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Putting the case for the Union

A Better Together campaigner outside the launch of the organisation's 100 Days to Go campaign at Community Central Hall in Glasgow. Photo: PA

A week or so ago I blogged on how the ‘Yes’ side in the independence referendum believes it can win on September 18.

With a week being a long time and all that, it’s time to look at the other side of the argument.

So how do the ‘No’ campaigners plan to ensure their opponents end up on the wrong side of history?

As with the ‘Yes’ campaign plan, at its heart the strategy to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom is pretty simple.

Politicians from all three main Unionist parties I’ve spoken to recently believe their organisation and message are just as good as the ‘Yes’ campaign which has, up to now, been getting the plaudits.

First, the organisation. The ‘Yes’ side have made much of the so-called ‘ground war’ - having the ‘troops’ to get out on those famous doorsteps to win over undecided voters.

One senior pro-Union figure I spoke to was very happy for ‘Yes’ to be boasting about that but was adamant that the ‘No’ side was just as organised. “We just not crowing about it”, I was told.

Of the parties, Labour is said to be countering the big push for their voters - mostly in the less well-off parts of Scotland - which the ‘Yes’ side has made much of.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and Margaret Curran MP with a 'Voting No. Best for jobs' poster Credit: PA

The Tories are said to be re-energised by the fight for the Union. They are, after all, the Conservative and Unionist party.

And the Liberal Democrats, they’re just glad they can put the last Scottish election behind them and put the case for home rule, a cause historically dear to their hearts.

What then of the message? The umbrella group Better Together is absolutely sure the phrase ‘best of both worlds’ plays well with voters. That’s why you’ve heard it so often.

Credit: PA

It goes roughly like this: “We have a strong Scottish parliament - in charge of health and education - but still but get the benefits of economic strength of the larger United Kingdom.”

Be prepared to hear that again, and again, and again. And again. Oh, and again. As the old adage goes, the politicians have to be sick of the message before it gets home to the electorate.

And it is the strength of the UK, as the pro-Union campaigners see it, that is one of the key areas where they have the edge over those who back independence.

They claim that when push comes to shove, Scots voters are not convinced by the SNP’s claims that, for example, an independent Scotland would have a fairer benefits system.

Voters, the ‘No’ side say, are also convinced of the argument that pensions and social security are better provided at a UK level. A larger entity, the UK, provides more security.

The ‘No’ side say that despite what the “Yes-ers” say when you scratch below the surface a lot of Scots really rather like the United Kingdom and being British.

A 'no' campaign banner in the Scottish Borders Credit: PA

Finally, many ‘don’t knows’ are people who will be saying ‘No’ but don’t feel able to say so for fear - the pro-UK side says - of being seen as negative or when all their friends and colleagues appear to be ‘Yes’ supporters.

So that’ the theory.

Click here to read my earlier blog on why the ‘Yes’ side is so confident.

Not long now, before you know who’s right and who’s wrong.