Cameron to visit Glasgow as No campaign struggles in wake of TV debate


  By a Newsnet reporter

Prime Minister David Cameron is to visit Glasgow tomorrow in a bid to bolster the anti-independence campaign in the wake of the TV debate that saw Alistair Darling struggle against First Minister Alex Salmond.

The Conservative leader will be the main speaker at a dinner event to be held in Glasgow by pro-Union lobbying organisation the CBI.

The decision to invite Mr Cameron was revealed on Wednesday evening and follows a poor performance in a live TV debate by leader of Better Together Alistair Darling.  Viewers watched as the Labour MP struggled in the TV head-to-head against his pro-independence rival.

The decision to bring the Tory Prime Minister to Scotland will be viewed by some as an admission that the No campaign is struggling.  Yes campaigners have been buoyant after an under-pressure Mr Darling was forced to concede that a newly independent Scotland could not be prevented from using the pound – a key plank of the No campaign.

In what has been a dreadful week for Better Together, Mr Darling’s party colleague Johann Lamont was also forced to concede claims she herself made over currency were also false.  The Scottish Labour leader had circulated a leaflet claiming a newly independent Scotland would not be able to use the pound.

However, following Mr Darling’s admission less than 24 hours earlier, Lamont was barracked in another TV debate after she too conceded Scotland could indeed use the pound.

The admission from the two senior Labour figures that key campaign claims were false follows a string of similar questionable claims from Better Together.

Last week it emerged that leaflets being distributed by the official No campaign contained misleading information on Scotland’s economy.

According to the leaflet, an independent Scotland would have an economy ranked 45th in the world, below that of Pakistan.  The No campaign document The Facts You Need includes a table that shows the gross domestic product of the world’s major nations, with the UK ranked 39 places in front of Scotland.

Quizzed by a member of the audience on the Better Together claim, spokeswoman Catriona Headley conceded that the leaflet was probably misleading.

“It’s right in the context of what it is … the figure is correct but I understand if you read it in that context [of GDP] it probably is misleading”.

Using GDP per-head, then Scotland would in fact be 14th place in a world table of economies – higher than the UK.

In January this year Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall said that Norway relies on high taxes in order to pay for its oil fund.

Speaking on Radio Clyde, Mr McDougall told listeners that: “Norway affords paying into its oil fund because it has much, much higher taxes than we have here in Scotland.”

However Mr McDougall’s claim that higher taxes were needed in order to establish a fund was dismissed by the Norwegian Ministry of Finance.  A spokesman said that all revenues from the country’s oil and gas resource go into the fund, regardless of the income tax raised by the Norwegian Government.

Asked to confirm whether Mr McDougall’s comments were accurate, the spokesman said:

“Norway has a system where all petroleum (oil and gas) revenues are transferred to the Government Pension Fund Global, irrespective of total Government revenue.  Every year, the Norwegian parliament approves a budget which states how much should be transferred from the Fund over the budget.”

With the independence referendum now just three weeks away, the intervention of Mr Cameron is a gamble for the No campaign with many traditional Labour voters already known to be moving to Yes.  If it goes wrong, the arrival of the Tory leader could in fact accelerate that process.