WE CAN SAVE THE UNITED KINGDOM; Fight to Halt SNP Breakaway Starts Today; Battle Lines Drawn in the Struggle for Scotland's Future

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Byline: Alan Roden Scottish Political Reporter

THE battle against the threat of Scottish independence will be launched today with the rallying cry: 'We can save the UK'.

United under the banner 'Better Together', an unprecedented cross-party campaign aims to thwart Alex Salmond's plans to destroy the world's most successful union.

The fight will be led by former chancellor Alistair Darling, who will warn Scots that there is 'no way back' if they decide to vote for separation.

'It is like asking us to buy a one-way ticket to send our children to a deeply uncertain destination,' he will say in the opening salvo of a two-year contest with the SNP.

The Labour MP will be flanked by politicians from the main Unionist parties, including Tory leader Ruth Davidson.

'Alex Salmond is determined to rip Scotland out of the United Kingdom but we know if Scots of all parties - and of none - stand together, we can save the UK,' Miss Davidson said.

The campaign will be launched at Edinburgh's Napier University, while volunteers will hand out 500,000 leaflets at train stations nationwide.

A series of newspaper adverts, published today, spell out how Scots can have the 'best of both worlds' through devolution. Exposing the risks of a Yes vote, they will say: 'There will be no trial separation.'

Campaign leaders are keen to remain positive, however, and the benefits of remaining in the Union - such as the shipbuilding contracts that come to Scotland - will be emphasised.

The campaign will also highlight the 'emotional ties' between England and Scotland, urging voters not to place 'boundaries' between families and friends north and south of the Border.

Last night, the SNP called for an end to the 'scaremongering silly season'. The party has already launched its campaign to break up Britain and has started to dip into a [pounds sterling]2million war chest.

However, the glitzy Yes Scotland launch in an Edinburgh cinema last month was widely criticised and the No campaign will deliberately feature 'ordinary Scots' rather than Hollywood stars.

Mr Darling will say: 'We put the positive case for staying together. We are positive about our links with the rest of the UK - through families and friendships, through trade, and through shared political, economical and cultural institutions.

'We're positive about being a proud nation within a larger state and the far wider range of opportunities for our people that this creates.'

He will add: 'The truth is we can have the best of both worlds; a strong Scottish parliament and a key role in a strong and secure United Kingdom.'

One of the campaign's key aims is to ensure that there is only one question on the ballot paper when the referendum is held in autumn 2014. …