Scottish independence: Alex Salmond accuses Westminster's 'daytrippers' of 'scaremongering'

With six months to go until the referendum, support for the 'Yes' campaign rising and one in 10 voters still undecided, the First Minister lays into Tory-led 'No' emissaries

Campaigners for an independent Scotland are offering hope over the "fear" of those arguing for the United Kingdom to remain together, Alex Salmond says today.

In comments to mark six months until the 18 September referendum, the First Minister said voters were beginning to show signs of rejecting the "scaremongering" of the Better Together lobby.

The polls have given the No campaign a clear lead for months, but a survey last week put support for a Yes vote at a six-month high, nine points behind a No vote, in the Survation poll for the Daily Record.

In a sign that pro-unionists need to do more to persuade the large rump of undecided Scots – who are likely to prove decisive on polling day – David Cameron said on Friday that Scotland could have more tax-raising powers if voters rejected independence – effectively "devo max", or maximum devolution. The PM offered Mr Salmond devo max in 2010 and again in 2011, after the Scottish Nationalist Party's landslide, but the First Minister rejected it.

In his comments today, Mr Salmond says: "Six months from now, Scotland's future will be in Scotland's hands – it will be a historic day and a unique opportunity for everyone who lives and works in this country. And the contrast between the two campaigns couldn't be more dramatic.

"On the one hand, there is a Tory-led No campaign of Westminster politicians day-tripping to Scotland to lecture and patronise from on high, while at the same time Scottish ministers carry out traditional public meetings in communities across Scotland, meeting ordinary people and answering their questions."

Without support from any of the mainstream Scottish media, the Yes campaign is focusing on a grassroots campaign to win over support, with town-hall meetings and community ambassadors. Mr Salmond describes this as the "biggest grassroots effort Scotland has ever seen – door to door, street to street and community to community".

He adds: "People in Scotland are sick and tired of the Westminster establishment talking Scotland down and telling us we are incapable of running our own country.

"That is why, despite the No campaign pursuing the most negative campaign in modern political history, momentum is firmly with the Yes campaign, as the latest opinion polls show.

"People across Scotland are rejecting the scaremongering of the self-styled 'Project Fear' in favour of the vision of hope, aspiration and progress offered by a Yes vote."

With Scotland "one of the wealthiest countries in the world", Mr Salmond says, the issue was not "whether we are wealthy enough to be independent, it is why so many people don't feel the benefit of that great wealth".

Countering economic arguments, he points out: "We are the 14th wealthiest country per head in the developed world. To say we can't be independent would mean there would only be 13 countries rich enough to be independent in the world. But there are nearly 200.

"For the next six months we will continue to highlight the potential of Scotland to counter the scare stories.

"The contrast between the two campaigns is crucial as we approach 18 September. Because this referendum isn't about politicians – it's not about me, or David Cameron. It's not about the press and it's not about the broadcasters, or the elites in London or Edinburgh. It's about the people of Scotland. And on September 18th, I firmly believe the people of Scotland will choose hope over fear by voting Yes."

On Friday, addressing the Scottish Conservative Party conference in Edinburgh, the Prime Minister said a No vote in September was "not the end of the line" for devolution.

Mr Cameron said: "Let me be absolutely clear: a vote for 'no' is not a vote for 'no change'. We are committed to making devolution work better still. Not because we want to give Alex Salmond a consolation prize if Scotland votes No, but because it's the right thing to do.

"Vote no, that can mean further devolution – more power to the Scottish people and their parliament, but with the crucial insurance policy that comes with being part of the UK."

But the Yes campaign said the PM's pledge showed that Better Together were "hopelessly split" on how much power to give to Scotland.

The Survation poll suggested 39.3 per cent will vote for independence, compared with 47.6 per cent who said they want Scotland to remain part of the UK. The rest are undecided.

Your questions answered

When's the big day?

Thursday 18 September 2014.

What's it all about?

Should Scotland be an independent country? That's the question people aged 16 or over and living in Scotland will be asked. Voters include more than 360,000 English-born people living in Scotland. More than 750,000 Scottish-born people living in England will not be able to vote.

You mean, the United Kingdom could become disunited?

Yes, if the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, has any say in the matter. An extremely capable politician, he is feared and respected by his opponents. The electoral system in Scotland – a combination of first-past-the-post and proportional representation – is said to have been designed to prevent a majority for any single party, ensuring endless coalitions. But in the 2011 election, the SNP won 69 of the 129 seats with 45 per cent of the vote. Latest polls, however, put support for independence at 35-39 per cent, compared with 47-53 per cent against.

What happens if Scotland votes Yes?

An almighty argument. Scotland would have to negotiate with the rest of the UK about issues such as rights to North Sea oil, the UK's debts and the nuclear base at Faslane amid a general dividing up of the family silver. Scotland would also seek to continue as a member of the EU, but countries like Spain – where Catalonia is threatening to break away – would likely argue that it must apply as a new entrant, a process which could take years.

So a No vote means everything just stays the same?

Wrong. The powers of the Scottish Parliament are expected to increase – a pledge likely to be made to try to win over soft nationalists to the unionist side. Under devo max", the Scottish Government would control taxation/spending, but pay a fee to Westminster for shared UK services such as foreign policy and defence. That could prompt calls for Scottish MPs to stop voting on English matters, leading to a possible constitutional crisis in which Labour has a UK majority but the Tories outvote them on domestic English affairs.

Robert Griffiths

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
Ministry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Richard Dawkins is known for his outspoken views
people
Life and Style
L’Auberge du pont de Collonges (AFP)
food + drinkFury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Arts and Entertainment
Bourne's New Adventures dance company worked with 27 young Londoners to devise a curtain-raiser staged before New Adventures' performance of Edward Scissorhands
theatreStar choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links