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Millionaire launches pro-Union campaign to seize emotional battleground

A PRO-Union campaign putting ordinary people at the forefront of the referendum is being launched by a Scots millionaire in order to deliver the emotional punch so far missing from the official Better Together movement.

Instead of "politicians shouting at each other", the creator of the £400,000 No Borders project says it will simply show voters expressing their feelings about keeping the Union.

It will share video testimonials from people who support the UK, who have questions for the Nationalists about independence, and who have ideas about how the Union can evolve.

A website, votenoborders.co.uk, goes live today, with a full advertising launch later this month.

Registered with the Electoral Commission as a "permitted participant" in the referendum campaign, and unaligned to Better Together, No Borders has already raised £150,000 from donors and hopes to raise another £250,000 before September 18.

It has been developed by Greenock-born financier Malcolm Offord, who has donated more than £100,000 to the Conservatives but says the project is grassroots and non-party political.

He said: "This is going to allow the voices of ordinary Scots people to be heard, so they can express their feelings about ­keeping the Union in language which hasn't been heard in this campaign so far. It's not going to talk about technical issues like currency or EU membership, but practical things like passports, the post office, the NHS or families being split up.

"It's about people saying they don't want to separate. If we're going to become two foreign ­countries we will need a border between us. We don't want to put up barriers. [If we vote Yes] we'd take ourselves out of a very secure and comfortable place and be shivering, slightly alone, on the outside. We'd have made it more difficult for ourselves, unnecessarily."

One of the first testimonials is from Elizabeth Bashir, 70, from Cardonald in Glasgow, who says she "loves being Scottish" before adding through tears: "It'll be a sad day if it comes through if it's a Yes vote. I would hate to see it."

Mr Offord, 49, who describes the Union as the "best club in the world" and has given £5000 to No Borders, admitted frustration with the grassroots progress of Better Together had been a factor behind the new group.

He said: "It has been a motivation. But I think what we're doing is complementary and required."

He said he wanted to embolden reticent No voters by reminding them scepticism is part of a healthy Scots tradition going back to the 18th-century philosopher David Hume.

He said: "We're Scots. We know how to say No. We don't believe the first thing we're told. We ask questions. We don't want it to be a negative thing to say No. You're allowed to be sceptical. You're allowed to say, 'I'm not sure about this. I want my questions answered'."

Mr Offord's partner in the project is Fiona Gilmore, founder of Acanchi, a London-based consultancy advising governments on brand management and "country positioning strategy".

No Borders has also recorded a campaign theme featuring two 21-year-old Scots singers, Molly Maher from Ayton and Caroline Hendry from Inverness.

A Yes Scotland spokesman said: "Clearly, this group feels a need to fill a gaping hole in the No campaign which has been fixated on negativity and smears rather than engaging in sensible ­conversation with the people of Scotland."

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