Darling challenged to condemn EU membership scares

Leader of the anti-independence campaign Alistair Darling is under pressure to publicly condemn those in the No camp who have stated that an independent Scotland would be outside the EU after asserting today that nobody had ever made such a claim.

In an interview on the Sunday Politics, a rattled Alistair Darling denied that anyone in the No campaign had said Scotland would not remain a member of the EU, stating “I don’t think anyone has ever argued that Scotland wouldn’t get back in, the big question is the terms and conditions that we would have to meet.”

Yet earlier this year LibDem leader Willie Rennie claimed precisely that, stating that “if even just one country says no, it does not matter how loud Alex Salmond shouts, Scotland will not be in.”

Mr Darling also failed to offer a firm guarantee of more powers for Scotland in the event of a No vote, underlining the failure of the No campaign parties to agree on a shared position to offer people in Scotland.

Later in the interview, Alistair Darling also refused to distance himself from remarks comparing Alex Salmond with Kim Jong-Il, a dictator responsible for the deaths of millions. Mr Darling attempted to shrug off the slur saying “poking fun at somebody, you know, is part and parcel isn’t it of normal debate? “ - despite having personally called for a respectful debate on numerous occasions.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stuart McMillan said:

“This was a bizarre interview from an increasingly rattled looking Alistair Darling.

“Despite his bald assertion that the No campaign has never said that Scotland wouldn’t be in the EU, the fact is that it is a scare story that has been repeated constantly, including by those who should know better like Willie Rennie.

“It seems that Mr Darling has no idea what his own campaign is saying to people in Scotland. Will he now publicly reprimand those in the No campaign who have been peddling this myth to people in Scotland?

"The simple fact is that the biggest threat to Scotland's continued place in the EU comes from the in/out referendum being planned by the Westminster parties.

“What was also particularly telling from his interview was the fact that Alistair Darling repeatedly refused to offer any guarantee of more powers for people in Scotland in the event of a No vote.

“It is simply further confirmation that the No camp’s failure to reach a shared position means that they cannot be trusted to deliver additional powers for Scotland.

“The only way to ensure that Scotland gets the powers we need to make Scotland a fairer, more prosperous country is with a Yes vote in September.”

On Mr Darling’s failure to distance himself from his distasteful remarks comparing Alex Salmond to Kim Jong-Il, Stuart McMillan added:

“This referendum debate needs to be a respectful one and Alistair Darling’s comment comparing Alex Salmond to a mass-murderer is beneath him. If he cannot bring himself to acknowledge it was a silly and abhorrent thing to say, then that is extremely disappointing.”

Alistair Darling’s interview can be viewed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0477936/sunday-politics-scotland-0... (14:43)

Details of his comparison of Alex Salmond to Kim Jong-Il can be viewed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-27696811

In February this year, LibDem leader Willie Rennie stated that “If even just one country says no, it does not matter how loud Alex Salmond shouts, Scotland will not be in.” http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/impossible-for-scotlan...

Meanwhile Labour leader Johann Lamont stated that "The reality is that a separate Scotland would find it extremely difficult to join the EU." http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/scotland/scots-eu-bid-extremely-difficu...

Previously former Europe Minister Peter Hain had said that Scotland "might not get back into the EU because I suspect the Spanish will veto it." http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/304495/Spain-will-not-veto-an-independe...