How hard can it be to just say No?

If, as the opinion polls are predicting, the Scottish electorate chooses to vote No (possibly by a very narrow margin) in September’s Independence referendum, it will not be thanks to the Better Together campaign. If you are looking for a textbook example of how not to run a political operation then look no further.

The latest own goal came just last week when the Scottish wing of the CBI announced that it was reversing a decision made only a few days earlier to campaign for a No vote.

Instead of proactively selling the benefits of the United Kingdom to Scotland, the Better Together campaign has instead concentrated on Old Testament style prophecies of doom and misery if the Scots opt to go it alone. For example, George Robertson (former Labour minister and ex Secretary General of NATO) claimed earlier this month that a Yes vote would endanger the security of the USA and would be a major boost to international terrorist groups.

Some advocates of a No vote are so fed up with Better Together that they are doing their own thing, resulting in some odd alliances. Respect MP George Galloway, a fierce critic of Tony Blair and his war in Iraq, is campaigning under the Just Say Naw banner with Brian Wilson, a New Labour stalwart who served as Blair’s Special Envoy to Iraq! Even odder is the suggestion by English Tory MP Rory Stewart that people should form a human chain along Hadrian’s Wall to show their support for the Union.

So how can the No camp get their act together? Some right wing commentators have suggested bringing in the Union’s secret weapon – Boris Johnson. It sounds desperate, but I can’t help thinking that a live broadcast debate between Alex Salmond and Boris Johnston would be the most entertaining TV programme of the year.


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