ALEX Salmond has been warned by an opponent not to use the Commonwealth Games to promote Scottish independence as politicising the event would "take the shine off Glasgow's moment".
With the start of the 2014 Commonwealth Games three days away, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has insisted he was confident the event would be a "massive success" because it was being held in Glasgow, which had a great community spirit.
"The city has this fantastic warmth in the way it approaches big events. I think back to the times I worked in bars, restaurants and hotels in Glasgow in the mid-1980s.
"That was when these big events were beginning to happen; the Glasgow Miles Better campaign, the Glasgow Garden Festival, the City of Culture and we started attracting sporting events. People said it was fantastic; the warmth of welcome and the quality of service is something you only get in Glasgow."
The Secretary of State warned the First Minister that it would be "exceptionally foolish" for him to use the games to promote independence, saying any attempt by anyone to try to politicise the event would be an "enormous mistake and a misjudgement of the mood, especially in Glasgow".
He stressed: "People in Scotland will react badly to anybody who tries to make political capital from the endeavour of sportsmen and women."
But asked, did not the UK government make political capital out of the London Olympics to promote the union two years ago, Mr Carmichael replied: "What the Olympics did - and it was not anything the Government did - was to remind people of what it meant to be British.
"It was a very timely reminder to see the likes of Andy Murray, Chris Hoy and Katherine Grainger competing and winning as part of Team GB. Here were people we knew and were proud of as Scots performing as part of Team GB. So it was a reminder that we have got more than one identity and for most of us who are not nationalists, most of us were quite happy having at least two identities."
He added: "These games are really going to be Glasgow's moment and I'm not going to be trying to take any shine off Glasgow's moment and I don't think anybody else should try either."
As the polls continue to show the No campaign ahead - four snapshots this month have had leads for No of 11, 14, 17 and 19 per cent - the Scottish Secretary admitted to being "happier" now than he was two months ago. He admitted the No campaign felt "a little bit shaky" but that it had held its nerve and now had a "much stronger ... surer touch".
SNP MSP Bob Doris said: "Poor Alistair Carmichael wouldn't get any medals for self-awareness. Of course the Commonwealth Games should be politics-free - no-one on the Yes side has ever said or done anything different - but in the same breath Mr Carmichael yet again makes daft political points in relation to the Olympic Games."