'No work' on independence case undertaken by Scottish Government since election

Independence campaigners have decried a lack of progress around independence by the SNP following the election.

Pro-independence protesters hold up Scottish National Party (SNP) emblems as they join a march organised by the grassroots organistaion All Under One Banner calling for Scottish independence in Glasgow in 2020

The Alba party, which was led by Alex Salmond at May’s Holyrood election, said Scottish independence was not being pursued with “democratic determination”, claiming support for the new party was continuing to rise.

Chris McEleny, a former SNP councillor and general secretary of the Alba party, said the SNP were failing to campaign for independence due to the “fear that Boris Johnson says no” to a future request to hold a referendum.

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A freedom of information request to the Scottish Government confirmed no civil servants have worked on the case for independence since work was paused when the pandemic hit in March 2020.

The only piece of work undertaken by the government around independence is the draft referendum bill published in March, 2021.

The response adds that “decisions on resuming this work will be a matter for Scottish Ministers to take in due cause”.

It adds that no analysis or assessment of the potential timescale for a second independence referendum or on the referendum bill since the Holyrood election in May.

The SNP pledged prior to the election it would return to the question of independence once the Covid-19 crisis was finished.

Mr McEleny said: “Despite national independence for Scotland being more important now than ever in history, especially if we want to ensure that we choose the policies to recover from coronavirus and don’t have Westminster impose a new generation of Nuclear weapons on the Clyde, we now learn that not a single civil servant is working on the preparation work for independence, and the best the SNP have come up with is a new leaflet.

“These are not the actions of a Government that are pursuing Scotland’s independence as it should be, with democratic determination. It is for that reason that Alba’s membership continues to rise every week.

"It’s time for Scotland’s independence now, and it’s time for the Scottish Government to stop avoiding campaigning for it in fear that Boris Johnson says no to their request to hold a referendum.”

Alba stood candidates on the regional list at the Holyrood election on the basis that a vote for the party and its MSPs would lead to a “supermajority” in the Scottish Parliament.

The party received 1.6 per cent of the vote at the Holyrood election and failed to elect a single MSP.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our priority has been and remains tackling the pandemic. When the public health crisis has passed, people in Scotland have the right to determine their own future through a referendum, as was voted for in the recent Scottish Parliament election. Work on this issue will resume when the time is right so that people in Scotland have the information they need to make an informed decision about their future. We need the full range of powers of an independent country to put in place the transformational recovery from the pandemic that will lead to a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.”

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