Nicola Sturgeon has said that next week’s General Election is not a re-run of last year’s referendum and that “something fairly substantial would have to change” before a second vote on leaving the UK could take place.
However the speeches and internal documents, meant for SNP members only, include remarks from eight candidates stating plans to use their platforms as MPs to force a second independence vote.
The candidates suggested that major gains for the party on 7 May could act as a catalyst for a new vote, despite Ms Sturgeon stating that she “was not planning another referendum just now” and that “it will only happen if the people in Scotland vote for it”.
Labour’s dossier reported that an SNP Westminster candidate talked about coercing politicians at Westminster to get agreement on a new independence vote.
Mhairi Black, who is standing for the SNP against shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander in Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said that a large bloc of Nationalist MPs at Westminster could “twist the arm” of other parties at Westminster to force a second referendum.
She said: “If we send back that bloc of SNP MPs we will be the rope that that hung parliament hangs on. And that can be our strongest asset. That’s when we twist their arm and get that second referendum.”
In a statement that another referendum would take place “soon”, Paul Monaghan, the SNP’s candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, said he “will never accept anything less than independence”.
Nationalist candidate Owen Thompson, who hopes to become the MP for Midlothian, said of last year’s referendum result that: “It wasn’t a No vote. It was ‘not yet’.”
Another candidate, Patrick Grady in Glasgow North, also stated his plan to use Westminster as a platform for independence if he is elected as an MP.
In a candidate statement, he said: “I’m ready to hit the ground running, and make sure success in 2015 paves the way for success in the Scottish Parliament 2016, city council 2017, and on to independence.”
The SNP’s candidate in West Dunbartonshire, Martin Doherty, said: “By God I’ll fight for an independent sovereign parliament to give us the power.”
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy warned that the findings showed big gains for the SNP on 7 May could lead to second referendum and called on Ms Sturgeon to “come clean” about her party’s intentions.
He said: “Nicola Sturgeon should stop trying to spin questions about a second independence referendum. Nothing can disguise the truth that the SNP would use election victories to propel Scotland towards a second referendum.”
Labour’s dossier also included a statement from the SNP’s East Lothian candidate George Kerevan, who said that as an MP he would push for full fiscal autonomy for Holyrood and that “independence will follow as the UK economy implodes”.
Newly elected Nationalist MPs would all “have to progress the cause of independence”, the SNP’s Livingston candidate in Hannah Bardell said.
Mr Murphy said: “These SNP candidate statements, which were never meant to be seen by the public, reveal that SNP MPs will spend every day working for a second referendum.”
An SNP spokesman last night did not deny the candidates’ statements highlighted by Labour but accused the party of using “desperate” campaign tactics.
The spokesman said: “Labour are getting more desperate and negative by the day in this campaign.”
The latest row comes after Ms Sturgeon refused to sack the party’s candidate in Edinburgh South, Neil Hay, who used Twitter to post offensive messages likening pro-UK supporters to Nazi collaborators and claimed elderly voters “barely know their own names”.
WHAT THEY SAY
THIS is what SNP candidates have had to say:
Owen Thompson, Midlothian: “It wasn’t a No vote. It was ‘not yet’.”
George Kerevan, East Lothian: “If the SNP gains enough seats, we can ensure the full home rule vow is delivered. After home rule, independence will follow as the UK economy implodes.”
Martin Doherty, West Dunbartonshire: “By God I’ll fight for an independent sovereign parliament to give us the power.”
Patrick Grady, Glasgow North: “I’m ready to hit the ground running, and make sure success in 2015 paves the way for success in the Scottish Parliament 2016, city council 2017, and on to independence.”
Mhairi Black, Paisley and Renfrewshire North: “The only way they will give us another referendum is if there’s someone twisting their arm. That can be 30- plus SNP MPs … If we send back that bloc of SNP MPs we will be the rope that that hung parliament hangs on. And that can be our strongest asset. That’s when we twist their arm and get that second referendum.”
“That’s why May is so important. The only way to beat first past the post is to unite the vote. And if we can send back that many SNP MPs to Westminster...that is the power to twist their arm and get that other referendum.”