Yes to outspend Better Together in last 48 hours

Bob Geldof makes an impassioned plea against Scottish independence at the Let's Stay Together rally in London. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Bob Geldof makes an impassioned plea against Scottish independence at the Let's Stay Together rally in London. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

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pro-independence campaigners are set to outgun their opponents in the final days of the referendum as strict spending limits hit the pro-UK Better Together efforts.

Yes Scotland plans to blitz billboards, letterboxes and street corners in the critical 48 hours before the vote, but Better Together has already spent closer to the limit, leaving it with less cash for the final push.

Yes campaigners outside the Usher Hall. Pic: Getty

Yes campaigners outside the Usher Hall. Pic: Getty

The pro-independence campaign is due to deliver 2.6 million leaflets, put up 300 billboards, run prominent adverts in local and national newspapers and send a direct mailing to 1.2 million pensioners as the campaign comes to an end.

Better Together admits it will be doing less, with 200 billboards and 1.5 million leaflets.

The two sides have each been allowed to spend a maximum £1.5 million during the 16 weeks of the official campaign.

Polling guru Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, suggested Better Together had not used its resources as well.

He said: “I think the Yes side have won the battle of the billboards – and they have won the battle of the kitchen windows.”

He said Better Together had put a lot of resources into focus groups, which had told it to highlight the currency issue. “The groups said it was a brilliant idea, which I don’t think it was, and to that extent I don’t think their focus groups were any good to them.”

He suggested posters warning of the dangers of separation had not been particularly effective. “They have been at risk of over-egging the pudding - there is a bit of ‘we have heard all this before’. If you are too negative, people stop listening. Because they have done a fair bit of this, not all of it is believed.”

New figures from the Electoral Commission show the Yes campaign has now received a total of £1,822,120 in donations while those on the pro-union side have banked £2,742,723.

The latest details show Yes Scotland received £100,000 from businessman William Tait senior and £20,000 from former Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Sir George Mathewson.

Better Together did not receive any donations over the period but Let’s Stay Together, a UK-wide group urging Scots to vote No that has been backed by celebrities such as Sir Paul McCartney, received £10,000 from Chelsea vice-president Joe Hemani.

Meanwhile, Sir Bob Geldof has urged Scots to vote No on Thursday. At a Let’s Stay Together rally in London’s Trafalgar Square, he said: “You’re fed up with Westminster? We’re all f****** fed up with Westminster. Don’t let emotion get in the way of your head.”

But best-selling artist Jack Vettriano gave his backing to the independence campaign. He said: “I’m full of confidence that the people of Scotland are best placed to make the decisions for Scotland. Let us vote Yes and realise our potential.”

And the fall-out from the Queen’s remarks at the weekend continued, with pro-UK MPs claiming her appeal for people to “think very carefully” about the referendum was clear support for Scotland staying in the Union.

But First Minister Alex Salmond insisted the Queen was “absolutely impartial”.

Veterans on both sides of the debate issued pleas to voters. More than 400 former servicemen and women have signed a statement arguing Scotland will be stronger and more secure inside the UK. Meanwhile, veterans backing a Yes vote have issued their own letter saying the referendum is about democracy rather than supporting a “self-serving Westminster establishment”.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com