Independence: Charles Kennedy slams No campaign

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FORMER Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has criticised some of the rhetoric being used by the No side in the referendum campaign.

He said it was “a bit stupid” for anti-independence politicians to claim it was a ‘Salmond versus Scotland’ battle.

Charles Kennedy. Picture: Robert Perry

Charles Kennedy. Picture: Robert Perry

He told a fringe meeting at the Lib Dem conference in Aberdeen: “I don’t think that’s the resonance we’re looking for in terms of the tone of the campaign.

“A lot of Scots probably think Alex Salmond is on the side of Scotland, whether they agree with his ideas or not, so it’s a bit stupid to pose it as being Salmond versus Scotland.”

Mr Kennedy said the Yes campaign faced legitimate questions about what independence would mean for the currency, Nato, the monarchy, pensions and so on, but he said they were difficult to answer.

“The truth is no-one can actually know for sure, That’s not a criticism, it’s a statement of the blindlingly obvious.”

But he said the pro-Union parties had to have answers on what would happen after a No vote in the referendum.

He said: “We have got our home rule blueprint, Labour have moved in that direction, the Conservatives are due to.

Mr Kennedy said he agreed with another former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell that the anti-independence parties had to come up with a statement on the common ground on more powers for Holyrood.

He said: “At least a statement of headings of principle agreed among the UK and Scottish parties in terms of the direction of further devolution - that’s going to be essential for us in the final six months of this campaign.”

At the same meeting, organised by the Law Society, former Edinburgh West Lib Dem MP John Barrett said there was also common ground with the SNP.

He described the Scottish Government’s white paper on independence as an “SNP wish list” but added that it included many things he had argued for over the years.

He said: “Just to say because the SNP is promoting it it is therefore a bad idea is not a way that we will engage with the general public.”

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said the No campaign needed to concentrate on the most serious issues.

He said: “We don’t differentiate sometimes between the big issues that really matter - the currency, research, the single market. We latch onto the silly arguments that do not count. People then say ‘If you say black when it is clearly grey, why should we believe you on the big issues? How can we tell when it really matters?’”

“It’s the big issues we need to focus on and give a bit of frankness to the debate.”