Holyrood powers pledge in referendum battle

Gordon Brown is to address a rally in Loanhead. Picture: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
Gordon Brown is to address a rally in Loanhead. Picture: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
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THE three main anti-independence parties are expected to announce a joint commission on more powers for Holyrood following the weekend poll which put the Yes campaign ahead for the first time.

The YouGov poll showed Yes with 51 per cent support and No with 49 per cent and found the pro-independence campaign had made up its previous lack of support among women.

Hours after the poll was released, Chancellor George Osborne promised “a plan of action” in the next few days to give Scotland extra powers over tax, spending and welfare.

But the move was immediately branded a panic reaction, with pro-independence campaigners pointing out many people had already cast their votes by post.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown will tonight set out his case for more powers when he joins Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont at a Labour No rally in Loanhead.

Mr Brown is expected to say that “change is coming”. And he is due to tell the rally: “A stronger Scottish Parliament within the UK is far better, fairer and safer than an irreversible separation.” Mr Brown will also announce a six-day, 30-visit tour of Scotland’s heartlands aimed at convincing undecided voters of the case for a “patriotic No vote”.

The poll lead for the Yes campaign appeared to spookthe markets today as the pound slumped to a ten-month low.

During the campaign, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have all said they would deliver more powers after a No vote – but they cannot agree on the detail of what those powers would be.

However, following the poll Labour leader Ed Miliband insisted extra powers would start being devolved “right after” a No vote.

First Minister Alex Salmond was dismissive of the promises from UK parties.

He said: “Are we expected to believe, after hundreds of thousands have already voted, that there’s a radical new deal?

“This is a panicky measure made because the Yes side is winning on the ground. They’re trying to bribe us, but it won’t work as they have no credibility left.”

Meanwhile, an Edinburgh University study found that the more information people have in the run-up to the referendum, the more likely they are to vote Yes. a new study has suggested. Researcher Davide Morisi, from the European University Institute, said: “Since independence is related to more uncertainty than keeping the status quo, reading convincing arguments has a stronger effect on a Yes vote, because it contributes to reducing these uncertainties to an ‘acceptable’ level.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com