Card-carrying unionists kick off Better Together campaign

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ALISTAIR Darling has claimed Alex Salmond is “afraid” of the voters’ verdict on independence.

The former Chancellor claimed the First Minister was talking up the idea of a second question – about more powers short of independence – because he wanted to muddy the waters over the fundamental issue.

At the launch of the pro-UK Better Together campaign at Napier University’s Craiglockhart campus, Mr Darling said: “He wants a second question because it’s increasingly obvious he is afraid of the first. He’s worried what Scotland will say in response to the fundamental question, which is whether or not to stay part of the UK.

“I have this growing feeling he is looking at the polling evidence and coming to the view that anything that muddies the waters might help his cause.”

The Edinburgh South West MP told the launch rally that leading the campaign for the Union was “one of the most important things I have ever done in politics”.

He was joined at the event by the three Scottish party leaders – Labour’s Johann Lamont, Lib Dem Willie Rennie and Tory Ruth Davidson – as well as former Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie. Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy had been due to attend, but was not there.

The launch also featured on-stage interviews with ordinary Scots who Mr Darling said have “little to do with politics but they are absolutely passionate about Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom”.

Pro-independence campaigners with banners saying “Bitter Together” and “End London Rule” protested at the entrance to the venue.

Mr Salmond later accused Alistair Darling of operating as “the frontman for a Tory-led campaign of relentless negativity”. He said: “Alistair Darling’s use of smoke and mirrors exposes a campaign mired in negativity. His threadbare case against independence has been exposed by the weakness of his arguments.”