Scottish independence: SNP say PM ‘running scared’

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DAVID Cameron has been accused of “running scared” on independence after he promised that a No result in the referendum would lead to more tax powers for Holyrood.

The Prime Minister told the Scottish Tory conference in Edinburgh that it was “a myth” that a vote against independence was a vote for the status quo.

He said: “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, giving the Scottish Parliament greater responsibility for raising more of the money it spends. So here’s the recap: Vote Yes – that is total separation. Vote No – that can mean further 
devolution.”

Spin doctors later insisted Mr Cameron meant “will” rather than “can”. But Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there were still no firm proposals from the Prime Minister about extra powers.

She said: “In a speech that contained half-hearted, vague suggestions of what might happen, Cameron’s reluctance to commit to anything spoke volumes. Indeed, the only 
reason the Tories are even talking about more powers is to attempt to bribe the people of Scotland into voting No – but it is unravelling fast.”

Ms Sturgeon claimed the No camp was getting “increasingly rattled” by polls showing an increase in the Yes vote.

And she criticised Mr Cameron for his refusal to have a one-to-one debate with First Minister Alex Salmond. She said: “For all his talk of fighting, Cameron is still running scared on independence. It’s clear he’s too feart.”

The Tory conference, which continues at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre until tomorrow, also heard from Professor Adam Tomkins, a member of the party’s Strathclyde commission which will report in May on the issue of more powers. Prof Tomkins said Holyrood already had “formidable” powers. And he said: “We’re not talking about devo max, which is a Nationalist policy and a perversion of devolution. It is designed not to deepen and strengthen the union, but to break it.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com