SNP deputy candidates back pro-Yes alliance

Nicola Sturgeon was the only candidate to succeed Alex Salmond as SNP leader. Picture: PA

Nicola Sturgeon was the only candidate to succeed Alex Salmond as SNP leader. Picture: PA

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TWO of the three candidates for the SNP deputy leadership have raised the prospect of a pro-Yes alliance fighting next year’s UK election campaign.

Both Stewart Hosie and Angela Constance want to see the party “reach out” to other pro-independence parties in the aftermath of the referendum.

It remains unclear if this would mean SNP candidates running under a broader pro-independence banner, with Hosie saying it is open to negotiation how “formal or informal” any alliance would be.

All three candidates for the SNP deputy leadership, including transport minister Keith Brown, have written exclusively for Scotland on Sunday today setting out their case for replacing Nicola Sturgeon as the party’s number two next month.

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The prospect of a Yes alliance has already been raised by a number of independence supporters and Hosie suggested it could be a key weapon in maximising the new powers coming to Holyrood in line with the referendum promises from the pro-Union leaders. As well as the SNP, the Greens and Scottish Socialist Party are pro-independence.

Hosie said: “The SNP must now reach out, not just to those who voted Yes, but those people who voted No expecting substantial new powers for Scotland. The best way to get those powers – to make sure Westminster delivers – will be to return the largest ever number of independence supporting MPs to Westminster.

“The SNP will be the engine of this campaign and with over 80,000 members a turbo-charged one. But we must find ways of working beyond party interests to maximise the participation of those who campaigned for independence and by offering the electorate an opportunity to again vote for change at next year’s General Election.

“Of course any broad campaign will require approval from not just the SNP but many of the other parties and organisations involved in Yes but it is important that we begin to seek agreement now.”

Constance said that politics has changed in Scotland with people “willing to organise themselves, fund themselves, and take the initiative themselves.”

She added: “That is why I am calling for the SNP to reach out to the wider Yes campaign and involve people who belong to other pro-independence parties, or none.”

A spokesman for the Almond Valley MSP said yesterday that she was “open” to the prospect of a wider Yes alliance at the election next year.

The Greens backed a motion at the party conference last week to review its General Election strategy.

“We are not ruling any options out and are consulting members before making a decision later this year,” a spokesman said. “Our priority is to elect MPs who are fully committed to the Green agenda in Scotland and across the UK.”

The deputy leadership will be decided at the party’s conference next month. Only those new members who signed up by 23 September – four days after the referendum – will be allowed to vote, meaning the bulk of the new membership are likely to miss out. Constance has called for a rule change to allow them to vote.

Brown says the SNP must focus on the 84,000 new members, with “more joining every day.”

He added: “That’s a fantastic endorsement of what we’ve achieved so far. We have new energy and we’re determined to be heard loud and clear in Westminster.”

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