Senior unionist politicians have made emotional pleas for Scotland to stay in the UK – and have been dismissed by nationalists as “Horsemen of the Naw-pocalyse” who “shall suffer” and face a “reckoning” if there is a Yes vote in the independence referendum.
Conservative chief whip Michael Gove, who was raised in Scotland, has accused nationalists of “putting the interests of those who look and speak and think like you” over the solidarity of the UK, who “mourned together” over the Lockerbie bombing, the Piper Alpha disaster, Dunblane, the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the death of Baby Peter and the abuse in Rotherham.
Former Creation Records boss Alan McGee, the Scottish Svengali who discovered Oasis, said unionist “scare stories” are becoming increasingly “ridiculous” and that independence would allow Scots to “kick the ‘effing Tories’, as the Prime Minister said so patronisingly”.
But former Labour home secretary John Reid said the SNP have often sided with the Tories against Labour governments.
Ex-Labour MP Jim Sillars, a prominent nationalist and widower of SNP trailblazer Margo MacDonald, has rolled back on his claims that companies that have spoken out against independence will face “a day of reckoning” – insisting it was a bid to get media attention.
Better Together leader Alistair Darling, a Labour MP, said there have been “dark aspects” to the nationalist campaign.
Both sides of the Scottish independence debate will make their latest push for votes as the final weekend of campaigning gets under way today.
Yes Scotland is promising what it called the biggest day of national campaigning ever seen in the country, with some 2.6 million leaflets being delivered to households in the space of 48 hours.
For the No camp, Labour big-hitters former prime minister Gordon Brown and shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran will be addressing voters in the east of the country.
Elsewhere, the Orange Order will hold a “Proud to be British” rally in Edinburgh in support of the Union, with organisers expecting more than 10,000 people to attend.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Gove said: “Scotland suffered terribly when Pan Am 103 exploded in the skies over Lockerbie, when the workers of the Piper Alpha rig were victims of an horrific industrial disaster and when the children of Dunblane were shot by a madman. And Scotland’s suffering was Britain’s suffering.
“These tragedies inspired an upsurge of sympathy across these islands. As we all – across the United Kingdom – felt for Madeleine McCann’s parents after their daughter went missing, wept for Baby Peter after his short life ended in violence, and shared a sense of horror when we learnt of the abuse visited on girls in Rotherham. We mourned together.”
He added: “Walking on by on the other side, putting the interests of those who look and speak and think like you ahead of all else, was not what I was taught to believe in when I listened to the gospel preached in Causewayend Kirk in Aberdeen, or what I was encouraged to admire when I learned about William Gladstone’s Midlothian campaign, when he took his message directly to the people.
“And that’s my concern with what the Yes Campaign stands for today.”
In the Herald, Mr McGee said: “Many of us know that the result is forever, so we can kick the ‘effing Tories’, as the Prime Minister said so patronisingly in his speech, delivered to his slavering sycophantic supporters, and not the real people in the street.”
He added: “How many more vulnerable people are going to commit suicide due to welfare cuts? How many more foodbanks are going to be opened? How many more people are going to have to decide this winter between heating or eating? How many more illegal wars are we going to be dragged into? How many more of us are starting to realise, it doesn’t have to be like this in Scotland?”
He continued: “The scare stories are getting ridiculous. Next thing it will be ‘Asteroid hits Earth if Scotland votes for independence’. We are not children, stop trying to frighten us.
“This has been the most negative, fear-driven and insulting political campaign in modern history and should be treated with nothing other than the total contempt it so richly deserves.
“Scots have long memories. And the main culprits, no matter the result, shall suffer.”
Writing in the Daily Record, Mr Reid said: “When asked to choose between that Labour government and the Tory opposition led by Thatcher, (the SNP) voted with the Tories, bringing down the Labour government and leading to 18 years of Thatcherism.
“And remember – it was Alex Salmond who said Scotland ‘didn’t mind’ Thatcher’s weconomics. Well I’m sorry Alex, we did. You can start with the workers at Linwood and Ravenscraig but really we more than minded the devastation Thatcher’s economics caused.
“Same in the 1990s. When the last Labour government introduced the minimum wage, the SNP didn’t even bother to turn up to vote for it. Again, they were more interested in separation.”
Yesterday, Mr Sillars caused consternation amongst some companies when he said “when we get a Yes majority we will use that power for a day of reckoning with BP and the banks”.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, he said: “I knew when I used terms like ‘reckoning’ and ‘nationalisation’ that I would get exposed both on radio and television and here I am on your prestigious programme, hopefully able to say to BP’s institutional shareholders and the board of BP: it’s time you reined this man in (Bob Dudley) because he is taking part in ‘project fear’ organised by the Prime Minister from Downing Street.”
He added: “For us to nationalise BP would be a major problem. We don’t have the ability to nationalise the North Sea. Anyone with any knowledge of Scotland … we don’t have the kind of technical knowledge and financial and contractual knowledge. There’s about 570 rigs out there.”
In an interview in the Guardian, Mr Darling said: “I have been involved in political campaigns for the last 35 years and have never seen anything like this. There have been dark aspects to this which need to have a light shone on them because they are not acceptable.”
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who was campaigning in Glasgow, said momentum was still with the Yes campaign.
This weekend will see over 35,000 Yes volunteers across the country at 473 registered street stalls and 2.6 million leaflets delivered in 48 hours.
She said: “The Yes campaign has been carried along by a flourishing of self-confidence among people in Scotland.
“That momentum is still growing and will soon become unstoppable, as people reject the Downing Street-orchestrated campaign to talk Scotland down.
“Today thousands of Yes supporters from communities across Scotland will be running the biggest campaign day of action Scotland’s ever seen.”