THE transport minister Keith Brown and the SNP’s Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie yesterday announced they are to run against each other for the deputy leadership of the SNP.
Mr Brown, a former Marine who fought in the Falklands, said more than half the SNP’s Holyrood group had asked him to stand, a claim that appears to make him the frontrunner in the race to be Nicola Sturgeon’s number two. Alyn Smith, the SNP MEP, has ruled himself out of the contest.
The day after Ms Sturgeon formally announced that she wanted to take over from Alex Salmond, Mr Brown became the first to declare for the deputy leadership. At a press conference at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh, Mr Brown said his desire for independence remained as strong as it was when he joined the party 30 years ago.
However, he said that he had to accept the result of the referendum. He added that the timing of any second referendum would depend on “circumstances and the people”.
Asked how long it would be before there would be another independence vote, Mr Brown said: “I think in terms of putting a time limit, you can’t really do that. It really depends on circumstances and the people. The extent of which the process has been taken out of the hands of the parties, I think has been underlined by what we saw in the campaign.”
“It is people who are driving this process,” Mr Brown said. “People will drive the process – if there is another referendum. We can’t put a limit on that. Neither can we put a timescale on that. But it has to be (that) any further attempt to ask the people of Scotland to support in- dependence has to be through the ballot box.”
Later Mr Hosie, the MP for Dundee East, confirmed that he would also be throwing his hat into the ring. At a press conference in Dundee, Mr Hosie indicated he would use the position to argue for more powers to be transferred from Westminster.
“But let me be clear: I do not believe the election should be a re-run of the referendum. Rather, it is Scotland’s chance to hold Westminster to account – to hold their ‘feet to the fire’ – ensuring they keep their promise to deliver devo-max, and that means devolving everything apart from defence and foreign affairs,” Mr Hosie said.