No campaign accused of pulling speakers from debates


  By a Newsnet reporter
Claims the anti-independence campaign is deliberately seeking to avoid debating with its rivals have been made after yet another Unionist politician refused to appear at a pre-arranged event.
The anti-independence parties have been challenged to have the courage to let voters hear both sides of the argument in the referendum – after it emerged that the No campaign has been instructing speakers to pull out of debates.

Tory MSP Jamie McGrigor has become the latest speaker to be ordered by the No campaign to pull out of an arranged debate – after refusing to appear at a scheduled event on the Isle of Skye. 

The pro-Union MSP had agreed to speak on behalf of the anti-independence Better Together campaign at an event scheduled to take place in Portree on June 6th.  However the MSP withdrew after Better Together stepped in and told him not to appear.

The move follows the continual refusal of David Cameron – who has been drafted in to play a more central role in the No campaign after Tory criticism of Alistair Darling’s performance – to agree to a head-to-head debate with the First Minister.

Commenting, Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Mike Mackenzie said:

“With the No campaign refusing to engage in debates all over the country people in Scotland will be wondering what they have to be afraid of – it seems like the No camp have gone from Project Fear to Project Feart.

“Perhaps the No campaign is taking their lead from David Cameron – whose refusal to debate with the First Minister has been a source of constant embarrassment for the No camp.”

The latest no-show from backers of the No campaign follows a similar pattern at events throughout Scotland, where Better Together appears to be increasingly reluctant to put forward speakers to debate with Yes campaigners.

Last month a huge event organised in Glasgow saw Yes campaigners forced to scour the city for participants willing to argue in favour of a No vote after Better Together refused to take part.  The failure to debate follows a string of events that have shown a marked move to Yes after members of the public are presented with arguments from both sides.

Mr Mackenzie added: “Earlier this year I debated Alistair Carmichael – with the Yes side emerging as the clear winner in a situation replicated at debates across the country.

“Time after time we saw that when people hear the arguments from both sides, they move to Yes – perhaps this is why the No camp are running scared of debate and refusing to take part.  They know their negative, scaremongering arguments just aren’t cutting it with people in Scotland.”