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Salmond Takes Heart as Carmichael Says Scots May Vote Yes

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said "the reason we're gaining ground is that we are putting forward a positive message about what Scotland can do and can be as an independent country" that will "trump the negativity of the 'no' campaign." Photographer: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said the momentum is behind his push for independence as a senior U.K. minister warned the nationalists are showing more hunger in the referendum campaign.

“Month by month, week by week, poll by poll, we are gaining ground,” Salmond told Sky News television yesterday. “The reason we’re gaining ground is that we are putting forward a positive message about what Scotland can do and can be as an independent country” that will “trump the negativity of the ‘no’ campaign.”

Alistair Carmichael, the minister responsible for Scotland in the U.K. government, said in an Observer newspaper interview published yesterday that it’s “not impossible that the nationalists could win” the Sept. 18 vote. “The arguments we have are positive but we have allowed ourselves to be defined by the other side as negative.”

Two days ago, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne again ruled out Scotland retaining the British pound if it votes to go it alone. Recent polls have shown that the lead held by opponents of independence is narrowing.

Osborne’s position, which is shared by the three main U.K. political parties, came after the Guardian newspaper cited an unidentified minister as saying a currency union would eventually be agreed between the two nations if a split occurs.

‘Campaign Tactic’

“All this bluff and bluster about not sharing sterling is a campaign tactic, a negotiating position, something to scare the natives up in Scotland,” Salmond said. “They’ve based their arguments on whatever they can say or do in this campaign to try and intimidate the people of Scotland out of voting for independence.”

The most recent YouGov Plc poll, carried out March 20-24, showed 37 percent of Scottish voters backing independence, up from 35 percent a month earlier, with 52 percent opposed, down from 53 percent.

“Some have tightened, some have shown our lead extended, but what’s consistent is that we have a firm lead,” Alistair Darling, leader of the No campaign, told BBC Radio 4 today. He was dismissive of the idea that an independent Scotland could use the pound, saying that “the only way a currency union can work is if you’ve got a single government.”

Carmichael yesterday said the pro-independence camp has much more money available for campaigning than the unionists and will press home that advantage with advertising.

“They have got an unprecedented war chest to pour into this campaign,” he told the ‘Sunday Politics’ show on BBC television. “We’ve got to realize what is coming, and as a consequence we’ve got to get our arguments in place and our campaign as sharp as theirs.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Eddie Buckle in London at ebuckle@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net Alastair Reed

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