On Monday afternoon, 97 days from the Scottish independence referendum, former UK chancellor Alistair Darling visited St Andrews to set out the case for union.
The event, hosted by the University, was billed as a “positive case” for Scotland remaining in the UK – though Mr Darling made clear that the “risks” of independence were a major objection. In particular he cited his experience as chancellor during the financial crisis, claiming that the failing RBS could not have been bailed out by an independent Scotland.
Mr Darling argued that as a union the UK was unique. He said that Scotland sends “more goods to Yorkshire than the US” and that the fluidity of movement and trade within the borders of the UK are key to Scotland’s economic success.
He argued out that the choice was not between “status quo and change”, pointing out that all three major parties are committed to further devolution should Scotland vote to remain within the UK. This makes it a choice between change within the UK or change outside of the union, he said.
After the speech there was a question and answer session chaired by Louise Richardson, the principal of the University, during which Mr Darling said he believed that the uncertainty created by the referendum had already affected institutions such as the Scottish health service.
Despite some probing questions from his own supporters about whether the Better Together campaign had “enough fire in its belly,” the session also had lighthearted moments. In response to a question about why the English football team was being promoted by the BBC, Mr Darling said that he held out hope that in four years’ time the BBC would also be able to promote Scotland’s world cup matches.
The University previously hosted Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy first minister of Scotland, to speak on behalf of the Yes campaign.
All photos: Henry Legg