No campaign chief says fear was key to stopping Scots voting Yes


  By a Newsnet reporter
The Director of the anti-independence campaign, Better Together, has admitted that Scotland may have voted Yes if Unionists hadn’t pursued a tactic of scaremongering.
Blair McDougall has said commentators who criticised his campaign for being negative were wrong and that undecided voter focus groups had responded well to his campaign tactics.

Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Labour party conference in Manchester, McDougall said: “If you do your own research and you get really clear messages back from it, have the courage to stick to it regardless of what the commentators are saying because they have an increasingly small reach in terms of setting the agenda.”

The former Labour party researcher also defended a campaign advert featuring a woman in a kitchen who complained that she hadn’t the time to look into referendum issues and instead relied on her husband to guide her.

McDougall said of the advert, dubbed #PatronisingBTWoman on twitter, “That video tested exceptionally well with undecided voters,”

McDougall’s campaign team celebrated victory in the early hours of Friday morning when No emerged the winner by 55% to 45%.  However his claim that the campaign strategy was the reason for victory is challenged by others who have insisted Gordon Brown was the man who saved McDougall’s beleagured campaign.

Brown took over the leadership two weeks before the referendum after a poll showed the McDougall/Darling partnership had fallen behind the Yes campaign, having squandered a twenty point lead.  Days after the Kirkaldy MP pledged a swift timetable to Home Rule, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg vowed to honour Brown’s promise.

The promise of further devolution has hit snags since last Thursday’s vote, with Labour and the Conservatives embroiled in a public row over how best to proceed.

Meanwhile today it has emerged that another key promises, that the Barnett funding mechanism would be maintained, looks set to be broken with a report in the Times newspaper revealing plans to reduce the amount of money Scotland receives through the formula.

Commenting on the Times’ revelation, SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn said:

“Less than a week after people in Scotland cast their vote in the referendum, the Westminster parties are already backtracking on their panicked promises to the people of Scotland.

“The Tories are now confirming they will press ahead with cuts to the Barnett formula, despite the fact they – along with Labour and the Lib Dems – said our budget was safe. It is already crystal clear this is absolutely not the case.”

This evening, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Finance Secretary John Swinney met with Lord Smith of Kelvin to discuss the details of the Smith Commission which will look at strengthening the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

Following the meeting, a spokesperson for the Deputy First Minister said:

“Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney met with Lord Smith this afternoon and have confirmed that the SNP will participate fully in the process he has set out.

“As the First Minister set out in his statement we welcome Lord Smith’s appointment and we have made clear to him our belief that there must be meaningful consultation not only with civic Scotland but also with all of those who have become so engaged in the political process as a result of the referendum.

“It is vital that the Westminster parties honour their vow to the people of Scotland to deliver substantial more powers to our national parliament.”