SOME of Scotland’s “leading stars” will lend their support to the campaign for Scottish independence when it is officially launched this week.
The campaign, to be titled “Yes Scotland”, will try to appeal to a broad church by reaching out to those beyond the SNP.
Friday’s launch is to be held in Sir Sean Connery’s old stomping ground in Edinburgh, prompting speculation that the star, an SNP supporter, will make an appearance to boost Alex Salmond’s cause.
But Salmond’s intention to delay the referendum until autumn 2014 was criticised by his opponents yesterday. Labour leader Johann Lamont said delaying the poll was “self indulgent” and detracted from other issues.
The “Yes Scotland” campaign will begin on Friday at Edinburgh’s Cineworld complex in Fountainbridge, near where Connery grew up. The launch invitation states that “Scots from all walks of life will join some of our leading stars and community and political figures” to sign a “Yes Declaration” setting out why being independent offers the best future for Scotland.
Yesterday, SNP sources refused to disclose who the “leading stars” were but Fountainbridge was chosen over more obvious symbolic sites such as the Bannockburn battlefield or Arbroath Abbey, where Scots noblemen declared Scottish independence in 1320.
On the invitation, Friday’s launch is described as “the start of the biggest community based campaign in Scotland’s history, designed to build a groundswell of support for an independent Scotland ahead of the 2014 referendum”.
Friday will also bring the unveiling of the campaign’s website and official anthem plus contributions from “some of Scotland’s leading cultural figures”. Other prominent SNP supporters and donors have included Sir Brian Souter of Stagecoach and, from the world of films, Brian Cox and Alan Cumming.
Writing in today’s Scotland on Sunday, Lamont said: “We will have a two-and-a-half year debate on something I believe most of us have made up our minds on – whether we stay in the UK. The old, familiar arguments are crowding out the real debate we need to have about how we stimulate our economy, how we have decent public services in a time of scarce resources – what sort of Scotland we want to build.
“This is a self-indulgence we can ill afford. While the rest of Europe debates how we get back from the brink of the possible collapse of the euro, Scotland, by Alex Salmond’s dictat, stares at our own navel.”
Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: “Alex Salmond can try and conjure up all the razzmatazz he likes to give the impression there is a groundswell of support for separation. But the facts are that the SNP have lost a quarter of their support in just a year and got barely a third of the vote in the council elections.”