By a Newsnet reporter
A leading figure within the official anti-independence campaign has caused anger after claiming that a victory for Yes will lead to a divided Scotland.
In an article published on the Better Together website, Blair McDougall, who is the official campaign director said that a narrow victory for Yes would be “the worst of all worlds” and would leave a “deeply divided Scotland”.
McDougall wrote: “Extraordinarily SNP strategists are now briefing that they do not expect to take the lead until days before the referendum.
“Think about the deeper truth that lies beneath that bit of spin: the nationalists believe that their best possible result is a narrow victory.
“That would be the worst of all worlds: a legitimate but unconvincing mandate leaving behind a deeply divided Scotland.”
The claim by the Better Together chief that a narrow win would leave an “unconvincing mandate” is sure to prove controversial given the expectation that both sides will accept unequivocally a majority, however small, gives either a clear mandate.
In the article, McDougall refers to his Yes opponents as “a noisy minority” who he says have become “increasingly irrational”.
The Better Together chief also launches attacks on the SNP, accusing the party of being “desperate to manufacture momentum”.
In a reference to the multitude of referendum events being held throughout Scotland, he adds: “[The SNP] are filling community halls with true believers, rallies intended to convince us, and themselves, that Scotland is a nation on the march.
“Faced by a coalition of Scottish society including trade unions, the major business organisations, not to mention thousands of ordinary Scots, the nationalists have become increasingly angry.”
Alleging attacks on businesses who have backed No, McDougall says: “The slick communications machine of the SNP risks deteriorating into an angry rabble organising boycotts and protests.”
Asked by some on social media to justify his claim that a Yes vote would leave Scotland deeply divided, there was no response from Mr McDougall. Others also challenged the Better Together official’s description of all Yes supporters as ‘nationalists’ – the pro-independence campaign includes figures from the Scottish Greens, SSP and people of no political persuasion.
The article was written to coincide with 100 days to the referendum and follows a series of setbacks for the No campaign. Its leader, Labour MP Alistair Darling, has come in for heavy criticism amid accusations his performance has been lacklustre.
In recent weeks Labour heavyweights, such as Gordon Brown and John Reid, have been drafted in in order to try to re-establish some of the early momentum Better Together enjoyed. The re-organisation has also reportedly led to the sidelining of Labour MP Anas Sarwar, who has spearheaded Scottish Labour’s anti-independence drive.
Despite the No campaign maintaining their lead, polls have shown the gap closing as support continues to move in favour of Yes.
However this view was challenged by Mr McDougall who insisted that his No campaign had in fact slightly extended its lead over its Yes rival.
He wrote: “This week’s Ipsos Mori poll is an interesting case in point. At the start of 2012, before the launch of both campaigns, 37% of Scots said they would vote Yes and 50% supported No.
“Today the same pollster finds that independence is backed by 34% and No by 52%.”
Opponents though will point to the most recent poll which showed significant movement towards Yes.
This weekend another survey indicated that the gap between Yes and No had closed to single figures with Populas revealing Yes on 40% and No on 47%.