FMQs: Alex Salmond accused of abandoning Scottish independence
ALEX Salmond was accused of abandoning Scottish independence as opposition parties used yesterday’s First Minister’s Questions to claim that the SNP leader now wanted to boost support for a second referendum question on more powers for Holyrood.
• Johann Lamont believes Alex Salmond ‘knows he has lost the first question’ over full independence
• Former Labour leader Henry McLeish among those favouring a second question offering ‘devo max’
• Chairman of the Yes Scotland campaign, Dennis Canavan, backs a single question
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said the First Minister wanted a second question on the referendum ballot paper “because he knows he has lost the first” over full independence.
“When the First Minister was a Nationalist, my complaint was that he didn’t focus on health and education, just obsessed about independence,” Ms Lamont said.
“He still doesn’t focus on what really matters to people. It now appears he doesn’t even believe in independence any more.”
The First Minister’s “radical” plans for an independent Scotland include “keeping the Queen, keeping the pound, keeping London in charge of interest rates and banking regulation”, she said.
“We’re keeping the Union Jack and in an independent Scotland, we’ll all be British. That’s what his party members all really joined the SNP for: to remain British.”
Mr Salmond insisted: “I’m a Scottish Nationalist. I believe in an independent Scotland. When did Johann Lamont and the Labour Party last declare themselves to be socialists?
But he said “there is a strong appetite for a second question”.
The First Minister said Pat Rafferty, regional secretary of the trade union Unite, highlighted how the “majority want a second question”, while former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish argued that “there are compelling reasons for a second question and a bigger choice for Scots”.
Mr Salmond also cited the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations as saying “there is a strong appetite for a second question”, and added that Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary Grahame Smith said “it would be daft to rule out a multi-option referendum”.
He said: “The people in civic Scotland are entitled to submit their ideas to this question, and it ill-behooves a party that couldn’t even be bothered to give a response to the consultation to criticise those who have.”
Conservative leader Ruth Davidson also challenged Mr Salmond on whether a single question would be put to voters on the referendum ballot paper.
The new chairman of the Yes Scotland campaign for independence, former Labour MP Dennis Canavan, stated in April that he supported a single question, she pointed out.
“So will the First Minister confirm today, ahead of whenever his next relaunch [of the Yes campaign] is, that he will actually back Dennis Canavan and support a single referendum question?” she asked.
Mr Salmond told Ms Davidson that the Scottish Government set out its preferred question in January.
He later used a quote from the Old Testament uttered by God – “Let my people go” (Exodus 9:1) – after an SNP backbencher asked him what advice he would give to Prime Minister David Cameron about Scotland’s future within the UK.
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “We’ve always known the First Minister thinks a lot of himself, but now we know just how much.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North west