A CAMPAIGN for a referendum on independence for Scotland has received a boost with official backing from the Scottish Greens.
Independence First, a cross-party group set up earlier this year, is calling for a yes or no referendum on whether Scotland should go it alone from the rest of the United Kingdom.
It has already been endorsed by Scottish Socialist Tommy Sheridan and several Scottish Nationalist MSPs.
Now the Scottish Green Party, whose commitment to independence has sometimes been seen as lukewarm, has pledged its support for the campaign.
Organisers said the move reflected a growing opinion in favour of a referendum. And they said the Greens' backing could act as a catalyst for further support.
In a letter to Independence First, the Scottish Greens' co-convener, North East Scotland MSP Shiona Baird, said
: "This is a cause that the Scottish Green Party has long supported, and one of the reasons for our friendly separation from the English and Welsh Green Party was to campaign for a Scottish Parliament. Our vision is for independence for Scotland, when the people of Scotland choose it, as a part of a process of decentralisation and democratisation.
"We view independence as part of a process, not as an event or even as an end in itself. It is a process that will transfer power away from the remote and over-centralised state we live in at the moment into the hands of people and communities that are actually affected by the decisions.
"We applaud the commitment of Independence First to work on a cross-party basis, involving those from all parties and none.
"As a party that supports independence without being nationalist, we believe that the only way to take constitutional change forward is to work in this way."
Independence First appealed to people in other parties or in none to join the campaign.
Spokesman Joe Middleton said: "Independence First is trying to achieve as broad a consensus as possible for independence. Under our plans, secondary issues like republicanism or EU membership would be left up to the people of Scotland after the initial objective of breaking up the UK through a straightforward yes or no referendum.
"This campaign has received considerable support since it was launched a few months ago. We hope other parties will follow the Greens in giving us official endorsement. But we know there are people in all the parties who support independence.
"We don't want people to give up their party affiliation, but to unite on this one issue."
Independence First was launched in March this year and has set up a website - www.independence1st.com - to put its case to the public.
In a message of support, Mr Sheridan said the campaign deserved the support from all socialists and democrats alike.
He said: "My party's vision is of an independent socialist Scotland but we absolutely endorse and promote the right of citizens in Scotland to democratically decide now via a referendum if they wish an independent country."
Nationalist MSP Sandra White said: "I'm happy to get behind anything that advances the cause of Scottish independence. I definitely support this grass roots movement in their demand for a referendum on independence."