Rivals in politics united for a special service

POLITICAL FIGURES on both sides of the Scottish independence debate have attended a special church service to promote unity in the wake of the referendum.

Around 1,000 people gathered for the Church of Scotland event at St Giles Cathedral on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile yesterday.

Scotland’s Finance Secretary John Swinney, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander and the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander were among those present.

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Better Together leader Alistair Darling, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael and former Liberal leader Lord Steel also joined the gathering.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, Labour leader Johann Lamont and Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie were also present.

The Church of Scotland wanted the service to be part of a process of reconciliation, helping people in the Yes and No camps come together and move forward after the intense referendum debate.

Church of Scotland moderator the Rt Rev John Chalmers, leading the service, asked Scots to put their differences aside and work together to redefine the country’s place within the UK.

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He said: “The Church here and in congregations across the country is playing its part in making it a little easier to stretch out that hand of friendship to those who are our fellow Scots who did not support the side we supported.

“How we voted on one particular day does not define who we are.

“How we work together to put in place the democratic will of the Scottish people will be defining - both for us as individuals and for us we as we work to redefine our place within the United Kingdom.”

During the service Douglas Alexander and Mr Swinney both delivered readings to the congregation. As the service drew to a close the leaders joined in a pledge of unity for a common purpose and the congregation was asked to shake the hand of their neighbour.