Scottish independence: Both sides told to 'raise their game' by former First Minister Lord McConnell

 

Former Scotland First Minister Lord McConnell has strongly criticised both sides of the independence campaign for failing voters with what he called complacent and negative tactics.

With less than 100 days to go to the referendum, the Labour peer said people deserved a higher level of debate and urged Alex Salmond’s Yes campaign to “stamp out the culture of bullying and intimidation, that exists not just on the Internet but in Scottish public life today”.

JK Rowling became the latest high-profile figure subjected to a torrent of abuse on social media from nationalists when she announced her £1m donation to the Better Together campaign this month. Broadcaster Andrew Marr was recently denounced as a “self-important weasel” for challenging Mr Salmond about a separate Scotland’s European Union membership on his BBC show.

Lord McConnell, who was First Minister from 2001-07 and is against independence, said Mr Salmond and his team should “answer questions more factually and accurately than perhaps has been the case so far”.

The peer also criticised the Better Together campaign led by former Chancellor Alistair Darling. Lord McConnell said it needed to “raise their game too” comparing the group to a bunch of arrogant students who get drunk at lunchtime and forget their arguments.

Speaking in the House of Lords on Tuesday he said: “In a university abroad about six months ago, I judged a debate between two teams of students, one defending Scotland’s membership of the United Kingdom and one promoting Scottish independence. Those in favour of Scotland’s membership of the United Kingdom had read all the evidence and papers – many of them produced by Her Majesty’s Government – and become so convinced of the case that they went to the pub at lunchtime, became complacent and, despite having all the arguments, lost the debate comprehensively to those who were more focused, determined and clearer about their aspirations for the future of Scotland.”

He said the No campaign “needs to outline a positive vision for the future of Scotland inside the United Kingdom, campaigning not to protect the union and the established order but for a new order - a reformed United Kingdom with a new Scotland actively participating within it”.

A Better Together spokesperson said: “The three parties backing a No vote are united in the passionate belief that being part of the UK is in the best interests of Scotland. The joint statement about more powers for Scotland from the three Scottish party leaders confirms that we are all on the same page on this.”

A spokesperson for Yes Scotland said: ‘We encourage people on both sides of the debate always to express their opinions in a reasonable, respectful and courteous manner and we have issued robust social media guidelines stressing these vital points. Abuse, from wherever it comes, is unacceptable. The Yes Scotland campaign is civic, inclusive and aspirational.”

STV is hoping to host a televised debate between Mr Darling and Mr Salmond next month but the broadcaster has not received agreement from both sides on the question of the date.

Mr Salmond’s preference remains for a debate with David Cameron but in a letter to STV on Saturday his office said failing that the First Minister would agree to a debate with Mr Darling after the Commonwealth Games, which concludes on 3 August.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
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: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?