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Iain Anderson

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Britain Needs Its 'Yes' Campaign and Quickly

Posted: 16/02/2012 23:00

Since devolution, it has been hard to find Scotland portrayed day-to-day on the UK news agenda.

So far in 2012, Scotland has been dominating the agenda.

This week's meeting between David Cameron and Alex Salmond collided in the news cycle with Rangers Football Club falling into administration. With Rangers' long association with the Union flag, the timing for the 'unionist' cause is not so good.

That pro UK cause seems to have been the campaign that dare not speak its name until now. The case and the cry for nationalism has been making all the running since the Holyrood Parliament was formed. The Scottish electorate has been edging towards the SNP since 1999 and gave the party its own majority in the last devolved poll.

And during that time Alex Salmond has carefully courted 'Middle England' through the Telegraph and the Mail with a message designed to appeal as much to his own electoral base as to the Little England tendencies within politics south of the border. It's been working.

The pro Britain campaign has not got off the ground. It needs to and quickly. And it needs to be a campaign about YES to Britain and not NO to independence.

The pro Britain campaign should not waste any time on fighting plans to extend the electoral franchise to younger voters aged 16. That's such a cobwebby idea. It needs to have a better digital strategy than the independence campaign - and it can. 2012 is going to be filled with cool, iconic reasons to celebrate the UK. That must be the backdrop.

The pro Britain campaign needs to engage at every level from business to community groups.

All the polls suggest there is no majority in Scotland for independence but the 'devo max' concept - more powers for Holyrood with continued ties to the UK - seems to have a large chunk of support. It might even fit the federal UK model the Lib Dems have argued for years.

But up until now all the UK wide parties have appeared to shun the idea with the assumption that Alex Salmond - with his policy of 'gradualism' - would be happy with a devo max outcome in a three option referendum. More power, more voice. One more nudge towards eventual independence.

But this week the prime minster appears to have opened up the debate indicating a form of 'devo max' may be offered from London - but only after the referendum settles Scotland's position within or without the UK. A big bargaining chip has just been placed on the table. But make no mistake - it's a real gamble. For the First Minister is already calling this 'jam tomorrow' from London.

Therefore the case needs to be made.

The PM - and Rangers Football Club - have an uphill struggle. Both of them seem up for their fight. Let battle commence.

 

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