THE latest weapon in the battle for referendum votes was unveiled today – the Margomobile.
The converted truck, dedicated to the late Margo MacDonald and her independence message, is to tour key areas of the Central Belt between now and September 18 in a bid to win over undecided voters.
The unveiling came just hours before tonight’s historic TV showdown between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, billed as a key test for the Yes and No campaigns as the referendum enters its final lap.
With both sides preparing intensively for the joust – to be screened at 8pm on STV – it is understood talks are now under way with executives from BBC, Sky and Channel 4 about staging further debates.
The Evening News revealed last month that Margo’s husband, Jim Sillars, was raising money to pay for the vehicle so he could take her distinctive Yes message to the people who could make a decisive difference in the referendum.
The Independent Lothian MSP died in April, but Mr Sillars said he was determined “Margo will still take part in this campaign”.
Today, the Margomobile was launched in Govan, where she made her first political breakthrough in 1973 after winning a by-election for the SNP.
It will now visit communities across the country, linking up with local Yes campaigns. Its first visit to Edinburgh is scheduled for this Saturday.
So far the appeal has raised £10,000 to pay for the vehicle conversion and a further £17,000, which will help fund leaflets, posters and other campaign material to spread Margo’s message on independence.
Mr Sillars said the response had been “excellent”.
He said: “In recent weeks I have received requests from campaigners for photographs of Margo, and quotes from her on independence. There have been songs and poems written about her contribution to the independence cause.
“It became obvious that she remains a potent political force, and the Margomobile is meant to make sure that her voice, her words, her thoughts are there to influence and inspire those engaged in the final push for a Yes vote.
“I was determined that death would not silence her. Margo had no equal in campaigning among the people, and the Margomobile will carry her kind of campaigning to as many working class areas as we can.
“It will have style and political class, like the lady herself.”
Alex Salmond will open and close tonight’s head-to-head TV debate having won the toss of the coin.
Mr Salmond is sure to remind viewers that Prime Minister David Cameron was not willing to take him on in such a debate. The First Minister has reportedly been advised to concentrate on presenting an enticing but not over-egged case for independence to win over undecided viewers rather than trying to score points against Mr Darling, left.
The former Chancellor and Edinburgh South West MP is expected to stress the No campaign’s “best of both worlds” message and accuse Mr Salmond of failing to answer key questions.
A weekend poll found pro-Union support totalled 46 per cent with 40 per cent of those surveyed backing Yes and 14 per cent undecided.