Scottish independence: Greens set to reject second referendum question
FRESH splits have appeared in the pro-independence campaign after Scottish Greens said it was “difficult to see” how a second question could be included on the referendum ballot.
Patrick Harvie, the party’s co-leader, said the party may drop its backing for a second option for voters in 2014 as the proposals are “vague” and lack “clarity.”
Mr Harvie’s comments come after Independent MSP Margo MacDonald called on Alex Salmond to abandon the proposal because he “can’t deliver it”.
The SNP leader has previously hinted he would back a second question on a proposal to extend the Scottish Parliament’s tax-raising powers while leaving the country within the Union.
But Mr Harvie, who shared a platform with Mr Salmond at the Yes campaign launch, has now warned the “window is closing” on an option giving Holyrood more powers, and said the Scottish Greens may now back a straight yes or no question when the issue is discussed at the party’s conference this autumn.
He said: “Two things that are needed on this are clarity and political momentum, but the window is closing on this.
“There is an appetite for a debate on this within the party and some members have expressed concerns about the more powers question being vague.
“It’s difficult to see how the required level of clarity could now be achieved on this.
“We’ll reflect on these issues at the conference, where there will be a lot of Greens who are not yet convinced.”
Opposition parties in the Better Together campaign claimed yesterday there are deepening splits in the Yes campaign, after senior figures, including chairman Dennis Canavan and chief executive Blair Jenkins, called for Scots to be offered a single question on independence.
Scottish Labour’s external affairs spokeswoman Patricia Ferguson said: “Alex Salmond is desperate to find a way out of this dilemma, but the growing support for a single question is fast becoming overwhelming.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “Alex Salmond is now the last man standing in his backing for a second question. First he was abandoned by Margo MacDonald and now the Greens have seen how confusing it would be.
“Even those in charge of running Alex Salmond’s separatist campaign have said it would make sense to offer people a single, straightforward question on whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom.”
However, SNP campaigns director Angus Robertson claimed there was strong support for a second question, but insisted that the Yes campaign would deliver Scottish independence.
He said: “The SNP wants independence and will campaign to deliver a Yes vote to independence in 2014. At the same time, we recognise that there is a real debate to be had about bringing proper job-creating powers to the Scottish Parliament.
“It follows calls from Labour’s biggest union backers, Unite, for a more powers option, which is also backed by much of civic Scotland as well as Tory donor John McGlynn and leading businessmen Sir Tom Farmer and Jim McColl. This simply reinforces the case that the referendum must be made in Scotland, without any Westminster strings attached.”
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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