The Scottish independence referendum blame game has begun

Andrew Grice (edited@IndyPolitics
Wednesday 17 September 2014 10:50

The knives are being sharpened, the blame game has begun. Even before we know the result of Thursday's independence referendum, politicians have started scrambling to get their excuses in first.

Here are seven people being lined up as scapegoats for the split of the union...

1. Margaret Thatcher

Some Labour figures have summoned up the ghost of Thatcher, claiming she created fertile territory for the Scottish National Party by allowing Scotland’s industries to die; imposing the poll tax a year earlier than in England and Wales and opposing devolution.

2. Tony Blair

Sir John Major last week pointed the finger of blame at Mr Blair, saying his Government left “a deadly legacy” by creating the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

3. John Smith

But Mr Blair was no fan of devolution - he inherited a firm pledge to set up the Edinburgh parliament from John Smith, his predecessor as Labour leader, who died in 1994. Mr Blair sometimes raised doubts.

4. David Cameron

Is David Cameron to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum? With opinion polls suggesting that only about a third of Scots favoured independence, the prime minister judged that a straight choice between Yes and No would settle Scotland’s future for a generation. That gamble may not pay off.

There is mounting evidence that Downing Street underestimated the prospect of a Yes vote until a poll put it ahead just 10 days ago, forcing the three main parties to rush out their “devo max” plan.

5. George Osborne

Some Tory MPs blame George Osborne, the Chancellor, for this negative approach, saying his trump card of ruling out a currency union with an independent Scotland turned out to be nothing of the sort.

6. Alistair Darling

Better Together, led by former chancellor Alistair Darling, has been hampered by infighting and personal feuds between the Labour figures who dominate it.

Until late in the day, Gordon Brown did his own thing rather than work with Better Together, which he judged badly run, lacking campaigning nous and too close to the Conservatives. “He loathes many of its leading lights – Alistair Darling, Douglas Alexander, Jim Murphy, John Reid,” one Labour source admitted.

7. Ed Miliband

Lib Dem and Tory figures claim that Ed Miliband has failed to get over his message in a country where his left-of-centre pitch and belief in radical economic reforms should enjoy wide appeal.

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