean gave an emotional rendition of the unofficial nationalist anthem, Caledonia, and Scotland's national poet, Liz Lochhead, raised passions by reciting a speech from one of her plays – Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off.

Observers expressed surprise afterwards at the political tone. Instead of going for the centre ground, where many political analysts think the referendum will be won, yesterday's launch took the movement to the left.

In the absence of any speakers to represent business or enterprise, the audience was treated to declarations of old-fashioned socialist solidarity from the former Labour MP Dennis Canavan and former trade union shop-steward Tommy Brennan. The Scottish First Minister has been criticised for launching the Yes for Independence campaign so early – the referendum is likely to be held on 18 October 2014. But he has given his activists the long lead-in time to collect as many backers as possible for the cause.

The Yes Declaration is modelled partly on the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, which announced Scottish independence, and partly on the American Declaration of Independence of 1776.

The Declaration states that Scotland's future should be decided by Scots and supports the concept that Scotland should "speak with her own voice". Mr Salmond told activists that they would win the referendum if they managed to get a million Scots to sign the declaration.

He added: "We unite behind a declaration of self-evident truth. The people who live in Scotland are best placed to make the decisions that affect Scotland. We want a Scotland that's greener, fairer and more prosperous. We realise that the power of an independent Scotland is necessary to achieve these great ends."

Mr Salmond was cheered when he declared that an independent Scotland would be free of nuclear weapons, and he gave an indication of where he thought the campaign would be won by praising his party's "community of activists and online wizardry".

Mr Cumming, a Scottish-born actor who has become a Hollywood star, told the invited audience at the Edinburgh multiplex cinema where the event was held that Scotland had "blossomed" since devolution. The pro-independence movement has £2m to spend. Some of this will be spent by activists as they attempt to spread the Yes Declaration throughout the country but some of it was obviously spent on yesterday's launch – with its slick videos, chauffeur-driven limousines for the main stars, and the sort of professional razzmatazz that the SNP does so well now.

Benefactors

Colin and Chris Weir

Won £161m on Euromillions in 2011. Gave £1m to the Yes campaign.

Edwin Morgan

Scotland's Makar – national poet – before his death in 2010. Left almost £1m to the Yes campaign in his will.

Local membership

SNP leaders have already started a fund-raising drive of the party's 20,000 members which is expected to bring in another £500,000.

Other big donors

The SNP have benefited from big donations, notably from bus tycoon Brian Souter who gave the party £570,000.

Suggested Topics
News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teacher

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay, Free CPD: Randstad Education Sou...

Supply Teachers Required

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of Pay, Excellent CPD : Randstad Educati...

NQT and Experienced Primary Teachers Urgently required

£90 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: NQT and Experienced Primary Teac...

Year 1 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay, Free CPD: Randstad Education Sou...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor