Scottish independence: Henry McLeish says 'voting No has become difficult'

Henry McLeish, former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish is a former Labour First Minister of Scotland

Former First Minister Henry McLeish has told the BBC that voting "No" to independence "has become difficult".

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's The Big Debate, Mr McLeish insisted he would still vote to maintain the Union.

But he said he was unsure what Scotland would get "when Westminster and the new government meet in 2015".

Former SNP leader Gordon Wilson, who backs independence, claimed "there will be people disappointed with the slowness of change".

There has been speculation that Mr McLeish, who was Labour First Minister from 2000-2001, will declare his support for a "Yes" vote ahead of the 18 September referendum.

Blair McDougall, director of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, tweeted after the programme: "Just heard from impeccable source that Henry McLeish endorsing Yes on Monday. Hardly a surprise but he's entitled to his view."

But Mr McLeish described the claim as "absolute rubbish".

In a BBC referendum webcast in April, Mr McLeish said he "would find it nearly impossible to vote 'Yes'."

'Highly partisan'

Asked on The Big Debate if he still intended to reject independence, Mr McLeish said: "I'm a 'No' voter, but I have been honest enough on public platforms and in a new book that voting 'No' has become difficult.

"The debate is very tribal, the debate is highly partisan. We live in a politic environment so there is nothing surprising about that.

"But on the other hand, what I think we have to make sure of in this debate, whether you're voting 'Yes' or 'No' is to try and maybe understand, all of us, the full implications because there's nothing black and white in the world.

"And what I'm arguing for is, if you vote 'Yes' you get independence, if you vote 'No' there's a bit of a hesitation as to what you get when Westminster and the new government meet in 2015."

Pressed on whether he would consider changing his vote to "Yes", he replied that "at this point" he was still voting "No", but added: "It doesn't mean I won't continue to irritate and annoy my own party and others by putting the issues that matter to Scotland."

He added: "This is a debate about the future of our country, not about the future of any individual party in it."

Gordon Wilson Gordon Wilson is a former leader of the Scottish National Party
'Slow change'

Presenter Gordon Brewer asked Mr Wilson, who has been critical of the SNP's campaign for independence, if he would consider voting "No".

Mr Wilson, who led the SNP from 1979 until 1990, replied: "I wasn't entirely in agreement with many aspects of the campaign, because I didn't think it was strong enough in many ways. Having said it has come into line more with my own views in the last few weeks and I hope that will take us through.

"I look at this in the long term. Maybe it's something to do with age, but we're not looking at Scotland's future in terms of one, two, three years. It's five, ten fifteen, twenty years.

"As I put it, the good ship Scotland will slowly leave the UK dock, and there will be people disappointed with the slowness of change that takes place."

He said he backed independence because the rate of emigration from Scotland in the 20th century "shows that the Union is not delivering for Scotland."

More on This Story

More Scotland politics stories

RSS

Scotland Live

  1.  
    10:32: Leg jibe case 'not proven'

    A Galashiels man accused of stabbing a friend in the neck after he had made a joke about his artificial leg has been cleared by a jury.

    They found an attempted murder charge against John Grierson, 27, not proven. He had denied assaulting Michael Mulholland, claiming the injury was accidental.

    Mr Grierson told the High Court in Livingston that Mr Mulholland had called him a "peg-legged pirate" and tried to pull his prosthetic leg off.

     
  2.  
    10:27: Naismith on Rangers

    "It was a horrible situation to be in."

    Steven Naismith

    BBC Sport's Matt Slater speaks to Steven Naismith about his departure from Rangers.

     
  3.  
    10:20: Capture the moment Steven McKenzie BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

    Images taken in Scotland are among the finalists in the Kendal Mountain Festival photography competition.

    They include a photograph of Skye-born stunt rider Danny Macaskill.

    A cyclist on top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle

    The shot was taken by Chris Prescott shows the cyclist on top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle, also known as the In Pin, on the Cuillin Ridge on Skye.

     
  4.  
    10:07: Mending broken Hearts

    Watch Hearts owner Ann Budge discuss her first six months at the Tynecastle club, women in football, the state of the Scottish game and handing power to the fans.

    Ann Budge
     
  5.  
    10:02: Accessible tourism

    Tourism businesses are to be encouraged to make themselves more accessible to visitors with disabilities, older people and young families.

    accessible tourism

    Since 2009-10, accessible tourism spend in Scotland has risen from £325m to £391m, according to VisitScotland.

    But the Highland Tourism Conference in Inverness will hear that there is potential to further increase spending.

    VisitScotland said accessible tourism was an emerging market that involved 1.3 billion potential visitors.

     
  6.  
    09:54: 'I'm A Granite Man...'

    Sir Elton John will play a concert in Aberdeen at a specially constructed outdoor venue next summer.

    Sir Elton, 67, will perform in front of about 14,000 fans on Saturday 20 June.

    Elton John

    The outdoor seated arena will be the first concert staged in this way at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. Tickets go on sale on Friday from 09:00.

    It will be the first Sir Elton has performed in Aberdeen since Pittodrie in 2004.

     
  7.  
    09:47: Do you really need A&E? Morag Kinniburgh BBC News Scotland

    A campaign is under way to help prevent unnecessary trips to A&E departments over the festive season.

    The Scottish government and NHS 24 are urging people to stock up with cold and flu remedies, have enough repeat prescriptions and know the opening times of the local pharmacy and GP.

    Emergency department

    Last winter there was an early start to the norovirus season, an increase in respiratory illnesses and greater pressure on accident and emergency departments at Scotland's hospitals so this year the government and NHS have developed this health-wise campaign.

     
  8.  
    09:42: Rents higher in Scotland

    Property rents have risen faster in Scotland than in England and Wales over the past year, according to a new report.

    Scottish houses

    Lettings agent network Your Move said average rents north of the border were 2.2% higher last month than a year ago.

    Its Buy-to-Let Index found rents in England and Wales rose by just 1.5% over the same period.

     
  9.  
    09:31: Archbishop of Canterbury's Scottish tour The Courier

    The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has visited Dundee and Fife as part of a two-day tour of Scotland.

    Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

    He visited a church cafe project at St Luke's in Downfield, Dundee, which he described as "inspirational" and said his first visit to the city had been a positive one.

    Read the full story here.

     
  10.  
    09:17: National-winning jockey retires

    Grand National-winning jockey Ryan Mania has announced his retirement from the saddle at the age of 25, saying he no longer "got a kick out of winning".

    Ryan Mania

    The Scot shot to fame by winning the Aintree showpiece in 2013 on the Sue Smith-trained Auroras Encore at 66-1.

    Just 24 hours later, Mania was airlifted to hospital following a crashing fall at Hexham, in which he suffered a neck injury.

    Mania has taken a previous sabbatical, in 2011.

     
  11.  
    09:16: More women into work

    Former Scottish Government special adviser and columnist Jennifer Dempsie told Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland that she believed there will be three key themes in Nicola Sturgeon's government programme today: empowering communities, what could be done with additional tax powers for businesses, and social justice.

    "Budget cuts from Westminster have definitely reduced the abilities of the Scottish government, but they have done what they can," she added. "I think what Nicola will be very clear today - the more women we can get into work, the more that will strengthen Scotland's economy."

     
  12.  
    09:15: Tune in BBC Radio Scotland

    Morning Call: Scotland has its lowest crime figures in 40 years - Louise asks - do you feel safer? Have your say 0500 92 95 00.

    Listen live to the programme here.

     
  13.  
    08:59: 'Nuclear graveyard' Giancarlo Rinaldi South Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

    An MSP has warned a Scottish site could become a "nuclear graveyard" if it is chosen to store radioactive waste from redundant Royal Navy submarines.

    Chapelcross

    Chapelcross, near Annan, is one of five possible locations across the UK. South of Scotland Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume said he hoped people would get involved in consultation and reject any plans to use Chapelcross.

    The UK government has pledged that public opinion will be taken into account in deciding the final location. Public meetings on the issue will get under way in the Dumfries and Galloway town this weekend.

     
  14.  
    08:50: Crowdfunding appeal for eyesight app

    The team behind a portable eye examination kit that uses smartphones is crowdfunding to raise funds for its new innovation.

    Eyesight app

    Peek Retina is a smartphone camera adapter engineered at the University of Strathclyde and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

    The company's apps and adapter help tackle avoidable blindness by making eye care widely available, and provide tools for those who cannot reach clinics or hospitals.

    Peek Retina, the team's newest creation, is an adapter that can be clipped over the camera of a smartphone to allow health workers to see inside the eye, save the photos and send them to experts for diagnosis and treatment.

     
  15.  
    08:44: Public service reform sought

    Today will see Scotland's new First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out her programme for government.

    On Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland, John Downie, the director of public affairs for the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations, was asked how he would tackle the issues of poverty and inequality, something Ms Sturgeon pledged at the SNP conference to address.

    "I think we need to think about the root causes of poverty and inequality in Scotland," he said. "That takes us to the way our economy works, at a national and local level.

    "You can't do it by protecting public services. What public services need is reform. We need more control of their own lives, such as control over local budgets.

    "What we need to see is a different way of doing government."

     
  16.  
    08:41: On the move?

    Which English Premier League outfit are being linked with a move for Celtic's Kris Commons?

    Celtic's Kris Commons

    Read the latest football gossip and the rest of the back-page headlines in our newspaper round-up.

     
  17.  
    08:34: Most stop-and-searches 'unsuccessful'

    The majority of stop-and-searches conducted by Police Scotland failed to recover any illegal items, data obtain by BBC Scotland suggests.

    Nearly 85% of the 42,826 consensual searches carried out in August and September 2014 were unsuccessful.

    BBC Scotland has created a searchable database of recent stop-and-search data

    This type of search - which does not require reasonable suspicion - comprised two-thirds of all searches during the period.

    Police Scotland said the tactic had contributed to a reduction in crime.

     
  18.  
    08:32: I'm feline fine...

    A cat has been reunited with his owner after being missing for almost two years.

    Sheen was just a kitten when he disappeared in Bothwell, North Lanarkshire, the week before Christmas in 2012.

    Sheen vanished the week before Christmas in 2012

    Now, after the persistent detective work of Kirsty Adderton who found the stray on her doorstep, the "gobsmacked but thankful" owner has been traced.

    Sheen was in Renfrew, more than 30 miles away from where he vanished.

    His owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the BBC Scotland news website: "I was not thinking of getting a cat in the first place, but I saw one in a litter that was different - scrambling to get out - and I thought 'that is the cat for me'.

    "I had given up. Then, randomly, I got a letter with Kirsty's number."

     
  19.  
    08:27: Tax freeze 'stopgap' James Cook Scotland Correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Former Scottish government adviser @JenDempsie on #bbcgms describing the council tax freeze as a "stopgap". Interesting.

     
  20.  
    08:26: Today's papers

    The Daily Record and the Scottish Sun lead with the news that the father of murdered toddler Madison Horn has been tormented by "sick" jokes about her death on Facebook.

    Newspapers composite

    The National looks at Jim Murphy's "conversion", after the Scottish Labour leadership candidate backed the full devolution of income tax powers - but in an editorial suggests it may be "too little, too late".

    The Herald, meanwhile, focuses on a "postcode lottery" for fertility treatment in Scotland with couples in Glasgow often having to wait more than a year for treatment.

    Read our full paper review here.

     
  21.  
    08:21: Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Road traffic collision on M8 Eastbound at J2 M9 / B7030 Newbridge/Claylands. One lane - lane two of two - blocked between the exit and entry slip. In Queensferry, reports that Kirkliston Road partially blocked by road traffic collision near Scotstoun Avenue.

     
  22.  
    08:18: Missing runner found in Cairngorms

    A 25-year-old runner reported missing in the Cairngorms has been found safe and well after a five-hour search operation.

    Members of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, the RAF and Police Scotland were called in shortly after he was reported missing at about 17:00 GMT.

    The runner was found in the Lairg Ghru area

    The search for the runner, who has not been named, centred on Lairg Ghru area of the Cairngorm mountain range.

    The man was part of a group of six that had set off from the Sugarbowl, near Loch Morlich, together.

    It was understood he became separated and had no torch, map, compass or food with him.

    He was wearing only running shorts and a vest in sub-zero temperatures when he was located by a helicopter.

     
  23.  
    08:13: Coming up... Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    Scottish government figures suggest recorded crime reached lowest level in 40 years in past 12 months. What's behind this? #bbcgms 0815

    Good Morning Scotland

    Listen live to BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme here.

     
  24.  
    08:11: Weather update BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Hi, it's Gillian. Chilly start, 3-5C for most, sub-zero parts of the Highlands. Mist & fog, especially in the Glasgow area, Perthshire, Aberdeenshire & the Highlands. Dry for most of the country today but cloudy, best of the sun in the northwest. Rain will affect the Borders & the east coast. Feeling chilly, at 7C.

     
  25.  
    08:07: Hearts on the move? Brian McLauchlin BBC Scotland

    Finances could eventually force Hearts to move from Tynecastle Stadium, according to owner Ann Budge.

    The Edinburgh businesswoman has been speaking in depth for the first time since her summer takeover.

    Tynecastle Stadium

    Budge explained that one of her priorities was to tackle parts of the stadium in disrepair.

    "But we've got to be realistic and it might be that it's a more cost-effective solution to actually move," she told BBC Scotland.

    "Tynecastle does have something magical about it. If there was some way we could actually do something with the stand, it might be that that would be the better option and I know a lot of people would prefer to stay."

     
  26.  
    08:02: Sturgeon to outline plans Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    Plans for an alternative to council tax are expected to be at the core of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's plans for the coming year.

    Ms Sturgeon promised "radical" policies when she outlines her first programme for government at parliament.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

    A ban on under-18s buying electronic cigarettes is also expected.

    Opposition politicians said the independence referendum had left Scotland "on pause", and action was needed on several fronts.

    The government's legislative programme, expected to include a list of about a dozen pieces of new legislation, may also look at placing a duty on health and social care authorities to own up when things have gone wrong.

     
  27.  
    08:00: Welcome Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and welcome to Wednesday's edition of Scotland Live, as we bring you the latest news and sport between now and 18:00.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

Programmes

  • Ladybird - a robot designed to help with farm workClick Watch

    From weed detecting to a robotic dairy - the tech that could help farmers be more efficient

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.