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Scottish independence: Sturgeon’s Labour vote plea

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  • by SCOTT MACNAB
 

Nicola Sturgeon has launched a direct appeal to Labour voters to back Scottish independence in September’s referendum, saying the Yes campaign is looking to convince “traditional Labour” supporters to back a split with the UK .

The Deputy First Minister insisted that independence is in the “home-rule traditions” of Labour voters and said she ­believed some were slowly shifting to the Yes camp, during a speech in St Andrews yesterday.

Ms Sturgeon also urged the No campaign to publish its own “white paper” setting out Scotland’s future within the UK if there is a No vote.

A capacity crowd of 400 turned out to hear the SNP deputy leader yesterday at the town’s Buchanan Theatre after excess demand saw the event moved from the historic Parliament Hall.

Asked afterwards if she ­believed a Yes vote in September would need significant backing from Labour-minded Scots, she said: “Yes – we do want to see ­Labour voters voting Yes.

“It’s a section of the population where we’re starting to see movement towards the Yes campaign. We’ve seen some high-profile names in the past few weeks.”

Former Labour Lothian ­Regional Council leader John ­Mulvey announced at the weekend he would be backing independence, while other senior Labour stalwarts like ex-Cosla president Sir Charles Gray and former Glasgow provost Alex Mosson have given their backing to independence.

Labour is one of the main partners in the pro-Union Better Together campaign, which includes the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

Ms Sturgeon added: “I represent a seat which has in the past been a very tight marginal seat, so I spend a lot of my political life talking to people who at one time or other have been Labour voters and that’s where I see the start of quite a pronounced movement from No, sometimes from No to undecided, but also movement towards Yes.”

She added: “Arithmetic and the political shape of Scotland would determine that we want to convince traditional Labour supporters to vote Yes.”

The Deputy First Minister also called on Tory voters to back independence yesterday, insisting that a parliament which not only spent money but had the “responsibility to raise it and be accountable for how it does so” would appeal to them.

A Labour spokesman said last night that more than a third of SNP supporters did not “support breaking up the United ­Kingdom”.

He added: “Perhaps she would be better trying to persuade her own voters rather than trying to rewrite the history of the Labour movement, which has always rejected the Nationalists’ politics of division and grievance.”

Yesterday’s speech is likely to be the first of many showpiece events staged by SNP ministers as they attempt to turn around opinion polls which show support for independence is still lagging behind a No vote.

Voters go to the polls on 18 September this year for the historic rederendum.

The No campaign must set out its vision of Scotland’s ­future within the UK, Ms Sturgeon said, in the event of a No vote. The SNP government published its own document – Scotland’s Future – last year which set out how an independent state would be established and ­operate.

“It’s time we had clear answers from the No campaign,” she said. “So I am challenging the No campaign today to publish its equivalent of the white paper.”

A poll released by the SNP yesterday showed that 70 per cent of voters want to see the No campaign produce a document setting out Scotland’s place ­within in the UK.

A spokesman for the pro-Union Better Together campaign said: “The SNP are the ones saying that we should take the risky step of leaving the UK, but they cannot even answer the most basic questions like what currency we would use if we go it alone.

“People understand that devolution inside the UK works for Scotland. We have the best of both worlds.”

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