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Monday, 26 January 2015

The victims of Rotherham’s Pakistani/Muslim child rape gangs to sue?

The victims of Rotherham’s Pakistani/Muslim child rape gangs to sue?

You may have seen in a previous Blog article what the English Democrats have tried to do politically in South Yorkshire as a result of the Pakistani/Muslim child rape gang scandal. (Click here >>> http://robintilbrook.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-lessons-of-south-yorkshire-by.html

On reflection however I thought that, as a lawyer, there may well also be something more that I could do. Something which might even bring some much needed justice for the victims and against the guilty.

I therefore thought to put in a provocative advertisement proposal to South Yorkshire’s media!

You might think (but I couldn’t possibly comment!) that local journalists would be likely to have heard about what was going on. Yet the startling fact is that, with a very few honourable exceptions, there was extraordinary little reporting of these appalling crimes and the scandal of the authorities’ complicity.

In these circumstances I thought the exchange below might well be of interest as it does give an insight into the mind-set of a key local journalist; that is the Editor of the Rotherham Advertiser.

Below is the correspondence. See what you think.



From:RobinTilbrook
Sent: 08 January 2015 17:36
To: Advertising Department at Rotherham Advertiser
Subject: Re: Placement of Advert



Dear Sir

Re: Placement of Advert

I may wish to place an advertisement with your newspaper. Please could you let me know how much this would cost?

To all under age victims of South Yorkshire’s “Grooming” Gangs

If you were a victim of the so-called “grooming” gangs then you may well be in a position to sue, not only the gang members but also all their “clients” for damages for Rape. This could amount to tens of thousands of pounds.

You could also sue the Council for the gross negligence for having left you vulnerable to such exploitation.

Also if the police were involved and failed to act to help you, then you may be able to sue the police too.

You may also be able to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Tilbrook’s Solicitors is a specialist civil litigation firm which could help you make such claims.

Contact Robin Tilbrook of Tilbrook’s on robintilbrook@aol.com or ring 01277 896000.



Yours faithfully




R C W Tilbrook

Tilbrook’s Solicitors





In a message dated 09/01/2015 14:34:51 GMT Standard Time,

rotherhamadvertiser writes:

Hi Robin,



Thank you for your enquiry regarding advertising in the Rotherham Advertiser. The text you have listed below would fit into a 7 x 2 box, or a 5 x 3 box, the cost of the 7 x 2 in the general run of paper would be £93.94 plus VAT, the 5 x 3 would be £100.65 plus VAT.



There are many other sizes available smaller and larger, however the 7 x 2 is the smallest that this amount of words would fit into and still have room to make the setting stand out. If you would like more information then please do not hesitate to give me a call.



Many thanks,


T.M.

From: RobinTilbrook
Sent: 09 January 2015 17:17
To: Rotherham Advertiser
Subject: Re: FW: Placement of Advert

Dear T

Thank you for your email. I am probably interested in placing this advert for £93.94 plus VAT. What more do you need from me?

Yours sincerely


Robin Tilbrook

Tilbrook’s Solicitors

From: rotherhamadvertiser
To: RobinTilbrook
Sent: 12/01/2015 09:15:40 GMT Standard Time
Subj: RE: FW: Placement of Advert



Hi Robin,

Because you have not used us before we do not have a credit account set up for you so I would need prepayment for the advert. I can email a proforma invoice and would need you to pay on a card or by bacs. Let me know how you would like to pay and I will email the invoice and details on how to pay. The deadline for this week’s paper is 3pm Wednesday.

Kindest regards, T.






From: RobinTilbrook
Sent: 12 January 2015
To: Rotherham Advertiser
Subject: Re: FW: Placement of Advert



Dear T



Thank you for your email. Yes if you could send me the invoice that would be fine. However before you do so please could you check with your Editor that the paper will run it as it is a bit controversial?



Yours sincerely



Robin Tilbrook

Tilbrook’s

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



From: T.M.
Sent: 12 January 2015 13:19
To: A.M. Editor
Subject: FW: FW: Please check content is Ok for publishing



Hi A,

Can you check that we are OK to run this advert and let me know as I need to book and take payment.

Thanks, T

To all under age victims of South Yorkshire’s “Grooming” Gangs

If you were a victim of the so-called “grooming” gangs then you may well be in a position to sue, not only the gang members but also all their “clients” for damages for Rape. This could amount to tens of thousands of pounds.

You could also sue the Council for the gross negligence for having left you vulnerable to such exploitation.

Also if the police were involved and failed to act to help you, then you may be able to sue the police too.

You may also be able to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Tilbrook’s Solicitors is a specialist civil litigation firm which could help you make such claims.


Contact Robin Tilbrook of Tilbrook’s on robintilbrook@aol.com or ring 01277 896000.

In a message dated 12/01/2015 13:39:31 GMT Standard Time,

rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk writes:

HI Robin,

Our editor has made some changes would the copy below be Ok with you? Let me know.

T.




From: A.M. Editor
Sent: 12 January 2015 13:38
To: T.M.
Subject: RE: FW: Please check content is Ok for publishing

Hi T,

Maybe something like the below?

A.

If you are a victim of child sexual abuse or exploitation you could be in a position to sue the perpetrators and the relevant authorities you believe let you down and failed to help you.

You may also be able to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Tilbrook’s Solicitors is a specialist civil litigation firm which could help you make such claims.


Contact Robin Tilbrook of Tilbrook’s on robintilbrook@aol.com or ring 01277 896000.

From: robintilbrook

Sent: 12 January 2015

To: TM





Dear T

The revised advertisement is good, but the purpose of my advertisement is to reach those who are victims of South Yorkshire’s Muslim/Pakistani child rape gangs not other types of cases so I would prefer:-



To all under age victims of South Yorkshire’s “Grooming” Gangs

If you were a victim of the so-called “grooming” gangs then you could be in a position to sue, the gang members and all their “clients” for damages for Rape. This would amount to tens of thousands of pounds.

You could also sue the Council for the gross negligence for having left you vulnerable to such exploitation.

Also if the police were involved and failed to act to help you, then you may be able to sue the police too.

You may also be able to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Tilbrook’s Solicitors is a specialist civil litigation firm which could help you make such claims.

Contact Robin Tilbrook of Tilbrook’s on robintilbrook@aol.com or ring 01277 896000.

Yours sincerely



Robin Tilbrook

Tilbrook’s Solicitors




In a message dated 13/01/2015 13:27:01 GMT Standard

Time, Rotherhamadvertisor writes:

HI Robin,

Please see below from my editor. Let me know if this is acceptable.

Many thanks, T



From: A.M. Editor
Sent: 13 January 2015 13:01
To: T.M>
Subject: RE: Grooming Gangs Advert

Hi T,

I’m uncomfortable about saying it would amount to tens of thousands of pounds as it might not. Equally, I don’t think we can name the council or the police. We are probably okay saying “grooming gangs” if that’s the bit he wants in to differentiate between those victims and the victims of abuse from, say, a family member.

Thanks,

A

If you were a victim of the so-called “grooming” gangs then you could be in a position to sue

the perpetrators and the relevant authorities you believe let you down and failed to help you.

You may also be able to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Tilbrook’s Solicitors is a specialist civil litigation firm which could help you make such claims.

Contact Robin Tilbrook of Tilbrook’s on robintilbrook@aol.com or ring 01277 896000.




From: RobinTilbrook
Sent: 13 January 2015 18:54
To: rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk
Subject: Re: FW: Grooming Gangs Advert

Dear T

Thank you for your email. I am a bit puzzled by your Editor’s comment about the amount as this is to be stated in my advert and is not something that he is expected to verify.

I am a Civil Litigation specialist and can specifically confirm that I expect that every finding of Rape would probably attract an award in excess of £50,000. So for one of those girls whose plight was reported on in the Jay Report who has been raped hundreds of times the damages may well exceed £1million.

So far as mentioning the Council and the Police, this is also a basic litigation position. Of course we would sue them whereever sufficient grounds exist as they probably will for the Council in every case where the child was in Care. Where the police were involved and failed in their duty to act, the same applies.

So yes given the significant sums involved I do want the Council and the Police mentioned. I am happy to keep it generic but of course I actually mean Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police. I would add I shall also be carefully considering whether individual Councillors and Council officials are worth 'powder and shot'!

Yours sincerely




Robin Tilbrook

Tilbrook’s Solicitors

From: rotherhamadvertiser
To: RobinTilbrook
Sent: 14/01/2015 09:31:43 GMT Standard Time
Subj: RE: FW: Grooming Gangs Advert



HI Robin,

I don’t think he meant that he would need to verify the amount it was more a case of mentioning large sums that may not be an achievable amount.

However if you are happy to go with the last version then the deadline is 3pm today to get into Friday’s Advertiser. Let me know.

Kind regards, T.




From: T.M. Rotherham Advertiser
Sent: 14 January 2015 10:22
To: A.M. Editor
Subject: FW: FW: FW: Please check content is Ok for publishing

Hi A

He wants to use this one is this OK?

Let me know. T.

To all under age victims of South Yorkshire’s “Grooming” Gangs

If you were a victim of the so-called “grooming” gangs then you could be in a position to sue, the gang members and all their “clients” for damages for Rape. This would amount to tens of thousands of pounds.

You could also sue the Council for the gross negligence for having left you vulnerable to such exploitation.

Also if the police were involved and failed to act to help you, then you may be able to sue the police too.

You may also be able to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Tilbrook’s Solicitors is a specialist civil litigation firm which could help you make such claims.


Contact Robin Tilbrook of Tilbrook’s on robintilbrook@aol.com or ring 01277 896000.

From: rotherhamadvertiser
To: RobinTilbrook
Sent: 14/01/2015 10:59:06 GMT Standard Time
Subj: Please check content is Ok for publishing



Hi Robin,

I am sorry my editor is still unhappy with the phrasing, he has suggested the text below. As you can see from his email he is unhappy with naming the authorities and promising amounts that at this stage cannot be guaranteed.

Let me know what you think.

Kind regards




From: RobinTilbrook

Sent : 14 January 2015

To: Rotherhamadvertiser



Dear T



Thank you for your email. I am surprised by your Editor's comments. We do not need there to have been any arrests for the victim to be able to sue. It is simply a legal fact that these types of cases will attract damages of tens of thousands of pounds. The relevant authorities are the Council and the police so why should I pussyfoot about?



It is very strange that your Editor has made his joke about my sentiments. This is one of the most appalling scandals ever and yet he is concerned about mere nuance!



Yours sincerely



Robin Tilbrook

Tilbrook’s Solicitors






From: A.M.
Sent: 14 January 2015 10:42
To: T.M.
Subject: RE: FW: FW: Please check content is Ok for publishing

Hi T.

He can’t say gang members as there haven’t been arrests, he can’t say tens of thousands of pounds and he needs to say relevant authorities rather than council or police.

The whole sentiment behind the advert and the way he’s phrasing things comes across as cheap and nasty.

I don’t think he can say much more than the below:

If you were a victim of the so-called “grooming” gangs then you could be in a position to sue the perpetrators and the relevant authorities you believe let you down and failed to help you.

You may also be able to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Tilbrook’s Solicitors is a specialist civil litigation firm which could help you make such claims.

Contact Robin Tilbrook of Tilbrook’s on robintilbrook@aol.com or ring 01277 896000.




In a message dated 14/01/2015 15:08:31 GMT Standard Time,

rotherhamadvertiser writes:

Hi Robin,

Sorry to hassle you but we are on deadline now for this week’s paper so if you do want to go ahead I would need to know within the next half hour.

Kind regards,


T.

To: RobinTilbrook@aol.com
Sent: 22/01/2015 15:35:56 GMT Standard Time
Subj: RE: Deadline



Hi Robin,

The editor is not happy for the authorities to be named, so you could put the relevant authorities but not Council or Police. The amount that they could get you said would be tens of thousands but you would have to put could be not would be as there are no guarantees. He is also not willing to print anything that points to any specific cultural group.

If you can word the advert around this then we would be happy to print it. Let me know if you do want to go ahead but I will have to run it by him again once the wording is submitted.

Kind regards,


T.



From: RobinTilbrook
Sent: 22 January 2015 15:14
To: rotherhamadvertiser
Subject: Re: Deadline

Dear T

I am still interested in placing an advertisement in the Rotherham Advertiser, but of course it does have to be wording that is useful and meaningful to me as an advertiser. Please could you confirm with your Editor what the position is?

Yours sincerely



Robin Tilbrook

Tilbrook’s Solicitors

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No reply as yet!



Thursday, 22 January 2015

THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL’S STATE FUNERAL


THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL’S STATE FUNERAL


Peter Hitchens has written a superb nostalgic piece in the Mail on Sunday which I couldn’t better, so I have re-posted it below.

I can however add a personal element, which is that my Father, then a Captain, was one of the Officers of Churchill’s old regiment, the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, who carried his medals, orders and decorations in the funeral procession. My Father is shown in the centre of the above picture above the coffin and immediately on the left of one of the heralds.

The one thing (but rather an important omission) that is missing from Peter Hitchens’ article is the conclusion to be drawn from his final comments. He is right that Britain isn’t that country now but he doesn’t mention that it now serves no useful purpose for the English Nation. It is high time to be rid of it and for England to re-emerge from its choking embrace!

Here is Peter Hitchen’s article:-

So uniquely British, but funeral tells a tale of a different country

What a strange thing it is to see my own memories harden into history, and what is, for me, a vivid and living experience, turn into a blurred and fading piece of film.

Half a century ago, at my strict-regime boarding school on the edge of Dartmoor, we were let off our normal Saturday morning lessons of Latin grammar, French vocabulary, rivers and capitals of South America, mostly taught by fierce, bristling gents with military or Naval ranks.

Instead, we were instructed to sit in rows on hard chairs as the school’s one small black-and-white TV was hoisted on to a high shelf. And for three utterly memorable hours we watched in silence as the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill passed slowly through London.

Outside (and no opportunity was normally missed to make us go outside) it was a freezing day of steely skies and pitiless winds, no small matter if you were forced to wear short trousers, as we all were.

Inside, in the comparative warmth, most of us were, I think, mesmerised, so that we forgot we were watching on a screen not much bigger than a breadboard. I certainly saw and remembered the event as a huge panorama.

Afterwards, we knew, quite simply, that something important had passed from the earth for ever, and that our small country was diminished and bereft.

Nobody who came afterwards would be as we had been before we watched it. By comparison, the assassination of President Kennedy is nothing in my recollections.

Last week, I managed to watch a rare, hard-to-find recording of Sir Winston’s funeral. It is the wrong shape for a modern TV screen, and sometimes the picture swims or blurs.

It is, of course, in black and white, but that only increases the feeling that you are watching something impossibly long ago.

The London of January 1965 is almost as distant from me now as the outbreak of the First World War was from us then. Most of the people who appear in the film are now dead, or impossibly old.

The actual procession looks, at many moments, like one of those jerky old films from the Austro-Hungarian empire that they show to illustrate how hopelessly old-fashioned the pre-1914 world is.

Bluejackets in the sort of uniforms they wore at Jutland pull the gun carriage on which the heavy coffin rests (a tradition in state funerals since the Army’s horses kicked over the traces at Queen Victoria’s obsequies, and sailors ran forward to take over the task).

The cortege moves at a mesmerisingly slow pace, swaying strangely to the music of a dozen military bands, thumping out dirges – occasionally interrupted by those uniquely British parade-ground yells, echoing for miles in the freezing air, as sergeant-majors keep their men in line.

The male members of the Churchill family walk behind the coffin, wearing what must surely be the last black silk top hats seen in London, like a Bolshevik caricature of greedy capitalists.

Lady Churchill, vastly veiled in black, rides in an enormous, sombre coach (lent by the Royal Family, but not from their better-known fleet of gilded carriages).

The coachman riding atop it is cloaked and muffled like something out of the Pickwick Papers, reaching back into a past that some of those present would still just have remembered.

From even further back come the Heralds of the College of Arms, most of them ancient men on sticks, looking a little like animated playing cards in their medieval tabards.

A huge drum horse, loaded with war-drums, leads the bands as its ancestor must have done at Blenheim and Waterloo.

The dead man’s orders and medals, borne on cushions, are carried behind him and arrayed by his coffin when it reaches St Paul’s Cathedral, where it is greeted by a man holding up the City of London’s mighty, ancient, black Sword of Mourning.

It is all so old that it was archaic in 1965, and I doubt it could be done now with a straight face. Yet it would have been as normal in Winston Churchill’s youth as it is outlandish now.

The sense of a last moment of something that is passing is emphasised by the figure of the Queen, not as she is now, but a woman coming to the end of her youth, worn by cares and powerfully moved by the heavy panoply and drapery of death on display.

Beside her, Prince Charles is still an awkward schoolboy.

But in one way the most moving faces are those in the crowds – of men and women then young, now pensioners, and above all, those of the soldiers in the bearer party who struggle, with increasing strain and tension, to lift, carry and lay down the weight of the lead-lined oaken coffin.

These are the days before pizza, milkshakes and sugary drinks fattened and blurred all our features into a bland and puffy sameness.

They look so British, in a hollow, hungry, wartime way, that it almost breaks the heart to see them.

The country they and I grew up in has entirely ceased to exist.



Here is a link to the original Article>>> PETER HITCHENS: So uniquely British, but funeral tells a tale of a different country | Daily Mail Online







Tuesday, 20 January 2015

1215 to 2015 - The 800th Anniversary of sealing of Magna Carta


1215 to 2015 - The 800th Anniversary of king John's sealing of Magna Carta


On Monday, 12th January I was invited by an English Democrats’ Member to be his guest at a splendid black tie dinner at the City of London’s Guild Hall.

The occasion was a perfect one for the Guildhall as a venue. The Great Hall of Guildhall is one of the most historic and iconic rooms, perhaps in the world, but certainly in England. 


This is a room in which many of the important events of English history took place, or were in some way associated with. 

One of those is Magna Carta. 

Therefore a perfect venue for a dinner in celebration of this year’s 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta on the 15th day of June by King John at Runnymede.

The guest list was also impressive and there were many recognisable faces there from the “great and the good”!

We had several speeches. From an English Nationalist point of view, I thought it was interesting that both Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, and the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond MP, both spoke at some length and managed not to mention the dreaded words of “England” or “English” at any point in their speeches. 


The American Ambassador, Matthew Barzun, however then spoke wittily and for, as he joked, less time than any of us 'dared to hope'. He mentioned a dozen times or more England’s unique and crucial contribution to the development of parliamentary democracy and the “Rule of Law”, which I was grateful to note. He made no mention of “British” or the “United Kingdom”!

It would seem that the British Establishment is keen to make out that it still has a commitment to the traditional English concept of the “Rule of Law”. 


As a lawyer I am extremely dubious as to any claim about that. 

It seems to me that the current Establishment’s commitment is to a highly politicised system which maintains only the rituals and vestiges of our traditional civil liberty. 

Despite this questionable position, nevertheless the Establishment intends to make some political capital out of claiming to be the heirs of 800 years of the key document in the creation of the concept of “Rule of Law”. They are also determined to do so without mentioning that it is an English document.

In truth Magna Carta is certainly not a British document by any reasonable stretch of historical imagination. “British” is a concept that would not exist for nearly 500 years after the sealing of Magna Carta.

As I considered the anachronism and wilful ignorance of this Establishment propaganda claim, I also wondered how Scottish people would feel if the British State now sought to claim that the Declaration of Arbroath was a “British” document?


Monday, 19 January 2015

750th Anniversary of the First English Parliament:- 1265 – 2015


OUR PRESS RELEASE

20th January - English Parliament – First Meeting


The English Democrats are calling for all English people to have pride on the 20th January that our Nation held its first meeting of the first Parliament on the 20th January 1265. This Parliament is the ancestor of every Parliament on earth today and is one of the many unique, historic and important contributions the English Nation has made to the foundation of the modern world and in creating representative democracy.

Whilst Simon de Montfort’s Parliament in 1265 was a revolutionary development, subsequent adoption by Edward I of Parliament and its embodiment into Medieval English Royal Government was a reflection of Parliament’s usefulness in getting consent for Royal tax raising powers.

Robin Tilbrook, the Chairman of the English Democrats said:- “Sadly on the 20th January 2015 almost unnoticed by officialdom in England there will pass an anniversary which demonstrates even more than the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, how ancient some of England’s institutions are.”

“The Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort, called his parliament the first proper English Parliament on the 20th January 1265 and so began the progress towards representative democracy.”

“A progress which has been of huge importance, not only in English history, but in the history of the entire modern world and is yet another unique and hugely significant contribution of the English Nation to the culture of the whole human race!”

Robin Tilbrook
Chairman,
The English Democrats

Friday, 9 January 2015

Islamist threat rises to DEFCON 1?


Islamist threat rises to DEFCON 1?


The awareness of the threat from battle-hardened and well-armed Islamists has just leaped into focus, even for our most self-righteous and complacent Leftist media figures!

The Charlie Hebdo assassins were after people exactly like them – Leftist journalists.

As if to rub the lesson home, MI5 has confirmed publically that such an attack here in England is only a matter of time.

R.T. invited me on yesterday for a TV interview about the English Democrats’ response to the Paris assassinations. 


Here is a link to my interview>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0b3qyQKA0A4&feature=youtu.be

What do you think?

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

EVEL – THE BRITISH ESTABLISHMENT TAKES ITS FIRST STEP TOWARDS THE RECOGNITION OF ENGLAND

EVEL – THE BRITISH ESTABLISHMENT TAKES ITS FIRST FALTERING AND HESITANT STEP TOWARDS THE RECOGNITION OF ENGLAND


Last week, William Hague, on behalf of the leadership of the Conservative Party, took the first formal step that any part of the British Political Establishment towards recognising the legitimate grievances of England and the English Nation over their exclusion from the whole devolution process.

EVEL, or English Votes for English Laws, is rather a puffing, faltering little step but as Scottish National Devolution has shown once national recognition has been offered, a process has begun which must inevitably lead in the direction that English Nationalists will approve of.

As was recently pointed out to me by a Welsh Professor of Politics, Plaid Cymru’s traditional position before any party had started to talk about national devolution for Wales was as follows:-

“You’ll recall that the traditional view in Plaid Cymru was that they should say yes to anything that recognised Wales as a unit as that would lead – inevitably – to more. They weren’t wrong!”

In the circumstances English nationalists can unequivocally approve of there being a first step taken by the British Political Establishment. 


We should however be under no illusion that it is done for any reasons of love for England! 

Let us not forget that the person charged with the production of this little concession is the same William Hague who, when he was the Leader of the Conservative Party in 2002 said:- “English nationalism is the most dangerous of all forms of nationalism that can arise within the United Kingdom, because England is five-sixths of the population of the UK." Leopards famously do not change their spots, nor, I suggest, do Brit/Scots like William Hague - even if they masquerade as Yorkshiremen!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

DID HER MAJESTY, THE QUEEN, BEHAVE UNCONSTITUTIONALLY IN THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM?

DID HER MAJESTY, THE QUEEN, BEHAVE UNCONSTITUTIONALLY IN THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM?


The highly respected journalist, Severin Carrell, who writes for the Guardian has published this detailed account of the Scottish referendum campaign. I have put the parts of his narrative that relate to the Queen in bold at the beginning of the article and then reproduced the whole of the article. The reason for doing this is that he states, as a fact, matters which do raise constitutional concerns.

If what he says is correct, then it is at least arguable that the Queen stepped outside of the proper role of a constitutional monarch in intervening in the Independence referendum.

See what you think, but bear in mind that while it is proper for a constitutional monarch to discuss policy with individual politicians and perhaps even to some extent lobby them in the way of trying to persuade them of the monarch’s view, it would never be proper for the monarch to push their view too firmly towards elected representatives, nor should the Queen be seeking to intervene in a democratic decision. It is only by not doing so that the role and position of the monarchy can be maintained in any State which has a claim to be a functioning democracy. It is therefore at the very least of concern that it seems from Severin Carrell’s narrative that the Queen may have over-stepped that very important demarcation line.

First here are the relevant passages relating to the Queen:-

“In a quaint ritual of Britain’s political calendar, the prime minister repairs to the Queen’s Balmoral estate in the Scottish Highlands for a weekend break at the end of every summer. The atmosphere is meant to be relaxed: the prime minister is treated to an annual barbecue served up by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who do the washing up afterwards. Tony and Cherie Blair entered into the spirit during their Balmoral stay in 1999 by conceiving their youngest son, Leo.

But there was a distinct sense of unease this year when David Cameron arrived for his stay on Saturday 6 September. The Queen was taking a close interest in the referendum, and was said to have noted a poll published in the Times earlier that week, which found the no side’s lead had shrunk to only six points.

The news was even worse that Sunday morning as the prime minister came down to breakfast with the Queen – on the day that the banner headline in the Sunday Times declared “Yes vote leads in Scots poll”, reporting the shock YouGov survey putting independence in the lead for the first time.

You could imagine the chilly atmosphere at the breakfast table, the prime minister is said to have remarked to friends afterwards.

One Whitehall source insisted that the atmosphere was friendly, as the Queen resorted to her famous – and at times pointed – humour. “I think there were one or two bits of humour,” the source said. “Obviously it is not the ideal thing to come down to breakfast and there’s the Queen with a little pot of marmalade or whatever and porridge and kippers and you see the headline. I think the Queen, as far as I understand – I mean I don’t know, obviously, none of us know – likes having the prime minister there because he does all the stuff that well brought up young men know how to do. So I don’t think it was frosty. I think there might have been the odd humorous comment over the porridge about supposing he had some work to do next week.”

It turned out that it was not just the prime minister who had his work cut out that week, as No 10 went into “meltdown” – in the words of one senior Downing Street source – as the full (peaceful) force of the British state was mustered to save the union. Senior figures in Whitehall were so worried by the prospect of a collapse of the union that it was suggested to the palace that it would be immensely helpful if the Queen could say something publicly.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, and Sir Christopher Geidt, the Queen’s private secretary, embarked on discussions to work out how the Queen might register her concerns at the prospect of a yes vote while upholding her constitutional duty to remain wholly impartial. The Whitehall machinery was fully apprised of the prime minister’s concerns that the yes side was developing an ominous momentum.

The talks between the most senior civil servant in the land and the palace’s most senior official, the two key figures at the heart of what the Whitehall source described as the “deep state”, focused in the first place on the wisdom of a public intervention by the monarch, who has been scrupulously impartial during her 62 years on the throne. Once it became clear that the Queen was minded to speak out, Geidt and Heywood then needed to fashion some words that would ensure that the she remained within the bounds expected of a constitutional monarch.

I don’t think it was frosty. There might have been the odd humorous comment over the porridge.

Jim Lawson, a veteran freelance reporter who has dutifully covered royal visits to the Scottish Highlands for decades – he remembers covering Prince Charles at Gordonstoun boarding school in the 1960s – got the answer a week later on Sunday 14 September, outside Crathie Kirk, the small church where the Queen attends Sunday services while at Balmoral. As he has done at these events for years, Lawson wandered over to the crowd behind the barriers after the Queen had departed, to harvest quotes from her greetings to wellwishers. To his surprise, one woman disclosed that the monarch had offered a coded warning about the impending referendum, telling her: “Well, I hope people will think very carefully about the future.”

“The Queen looked almost uneasy,” Lawson recalled. “It was strange. [She] didn’t look supremely confident.” When he asked the woman who had spoken to the Queen for her name, a friend standing with her urged her not to reveal it. When Lawson asked her why not, she replied “It’s my job.” For Lawson, this was a first. “It has never happened in my life before,” he recalled. “Normally if the Queen has talked to someone, they’re delighted to give you everything. I was baffled, to be honest.”

Buckingham Palace declined at the time to comment publicly on the Queen’s remarks, but in private, officials were keen for reporters to broadcast every syllable uttered by the monarch. The Whitehall source said that the Queen’s statement was no accident: “She knew exactly what she was doing. There are two possible responses on the referendum: one, you buy into this as a fantastic festival of democracy; or two, you suggest this is a decision filled with foreboding. So by saying I hope people will think carefully, you imply the second. If they’d said: ‘What do you think of the referendum Ma’am’ and she’d said: ‘Oh it’s lovely’, that would be very different. Without her taking a side, it cast just the right element of doubt over the nature of the decision.”

The Queen’s remarks were crafted with great care by the two men at the heart of the “deep state” to ensure that she did not cross a line – as some had alleged she did decades earlier, when she spoke of the benefits of the UK in her silver jubilee address to a joint session of parliament in 1977. In remarks that were seen as an attempt by the Labour government to warn of the dangers posed by the SNP after it had won 11 seats in the October 1974 general election, she said: “I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Perhaps this jubilee is a time to remind ourselves of the benefits which union has conferred, at home and in our international dealings, on the inhabitants of all parts of this United Kingdom.”

It was felt, 37 years later, that it would have been wholly inappropriate for the Queen to make such pointed remarks in the heat of an independence referendum. It was decided that she would make remarks which were wholly neutral but which would leave nobody in any doubt about her support for the union – as she made clear she had no intention of reverting, as Alex Salmond had suggested, to the ancient title of Queen of Scots.

The delicate negotiations explain why the prime minister was so relieved by the result of the referendum, a point illustrated when he told the former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, in an unguarded moment a few days later, that she had “purred down the line” when he informed the monarch that her kingdom remained intact.

The Queen’s intervention showed the stakes could not have been higher for the pro-UK side, which had started the final countdown to the referendum amid rancour, divisions and bust-ups.
........................................
In the end the union was saved, allowing the prime minister to telephone a mightily relieved monarch.”


Here is the full article:-


The real story of the Scottish referendum: the final days of the fight for independence

As the vote neared, Britain’s breakup seemed a real possibility. In the second part of their series, based on extensive interviews with key players, Severin Carrell, Nicholas Watt and Patrick Wintour track the final days of an epic campaign 


In a quaint ritual of Britain’s political calendar, the prime minister repairs to the Queen’s Balmoral estate in the Scottish Highlands for a weekend break at the end of every summer. The atmosphere is meant to be relaxed: the prime minister is treated to an annual barbecue served up by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who do the washing up afterwards. Tony and Cherie Blair entered into the spirit during their Balmoral stay in 1999 by conceiving their youngest son, Leo.

But there was a distinct sense of unease this year when David Cameron arrived for his stay on Saturday 6 September. The Queen was taking a close interest in the referendum, and was said to have noted a poll published in the Times earlier that week, which found the no side’s lead had shrunk to only six points.

The news was even worse that Sunday morning as the prime minister came down to breakfast with the Queen – on the day that the banner headline in the Sunday Times declared “Yes vote leads in Scots poll”, reporting the shock YouGov survey putting independence in the lead for the first time.

You could imagine the chilly atmosphere at the breakfast table, the prime minister is said to have remarked to friends afterwards.

One Whitehall source insisted that the atmosphere was friendly, as the Queen resorted to her famous – and at times pointed – humour. “I think there were one or two bits of humour,” the source said. “Obviously it is not the ideal thing to come down to breakfast and there’s the Queen with a little pot of marmalade or whatever and porridge and kippers and you see the headline. I think the Queen, as far as I understand – I mean I don’t know, obviously, none of us know – likes having the prime minister there because he does all the stuff that well brought up young men know how to do. So I don’t think it was frosty. I think there might have been the odd humorous comment over the porridge about supposing he had some work to do next week.”

It turned out that it was not just the prime minister who had his work cut out that week, as No 10 went into “meltdown” – in the words of one senior Downing Street source – as the full (peaceful) force of the British state was mustered to save the union. Senior figures in Whitehall were so worried by the prospect of a collapse of the union that it was suggested to the palace that it would be immensely helpful if the Queen could say something publicly.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, and Sir Christopher Geidt, the Queen’s private secretary, embarked on discussions to work out how the Queen might register her concerns at the prospect of a yes vote while upholding her constitutional duty to remain wholly impartial. The Whitehall machinery was fully apprised of the prime minister’s concerns that the yes side was developing an ominous momentum.

The talks between the most senior civil servant in the land and the palace’s most senior official, the two key figures at the heart of what the Whitehall source described as the “deep state”, focused in the first place on the wisdom of a public intervention by the monarch, who has been scrupulously impartial during her 62 years on the throne. Once it became clear that the Queen was minded to speak out, Geidt and Heywood then needed to fashion some words that would ensure that the she remained within the bounds expected of a constitutional monarch.

Jim Lawson, a veteran freelance reporter who has dutifully covered royal visits to the Scottish Highlands for decades – he remembers covering Prince Charles at Gordonstoun boarding school in the 1960s – got the answer a week later on Sunday 14 September, outside Crathie Kirk, the small church where the Queen attends Sunday services while at Balmoral. As he has done at these events for years, Lawson wandered over to the crowd behind the barriers after the Queen had departed, to harvest quotes from her greetings to wellwishers. To his surprise, one woman disclosed that the monarch had offered a coded warning about the impending referendum, telling her: “Well, I hope people will think very carefully about the future.”

“The Queen looked almost uneasy,” Lawson recalled. “It was strange. [She] didn’t look supremely confident.” When he asked the woman who had spoken to the Queen for her name, a friend standing with her urged her not to reveal it. When Lawson asked her why not, she replied “It’s my job.” For Lawson, this was a first. “It has never happened in my life before,” he recalled. “Normally if the Queen has talked to someone, they’re delighted to give you everything. I was baffled, to be honest.”

Buckingham Palace declined at the time to comment publicly on the Queen’s remarks, but in private, officials were keen for reporters to broadcast every syllable uttered by the monarch. The Whitehall source said that the Queen’s statement was no accident: “She knew exactly what she was doing. There are two possible responses on the referendum: one, you buy into this as a fantastic festival of democracy; or two, you suggest this is a decision filled with foreboding. So by saying I hope people will think carefully, you imply the second. If they’d said: ‘What do you think of the referendum Ma’am’ and she’d said: ‘Oh it’s lovely’, that would be very different. Without her taking a side, it cast just the right element of doubt over the nature of the decision.”

The Queen’s remarks were crafted with great care by the two men at the heart of the “deep state” to ensure that she did not cross a line – as some had alleged she did decades earlier, when she spoke of the benefits of the UK in her silver jubilee address to a joint session of parliament in 1977. In remarks that were seen as an attempt by the Labour government to warn of the dangers posed by the SNP after it had won 11 seats in the October 1974 general election, she said: “I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Perhaps this jubilee is a time to remind ourselves of the benefits which union has conferred, at home and in our international dealings, on the inhabitants of all parts of this United Kingdom.”

It was felt, 37 years later, that it would have been wholly inappropriate for the Queen to make such pointed remarks in the heat of an independence referendum. It was decided that she would make remarks which were wholly neutral but which would leave nobody in any doubt about her support for the union – as she made clear she had no intention of reverting, as Alex Salmond had suggested, to the ancient title of Queen of Scots.

The delicate negotiations explain why the prime minister was so relieved by the result of the referendum, a point illustrated when he told the former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, in an unguarded moment a few days later, that she had “purred down the line” when he informed the monarch that her kingdom remained intact.

The Queen’s intervention showed the stakes could not have been higher for the pro-UK side, which had started the final countdown to the referendum amid rancour, divisions and bust-ups.

March 2014: Bitching sessions

When the Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson, sat down for a discreet lunch at a Holyrood restaurant with a few close advisers on 27 March, the no campaign still enjoyed a comfortable lead in the polls. But George Osborne’s rejection of a currency union appeared to be backfiring, as the yes side gained momentum in opinion surveys – while Better Together was about to be plunged into “a week from hell”.

Davidson had been lunching with Professor Adam Tomkins, a constitution expert from Glasgow University, Eddie Barnes, her trusted head of communications, and Chris Deerin, a Daily Mail columnist. Craig Harrow, a leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and a Better Together board member, was at a neighbouring table – and when Davidson left her guests to return to her office, he joined the others. It was already a “bitching session”, Harrow said, so he unburdened himself.

He described a major dispute within the pro-UK campaign over the tone of its advertising, its failure to energise middle-class no voters, and its perceived negativity – which pitted Harrow and Phil Anderton, a marketing expert and executive known as Fireworks Phil after he introduced pyrotechnics to Scottish Rugby Union matches at Murrayfield stadium, against senior executives at Better Together, particularly Labour’s chief strategist Douglas Alexander and its Labour chief executive, Blair McDougall. The three Tories were very sympathetic: there had been debates for months about whether Better Together needed to be more positive. “Labour ran [the pro-UK campaign] as a national by-election and we wanted it to have a bit more to it. We wanted a concert, something that took it beyond politics [such as] some of the things you saw develop, some of the celebrity stuff from down south, Let’s Stay Together and all that sort of stuff,” Davidson recalled.

The next morning that story was splashed across the front of the Scottish Daily Mail under the headline “Campaign to save the UK in crisis”, reporting Harrow’s case that “hard-hitting messages about the disastrous consequences of a yes vote appear to be backfiring.” The no campaign had another setback later that night, when the Guardian published a story revealing that a member of the UK government had said that a currency union would be formed after a yes vote.

Alistair Darling and the Better Together campaign are wounded by the yes side’s claim that the NHS would be under threat if the Conservative-backed no side won the referendum. Illustration by Ellie Foreman-Peck

The Guardian story was seized upon by a jubilant Alex Salmond: it was proof, the first minister said, of the UK government’s “bluff, bullying and bluster” over currency. The opinion polls were starting to shift towards yes – some putting the yes vote as high as 46%, and the yes campaign had widened dramatically to involve groups beyond the SNP. such as the National Collective group of artists, musicians and cultural figures, the Common Weal left-green think tank and a new radical left umbrella group called the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC).

Yet behind that upbeat front, Yes Scotland was suffering its own turmoil at its headquarters on Hope Street in Glasgow, leading to increasing involvement from SNP executives and Sturgeon, then deputy first minister and referendum minister.

After a purge of senior staff in 2013, yes campaign chief Blair Jenkins and the SNP, which dominated the pro-independence campaign’s strategy and messaging, sacked the last two executives hired in 2012 as part of Jenkins’s “vastly experienced” team. Sources involved say Jenkins was deeply unpopular among senior staff, who were unhappy about his taking several long holidays; on at least one occasion, staff staged walkouts. There were significant tensions over the campaign’s lack of a clear strategic plan and the factional disputes within.

As the two sides jostled for position over the summer, the yes campaign sought to establish its credentials as a mass movement; in contrasting style, Better Together strived to be seen as sober. The no camp got an unexpected lift at the start of June from US president Barack Obama, who said he hoped the UK would remain “strong, robust and united”. Better Together strategists believed the White House and Obama had been considering for months whether he should intervene: Darling was approached during a visit to Washington for an IMF event in April by what one source described as “very nervous” British diplomats, who were worried an Obama intervention would backfire. The message from Darling was clear: it would be extremely helpful because Americans have more latitude in Scotland than England does. A few days later, JK Rowling donated £1m to Better Together, describing independence as an “historically bad mistake”. It was a crucial gift, largely enabling Better Together to pay for the final 100 days of campaigning – though Rowling was less generous than the SNP’s most lavish funders, the Euromillions winners Chris and Colin Weir, whose donations to yes and the SNP topped £5.5m by early September.

The SNP had hoped that the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, at the end of July, would give the independence campaign a lift by boosting national pride. But non-partisan audiences at the Games treated it as a festival of sport, often applauding English and Welsh athletes as heavily as their own. Salmond broke his own pledge to keep the Games non-political by referring to Glasgow as “freedom city” – an ill-concealed reference to the prediction that Scotland’s largest city was already on the brink of voting yes. In private, discussions of the referendum were unavoidable: on an official bus to the opening ceremony, Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg pressed Ed Miliband to be more ambitious on agreeing to a joint strategy on more powers. But Miliband was reluctant to allow his name to appear alongside the prime minister’s – for Labour, there was a danger of being associated too closely with the Tories.

5 August: Salmond and Darling face off

Two days after the Games ended, and after much wrangling with broadcaster STV, Alex Salmond confronted Alistair Darling in the first televised debate of the referendum – a duel that set the tone for the last six weeks before polling day. In the weeks before their setpiece confrontation at the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow, Scotland’s premier music and drama academy, Darling’s team had been coaching the former chancellor at Better Together’s wood-panelled offices on Blythswood Square.

The two men had never debated each other, and their styles were quite different. A former advocate – the Scottish version of a barrister - Darling was an experienced Commons debater after nearly 30 years as an MP, and had withstood torrid encounters at the dispatch box as chancellor. But he was dry, managerial. Salmond, in contrast, was famous for this rapier wit and putdowns.

Darling was put through training bouts with Scottish Labour’s master of first minister’s questions, the party spin doctor Paul Sinclair, pretending to be Salmond. He also received detailed briefing on how to behave in a TV debate by Scott Chisholm, the broadcasting adviser who had prepped Nick Clegg for his definitive general election debates in 2010.

Distracted by the Commonwealth Games, Salmond was snatching training sessions as he travelled the country, even dragging his team up to Inverness. His colleagues implied that he was under-prepared, but he was also more nervous about the encounter than expected.

Salmond was clearly tired; Darling more aggressive and intense than expected. Despite delivering well-aimed punches on Darling’s lack of detail about future tax powers and Scotland’s viability outside the UK, the first minister flailed on his “plan B” proposals for a currency now that the UK parties had vetoed a deal on the pound, relying on poorly judged quips about no campaigners worrying about aliens invading Scotland.

Darling’s camp had decided to focus their fire on Salmond’s weakness on an independent Scotland’s currency options, now that the UK parties had vetoed a currency union. Darling deployed a line he had written the previous weekend: “Any eight-year-old can tell you the flag of a country, the capital of a country and its currency … you can’t tell us what currency we will have. What is an eight-year-old going to make of that?” The first debate was notable for its unexpected outcome: a Darling victory. A snap ICM poll for the Guardian put Darling head by 56% to 44% for Salmond.

But the no camp’s jubilation was short-lived. The yes team had already begun unfolding a far more damaging campaign for the final weeks: attacking the UK government and Better Together over the future of the NHS.

Better Together officials insist that the decision to focus on the NHS was a panic measure after Salmond’s debate defeat. They were wrong: Yes Scotland and the SNP had put the NHS on their campaign grid months before, after watching the powerful reaction on Facebook and YouTube from yes voters to a speech by Dr Philipa Whitford, a Glasgow-based breast surgeon, claiming that privatisation could kill the NHS within a decade. Within the yes movement, Whitford’s speech had gone viral.

Nicola Sturgeon said the NHS was always in mind. As Scottish health secretary, she had rehearsed the key arguments at an SNP conference speech in spring 2012.

“It was always an argument we intended to make and I am absolutely convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that the reason the Better Together parties reacted so ferociously to that was that they knew how important it was,” Sturgeon recalled. “It was one of the arguments that I think started to shift opinion towards yes.”

It was immensely effective and played very well indeed in Labour-voting neighbourhoods, largely because it triggered a gut anti-Tory reaction and played to Yes Scotland’s conceit that Scots were more socially liberal than England. Yes and no campaigners began hearing the Yes Scotland arguments played back by voters on the doorstep: proof that it was hitting the target. The SNP’s private and unpublished polling had already found that warnings around NHS privatisation and spending in England could flip no voters into yes: one showed that the number backing independence jumped from 45% to 55% when the NHS was raised to voters. “It was very effective,” said Kevin Pringle, the SNP’s director of communications. “It was a very powerful dramatization of what the yes vote was for.

After two weeks of floundering in response, Better Together eventually ended the crisis by asserting that Scottish ministers had complete autonomy over NHS policy and spending in Scotland. But Blair McDougall, the chief executive of Better Together, admitted that the NHS issue cost the no campaign up to three points on referendum day, losing it some 110,000 votes. A senior Scottish Tory source, and other no campaign executives, put the damage higher, estimating that without the impact of the NHS campaign and Darling’s hammering in the second TV debate, the no vote could have hit 60%.

Welfare issues and the Tories’ toxic reputation in Scotland were serious problems for the no campaign: remarkably, Darling had managed to block Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory secretary of state for work and pensions, from coming to Scotland in April 2014 to launch the Scotland Analysis paper on welfare and pensions.

The NHS campaign fuelled an upsurge in mass events by yes activists and supporters, who swelled a series of demonstrations in Glasgow’s George Square, and Buchanan Street, where they gathered under the statue of Labour’s first first minister, and the father of devolution, Donald Dewar.

By the second debate, staged by the BBC in the Edwardian grandeur of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and screened live across the UK and overseas, Salmond was in sharper form and better briefed, largely thanks to Sturgeon.

Pringle argues that Salmond is more self-critical than his enemies realise: “Alex is most often at his best when he is in a situation of adversity. When things are going very well he sometimes gets a bit impatient as to why they are not going better, but he was actually very calm after the first debate,” he recalled.

Faced by a more combative, vocal audience, Darling was comprehensively outboxed, appearing wooden and incoherent. Salmond hit him with well-aimed jabs over the alliance with the Tories, increasing poverty, and the vague offer of extra powers. Afterwards, Better Together were furious, blaming the BBC for shambolic security which allowed yes campaigners to confront Darling as he arrived at the Kelvingrove, and poor screening that seemed to result in two-thirds of the audience being ill-disciplined yes voters. It went very badly for Darling. An ICM snap poll for the Guardian gave Salmond a convincing 71% to 29% victory.

2 September: Poll dancing

The Westminster elite, who had assumed that the referendum would be easily won by the no side, started to stir when the shadow cabinet minister Jim Murphy suspended his 100 town Irn-Bru crate speaking tour at the end of August in the face of intimidation from yes supporters. But the first major jolt that woke London from its slumber came on 2 September, when a YouGov/Times poll found that the no side’s apparently impregnable lead had shrunk from 14 points to six in under a month. Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat bruiser who had been drafted in as Scotland secretary a year earlier to confront Salmond, told the cabinet on the morning of the poll that the union was in grave danger. “This was a time to hold your nerve and to take the prospect seriously but we had to stick to the strategy,” Carmichael said of his intervention. Later that week, a meeting of the “quad” – the coalition’s senior members – was called to hone the message on the risks posed by independence. The government’s aim was to counter the threat from the yes campaign by fleshing out new powers for the Scottish parliament. On the following Sunday, 7 September – while Cameron was visiting the Queen at Balmoral – the referendum finally became a story of global proportions when a YouGov/Sunday Times poll put the yes side in the lead for the first time – by 51% to 49%. “God, it was nerve-racking, I don’t ever want to go through that again,” Danny Alexander said.

But UK ministers and senior civil servants had already had private warnings about the sharp surge in yes support. Because of the unprecedented threat posed by independence to the future of the UK and the state, the Cabinet Office commissioned more than £537,000 worth of extremely detailed but unpublished polling from Ipsos Mori between May 2013 and the end of the campaign – at one stage paying up to £100,000 a month for these surveys, in what is believed to be a record sum spent by Whitehall tracking one political event.

Those Ipsos Mori surveys, which included conventional opinion polling, focus groups, and qualitative attitudinal research into how voters behaved, had tracked the rising support for yes since chancellor George Osborne’s currency zone veto in early 2014. They also echoed the sudden sharp rise in yes support in the closing weeks of the campaign, and confirmed what YouGov and TNS BMRB had discovered: that the referendum vote was too close to call. The Cabinet Office refused to publish the poll findings, insisting they were wholly confidential, and it is now vigorously resisting freedom of information act requests for disclosure.

Ipsos Mori executives had also briefed Whitehall that the last Quebec independence referendum suggested that polling figures could exaggerate support for yes – Ipsos Mori staff in Canada had advised their UK colleagues to assume that on polling day, undecided voters would break two to one for no; that had been the experience in Quebec, where the polls had over-estimated the pro-independence vote. In hindsight, the Better Together chief executive Blair McDougall described the YouGov polls as a “godsend”: “Those two YouGov polls were the best thing that happened to the campaign in terms of making the economic risk real, in terms of energising activists and getting the parties to work through the painful process of sorting out this stuff,” he said.

8 September: Gordon takes a Vow

The new urgency of the pro-UK campaign saw the return to the frontline of the man who had suffered Labour’s second-worst election defeat since the introduction of suffrage. Gordon Brown had delivered many speeches on the referendum, but they had barely received any attention outside Scotland – until he roared into action in a speech on the evening of Monday 8 September in the small Midlothian town of Loanhead. Addressing a packed meeting of Labour supporters at a miner’s club, Brown said, “What people are looking for is a timetable, a plan, a mechanism for delivery and a clear idea of what would happen after a no vote.” His crucial intervention was to provide wavering voters a guarantee that further devolution would be delivered on a clear timetable, with a broad plan finalised by the end of November and a final agreement reached in January 2015. The former prime minister had managed to fire up natural Labour voters, after a month in which it seemed the key theme of the no camp – the danger posed by independence – had been seized by the yes side, as Salmond hammered on the risks to the NHS if Scotland remained in the UK. There was also the small matter of Labour’s neglected base in Scotland. “We realised that the Labour party in Scotland was a bit like the Russian army in the first world war,” a Downing Street source recalled. “Superficially it was impressive but the reality was it wasn’t there in numbers or in fighting energy.”

The “silent nos” – Better Together’s description of the voters who eventually swung the referendum – were mobilised in what will be remembered as one of the most gripping weeks in modern British political history. The shock YouGov poll on 7 September prompted a fall in sterling and knocked billions off the value of companies with exposure to Scotland. One government source spoke of “an air of disbelief” among senior officials in Whitehall. The source added: “So [there was] disbelief, helplessness, a sense among the senior civil servants that, Christ, if this goes the wrong way, we have got our work cut out.”

Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander, the Scottish shadow foreign secretary, were so alarmed that the Labour leadership suggested to David Cameron that they should abandon prime minister’s questions at Westminster and travel instead to Scotland. It was a difficult judgment call: the pro-UK leaders’ trip north of the border risked looking “heavy-handed”, according to one government source. In the end, the three main party leaders travelled separately to Scotland in a move that eventually won widespread praise from the no side. “On balance I still think it was the right judgment in that it robbed our opponents of the argument that somehow the choice was for us as Scots but the consequences wouldn’t fall elsewhere and it rendered transparent the fact that the whole of the UK was engaged,” Douglas Alexander said.

Alex Salmond mocked the “total disintegration” of the no campaign, but day by day, Better Together was moving into gear as business leaders at last began to voice their private concerns about the dangers of independence. As shares in Scottish companies tumbled, Danny Alexander and Paul Sinclair, a senior aide to the Labour leader in Scotland, cooked up a headline that made the front page of the Daily Record – the key paper to reach out to core Labour voters: “Salmond’s Black Wednesday”.

But the defining moment of the final phase of the campaign came six days later when Gordon Brown persuaded the Daily Record to emblazon across its front page a declaration by the leaders of the three main UK parties that they would start the process of delivering “extensive new powers” to the Scottish parliament. The Vow, which appeared on mock parchment paper on Tuesday 16 September, was so named by imaginative editors. But it was almost wholly the work of Brown, who is credited with doing the most in the final two weeks of the campaign to stabilise the no vote and save the union – in the words of the veteran Whitehall watcher Peter Riddell, it was “Gordon’s second premiership”.

Douglas Alexander, who had been drafted in by Darling to take day-to-day command of Better Together in its final months, was in regular contact with the prime minister’s Scotland adviser Andrew Dunlop in the negotiations over the Vow. But Downing Street was also kept informed by another route – Brown sent regular emails, in his trademark capital letters, to senior civil servants including Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary. Cameron also spoke to Brown in the final stages of the negotiations over the wording of the Vow, though their conversation focused on the prime minister’s final speech of the campaign, in Aberdeen on Monday 15 September. The prime minister had sent the man he dislodged from Downing Street a copy of his speech, asking for suggestions. These were then incorporated into the speech, in which Cameron warned that independence would lead to a “painful divorce”.

A Downing Street source says the prime minister took an “indulgent” view of his predecessor. Recalling their telephone call ahead of the Aberdeen speech, the source said: “Gordon Brown couldn’t resist saying I’m the saviour of the world and you take my advice. I think the prime minister’s view was indulgent – that is Gordon, Gordon has a role to play, there you are. It wasn’t the case that he felt, why is this man so central to this situation? It was just, we’ve got to win, he has a part to play, if I have to cope for half an hour as he tells me why the campaign should have been run in an entirely different way, then that’s fine, OK I’ll do that.”

Douglas Alexander, a former protege who fell out with Brown over the abortive plans to call a UK general election in 2007, experienced something of a reconciliation with his mentor, whose role he likened to that played by the Quebecois former Canadian prime ministers Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Jean Chr├ętien in the closing stages of the 1980 and 1995 Quebec referendums. “I was clear that we needed a Scottish voice closing the campaign, the most powerful and eloquent voice that we had in our side of the argument was Gordon, and that was why we scored him for the closing days of the campaign.” A self-confessed political anorak, Alexander’s study of the Quebec referendums also provided an answer to one of the dilemmas of the pro-UK campaign: how to dress up No as a positive message. Pierre Trudeau, Alexander discovered, had made his final speech in front of a banner saying “Non Merci”. Alexander says: “As soon as I found ‘Non Merci’ we put that into qualitative research and it tested out the park. I mean, one of the ways you can tell in a campaign that your messaging is working is when your merchandise flies out the door, and just as soon as we produced ‘No thanks’ badges, buttons, leaflets, they flooded out.”Following a series of successful public appearances, Brown gave a barnstorming speech in a community hall in the Maryhill area of Glasgow on the eve of the poll in which he warned that independence would be irreversible: “Once it’s done, it’s done.” Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats who watched the speech from the stage, was blown away. “I thought he was going to chew the heads off everybody in the front row, he was that dynamic.”

Brown had, in fact, first raised his concerns with Cameron and Osborne more than two years earlier, in March 2012, complaining that the SNP had been allowed to set the terms of debate by framing the referendum as a clash between Scotland and London. Brown warned the pair who had ended his premiership that the majority of Scots now felt more Scottish than British, and suggested English politicians wrongly believed these identities to be equivalent north of the border.

Leading figures in the no camp found it hard work to pin down Brown on his plans during the campaign. “As ever with him, you dance through intermediaries,” one source said. But in the end they were immensely thankful for Brown’s interventions, though his impact was not clear until the last hours.

The final polls – and the visible jitters among the British elite – gave the yes side confidence that they were on course for victory. But Pringle acknowledged that amid the excitement, the yes campaign failed to appreciate the late surge for no.

Sturgeon said voters were subject to an “onslaught of fear-mongering” after a second YouGov poll gave the yes side a lead. “The Vow and [the poll] came together for enough people who in their hearts probably wanted to vote yes, but for reasons that I totally understand, were scared of what they were being told might be the consequences. Suddenly they had something that sounded as if it were the safer option to give them a lot of what they wanted, but without the risks,” Sturgeon recalled. “If that poll had been the following Sunday we’d have won. It was too soon. We had private discussions in our campaign meeting about not wanting to go ahead too early.”

The mood in the Better Together camp in the final days was supremely nervous. Ed Miliband was forced to abandon a walkabout in an Edinburgh shopping centre as pro-independence supporters drowned him out with cries of “serial murderer”. In the final days of the campaign the Labour leader struggled to move much beyond his hotel.

“[The SNP] presumed that the closing 10 days of the campaign would be a cavalcade towards independence,” said Douglas Alexander. “They wanted to suggest Better Together was in a perpetual state of crisis and that ever more support was coming to ‘yes’. So when we set out the strategy – ‘faster, safer, better change’ on the Monday evening, they had very little in their locker to push back with.”

18 September: Up all night

A period of almost unbroken sunshine ended on the eve of referendum day, forcing voters to trudge through the rain when the polls opened at 7am on Thursday 18 September. Undeterred by the return to normal autumnal weather, voters came out in their millions to record the sort of turnout (84.59%) unseen in a UK general election since 1950 when 83.9% of voters turned out.

The yes side thought their chances were strong as vast numbers of supporters turned out. “It felt to me on polling day as if we were winning,” one SNP source says.

But the Better Together camp knew they were in a strong position after the final polls gave them a lead and the postal vote returns showed they were comfortably ahead in areas where they could have faced trouble. By midnight, after a YouGov poll suggested a 54%-46% no win, the momentum was clearly with the no camp. Muted celebrations became a little more joyous around 1.30am when tiny Clackmannanshire, which had been in the sights of the yes camp, voted for the union by 53.8% to 46.2%.

Salmond was pictured looking dejected as he was driven from his north east home in the early hours for the flight down to Edinburgh (aides later said he was simply monitoring results on his iPad). Hundreds of miles south in London the atmosphere was looking up in Downing Street where George Osborne had hosted a takeaway curry dinner for the prime minister and their close aides in No 11 in the final hours of polling. The Tory leadership were so nervous about the results that camp beds were brought in for staff to ensure that everyone was on hand if the prime minister had to go out into Downing Street to admit that he had outdone Lord North, the prime minister who lost the North American Colonies, by losing the United Kingdom.

In the end the union was saved, allowing the prime minister to telephone a mightily relieved monarch.

Amid the rejoicing, the unlikely allies who had secured victory for the no campaign would soon be back at each other’s throats, after Cameron seized the moment of triumph to play the English card – providing the SNP a quick route back from defeat. But one prominent Scottish unionist urged that the outcome not be forgotten. “The dream that Salmond had campaigned for all his life had come to a halt,” said Lord Strathclyde, the former Tory leader of the House of Lords. “He had done everything in his power to make sure that the vote went his way. He decided the date of the referendum, he decided the length of the campaign, he decided the question, he changed the franchise so that schoolchildren had got a vote, he was wholly in control of the Scottish government and the civil service. There was nothing more he could do. So he lost. The people have spoken. The sovereign will of the Scottish people has been heard. A once in a generation – once in a lifetime – opportunity occurred in September, and the decision is final.”

Here is the link to the original article:- The real story of the Scottish referendum: the final days of the fight for independence | Severin Carrell, Nicholas Watt and P