Scottish independence: extra powers a cop-out for dummies, Salmond told
ALEX Salmond has come under mounting pressure to rule out a second question in the independence referendum amid growing opposition to the move from within nationalist ranks.
Former SNP leader Gordon Wilson and Professor Stephen Tierney – an adviser to Mr Salmond on the referendum – and the Scottish Independence Convention all launched attacks on the prospect of giving voters a second option in 2014.
Mr Salmond 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.
The criticism of Mr Salmond’s stance came as it emerged that the SNP government’s independence referendum consultation received 26,000 responses – 5,000 more than originally thought. More than 160 organisations, including the Scottish Trades Union Congress and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, have published their responses, which show support for a second question on much greater economic powers for Holyrood.
However, Mr Wilson, who led the SNP before Mr Salmond first took over in 1990, said a “cop-out on extra powers is only for naive dummies” as he demanded an all-or-nothing vote.
Mr Wilson, an outspoken critic of Mr Salmond’s leadership, called on the First Minister to abandon the “softly, softly” approach and promote “enthusiasm and excitement” about independence in the run up to the referendum in autumn 2014.
The Scottish Independence Convention, fronted by SNP supporting actress Elaine C Smith, called on Mr Salmond to reject a “meaningless” second question, which it warned would make it difficult to deliver a “clear result” in the referendum.
Meanwhile, Prof Tierney, an Edinburgh-based academic, used his book on constitutional referendums to claim that a second question could lead to criticism that the vote was a “fix”.
The comments come after growing splits appeared to emerge from the Yes campaign, with two of its leaders, Dennis Canavan and Blair Jenkins, publicly opposing the proposals of devo max and devo plus.
Labour last night seized on the latest splits to call on Mr Salmond to reject a second question – a proposal that was also criticised by Independent MSP Margo MacDonald.
Scottish Labour spokeswoman Patricia Ferguson said: “Alex Salmond is looking increasingly isolated in his campaign for a fall-back option on the referendum as a consensus builds around a single question.
“Leading nationalists such as Gordon Wilson and Elaine C Smith are rightly questioning his motives and they join Nicola Sturgeon, Blair Jenkins, Margo MacDonald and Dennis Canavan in advocating a single question.
“When the academic he has hired to have oversight of the referendum tells Alex Salmond this is just a ploy, it’s time he started listening and got on with asking people straight whether they want to break up Britain or not.”
The Scottish Government said there was strong support for a second question, but insisted it was still confident of delivering independence.
A spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government’s policy is independence, and the straightforward, fair question on independence is the one we have outlined in the consultation paper.
“At the same time, we recognise that there is substantial support across Scotland – from individuals and organisations – for increased responsibilities for the Scottish Parliament short of independence.”
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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