By a Newsnet reporter
As the backlash against the currency threat issued by UK Chancellor George Osborne threatens to derail the campaign against Scottish independence, it has today emerged that the former election agent of Labour MP Alistair Darling has joined the Yes campaign.
According to the Sunday Times the Labour MP's first election agent, Ian Newton, has joined the Yes campaign citing the intervention of the Tory Chancellor as a reason for the move.

The revelation is the latest in a string of damaging blows to the Better Together campaign which is headed by Mr Darling and follows comments from two of the UK's biggest banks - Barclays and RBS - who last week indicated a lack of concern over the prospect of a Yes vote.

However it is the visit to Edinburgh by Mr Osborne on Friday that has dominated referendum exchanges, with both sides seeking to capitalise on the Chancellor's speech.

Initial coverage appeared to place the Scottish Government on the back-foot and Mr Osborne's stance on a currency union was strengthened when Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls publicly backed his Tory counterpart's move.

However the joint stance from the two main UK parties has slowly backfired with growing evidence that most Scots see the Tory/Labour alliance as an attempt to intimidate ordinary Scots into voting No.

That view has been strengthened with comments from senior Labour party figures condemning the threats. 

Former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish issued a strongly worded statement which criticised what he described as the "relentless negativity of the No campaign".  Mr McLeish was joined by Labour MP Austin Mitchell who said the comments from Osborne constituted an attack on the North of England.

The MP for Grimsby tweeted: "Message to all three parties: stop bullying Scotland! The north is watching you and Scotland is our front line. Do them down and you kick us."

Commenting on the growing row over Mr Osborne's speech, SNP MSP Sandra White said it was evidence of "sheer panic" at the heart of the Westminster establishment over the shrinking gap between Yes and No in opinion polls.

She added:

"In what is a deeply embarrassing development for the No camp and Alistair Darling, his first election agent, Ian Newton, has declared that he is now among the many people in Scotland who are moving to Yes in response to George Osborne's threats, and Labour's parroting of the Tories.

"To deepen this embarrassment, veteran Labour MP Austin Mitchell has called on Westminster to stop 'alternatively threatening and patronising Scotland'.

"Last week, former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish called for 'common sense', highlighting that the relentless negativity of the No campaign will bring more people to vote Yes.

"People across the UK are also taking stock of the way Westminster is treating Scotland, and they don't like what they see.  Even the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph are catching on, with yesterday's UK edition of the Daily Mail saying the 'negative, threatening approach…is proving counter-productive' and the Telegraph's assistant editor in agreement that Westminster is bluffing on currency."

The MSP's comments coincided with polls that showed support for a Yes vote surging in the aftermath of the Chancellor's speech.

She said: "And polls last week showed that people across Scotland will not be bullied - with one poll finding the gap between Yes and No narrowing to 4 points, which translates to 48% Yes to 52% No when don't knows are excluded; and another poll showing that Osborne's cack-handed intervention is encouraging people into the Yes camp.

"This lack of respect from Westminster will get the No campaign nowhere. People across Scotland are coming to the realisation that the best response and best way forward is to vote Yes in September."

According to a poll in the Courier newspaper, which asked 677 people: "Have recent statements on the future of the pound changed how you will vote in the referendum?"

42% said they were more likely to vote Yes, 32% said they were more likely to vote No and 27% were unchanged.

A separate poll for the Daily Record asked 561 people: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

The result was: Yes: 40.8%, No: 44.5%, Don't know: 14.7%

When asked, "Would Scotland being prevented from keeping the pound change your vote in the independence referendum?"

18.1% of Yes voters said they would change their vote, but a huge 63.5% of No voters said they would change.  Those who said they did not know stood at 18.4%.

Meanwhile, in a sign that the currency tactic may have backfired badly, the BBC, which initially broke the news that the Chancellor was to rule out a currency union, has signalled a desire to move away from currency onto the issue of the EU.

Today the broadcaster, which has come in for heavy criticism over a tendency to favour the No campaign in news output, invited EC President Jose Manuel Barroso to give his views on the EU membership of a newly independent Scotland. 

Mr Barroso, whose carefully worded views have underpinned many of the EU claims from the No campaign, told Andrew Marr that it would be "extremely difficult, if not impossible" to get agreement from all other EU members on the new membership of a new country that had been part of an existing member state.


# daveniz 2014-02-16 16:21
BBC at it again they got some so called expert who said that in event of a yes vote Scotland would have a weak hand in negotiations with the UK and EU and that the EU members would veto our membership! the BBC potraying it as it would def happen based on something from an expert who clearly didn't back up why he thinks that!
# HistoryPHD 2014-02-16 16:23
I am absolutely raging about that Barroso interview, and the sheer incompetence of Andrew Marr to grasp basic aspects of European politicking and things which have been discussed ad nauseam in relation to the EQ question. You will be hard pushed too find any European lawyer who shares Barroso's analysis, and you will find plenty who side with the Scottish government and more who are somewhere in between.

Marr's failure to ask basic questions to query Barroso's approach was deeply embarrassing for the BBC. Worse he seemed to revel in what was being said and led him right into his remarks. Barroso said exactly what Marr wanted him to. I am left to wonder if this isn't a blatant attempt by the BBC to influence the campaign and try and offer support to the the NO campaign. After pounding YES for all last week with no success it seems they have changed tactics. Is the BBC working for Better Together? It seems so. My indignation for the BBC is reaching new levels.
# WN 2014-02-16 17:09
The BBC has in fact provided some balance to the Barosso/Marr interview, but less prominenc: see

David Edward (now Professor Sir David Edward) followed up a glittering career at the Scottish Bar with a judicial one in the EU courts. He knows what he talking about.
# HistoryPHD 2014-02-16 17:42
Yes he does and I remember meeting him and chatting to him once whilst he was still working as an ad hoc judge in the Inner House of the Court of Session, but I am slightly incredulous that you somehow think an article from 2012 provides balance to the BBC's latest invective.

Sir David Edward is not alone, lawyers have been writing about the EU question for well over twenty years and I could refer you to probably more than 20+ essays, articles and blogs from academic lawyers which directly contradict what Barroso said, and that is before we even enter into a discussion about politics.

The worst bias the BBC perpetrates is bias by omission, and the greatest omission here is basic journalism. I could have interviewed Barroso myself without any journalism training (though I do have a few degrees) and done a better job. This was abject failure by Marr, in fact I'd go further, it was pre-planned political spin.
# Marga B 2014-02-16 16:50
Have other people seen this very interesting blog entry from the Scottish Centre for Constitutional Change (a body I didn't know about, but then from outside Scotland that covers a lot of things!)

It is by Christine Bell of Edinburgh University and says among other things:

"There are several reasons why the new turn towards pre-negotiation is unfortunate and should be publicly resisted."

What is this centre about? It's Westminster funded, apparently, but what is its line?
# Marga B 2014-02-16 18:13
Sorry, wrong link and maybe the wrong thread (currency issues):

Currency reflections: the Legal Issues.
# macgilleleabhar 2014-02-16 16:51
Mr Barroso may find that Scotland outside the EU will be very inconvenient for the Spanish fishing industry.
Would the good folk oot by the Broch and the Blue Toon be delighted to be rid of them?
# bringiton 2014-02-16 17:26
After independence,th e UK state will no longer exist.
There will be two states Scotland and Toryland both of which will have to negotiate terms with the EU if they wish to continue membership.
The terms negotiated by the UK for membership were based on a state which had specific resources.
The easiest way out for the EU would be to recognise both states as being successor and fast track negotiations on rebates etc.
It will be a very hard sell to try and represent England as being the same state as the UK (despite what many in England may think) and many countries will relish the prospect of putting Cameron in his place.
So,it will not be 5 million EU citizens whose rights will be threatened with expulsion but 64 million.
Dream on Barroso.
# Corm 2014-02-16 17:44
I'm with bringiton. Come a Yes we should insist there is no UK/rUK anymore. Only Scotland and England (+its "occupied" territories of Wales and NI). See how the like us insisting a Yes means the end of the ToU. Which it does. Then again I have always favoured the term separation as that's what it will be. ;)
# bringiton 2014-02-16 18:53
England and Spain have made it very clear that should Scottish EU citizens exercise their democratic right to self government,they will act against us.
Neither of these countries should be associated with a community which claims to be based on democracy and human rights.
I despise UKIP but getting England out of the EU would be a good idea for the rest of us democrats.
We should consider forming new alliances with countries who share our values of democracy,human rights and social justice.
Clearly neither England nor the current Spanish government do.
# Briggs 2014-02-16 20:24
Sorry I really don't recall Spain saying any such thing. Have a look at Paul Kavanagh's 'Wee Ginger Dug' blog where there is a plethora of information to prove your contention about Spain is inaccurate.
# balbeggie 2014-02-16 20:26
Barroso said the same thing months ago. It is like recycling of previous scare stories. Barroso's term of office ends on 16th September and he is on the way out.

There is a good video on the Scottish Parliament Youtube site with witnesses to the European Committee there you hear different opinions as to the politician Barroso.
# EphemeralDeception 2014-02-16 21:22
Barosso is on his way out. After the European elections he is a goner. He has stated too many political and false statements against the prevailing views - and thats not even including Scottish independence.

He has been summed up as talking 'Trop de connerie' in France = too much bullshit.
# jamaisarriere 2014-02-16 21:42
It really does try the patience when they hang on every word of a politician leaving office before the referendum, and yet do nothing to press Westminster to simply approach Brussels and settle matters once and for all.
# cjmasta 2014-02-17 00:52
I witnessed the interview this morning whilst getting ready to leave for work. Marr only asked a couple of questions regarding Scottish independence and he knew exactly what Barroso was going to say but he didn`t challenge him on any of his assertions.
I didn`t expect anything else from Marr which is quite sad for someone who probably sees himself as an accomplished journalist. The BBC is a joke and it`s reputation will be left in tatters by the time the referendum has come to pass.
I`ve been spreading the news to the world via video`s on youtube. The video on Craig Murray`s blog regarding Syria is one of the most damning video`s any Broadcaster could ever be exposed for and i`ve been getting the message out regarding their efforts to subvert Scottish democracy by mentioning a quick google of "BBC Scotland bias". I`ve also mentioned this site and "Wings" also.

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