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by GK Strategy 6th August, 2014

Scottish Independence – Game On

Did it really come as a surprise to anyone when Alex Salmond broke his promise not to politicise the Commonwealth Games quicker than a Usain Bolt sprint? With just over six weeks to go until voters go to the polls to decide on the future of Scotland, it was hardly unexpected when the First Minister reverted to his ‘Braveheart’ rhetoric. And he wasn’t the only one. It’s often difficult to keep politics and sport separate, as swimmer Daniel Wallace proved when he quoted his Braveheart namesake (or at least Mel Gibson’s interpretation) by shouting “for freedom” after winning a gold medal for Scotland.

The question is whether this wave of patriotism will have an impact on the outcome of the referendum or not? Where the games do pose a threat to the No Campaign is if pro-independence politicians are able to “feed off” the Glasgow Games and the national pride they will undoubtedly generate. With opinion polls suggesting that the gap between the yes and no vote is narrowing, the Better Together campaign may need to switch emphasis from the negative campaigning we have seen to date to a far more positive campaign focusing on outlining the benefits of a united nation.

The Better Together campaign has been accused repeatedly by its critics and by some supporters, including Charles Kennedy, the former UK Lib Dem leader, of being too negative, with too many attacks over North Sea oil, the banks and currency. Some commentators have now called for a “sunshine strategy” to counter the repeated typecasting of the pro-UK campaign as “Project Fear” by independence campaigners after a leaked internal memo from Better Together used the phrase last year.

Only time will tell the exact impact the Games will have on the outcome of the vote; however, with even Usain Bolt being asked in a press conference about his views on Scottish independence, it’s clear that the Games have succeeded in getting people from all over the globe talking more about the referendum and the future of the United Kingdom.

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