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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever