The prospect of a fresh Summer battle over Scotland’s constitutional future is looming with a pro-union organisation saying it will tour the country to promote the case for the UK.
It comes after Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday that the Scottish Parliament will propose a second referendum when a “range of polls” indicate most Scots want a second vote on the constitution. The First Minister remains on course for an overwhelming victory in Thursday’s Holyrood election, with Labour and the Tories a long way back, locked in a battle for second place.
The prospect of another referendum dominated campaigning yesterday in the fallout from the final TV leaders debate on Sunday which saw Ms Sturgeon come under fire from opponents for stating another referendum was “more likely than not” while she is in office. Ms Sturgeon has already pledged to launch a fresh independence drive this summer, with Tory leader Ruth Davidson unveiling plans for her own campaign for the UK.
The Scotland in Union organisation, which has been set up to campaign for the UK, now says it will also launch a “summer tour” to make its case across the country.
Campaign manager Andrew Skinner is to visit all 32 Scottish council areas this summer Director Alastair Cameron said: “We intend to campaign to ensure support for independence stays well below Nicola Sturgeon’s majority, and if she is fortunate enough to be elected as First Minister, then she will be under pressure to focus on the day job.”
The latest opinion poll by Panelbase showed support for independence stands at 47 per cent – up two points from the referendum two years ago.
Ms Sturgeon said yesterday that if Scots want another referendum, then it “cannot simply be ruled out” in a democracy.
She added: “We would have to see in a range of polls over a period of time that independence had become a clear option, the preferred option, of a majority. It’s quite clear.”
The SNP manifesto says there would have to be “clear and sustained evidence” over a period of time which shows that most Scots want another referendum before she moves again.
And Ms Sturgeon said today: “It’s not an opinion poll, it’s not a couple of opinion polls, it’s not a flash in the pan. It’s evidence over a consistent period of time. The Scottish Parliament would have to make a decision to propose another referendum. It would have to be legislated for.”
Responsibility over the constitution lies with Westminster and a deal with the last coalition government was struck for the 2014 referendum to be staged after the SNP’s Holyrood victory in 2011. Ms Sturgeon says Holyrood should have the right to call a referendum and has told Westminster it has no right to stand in the way.
But Labour leader Kezia Dugdale accused Ms Sturgeon and Tory leader Ruth Davidson of being obsessed with re-running the “constitutional arguments of the past.”
She added: “The Tories and the SNP are stuck in the past. We can never move on as a country if our politicians don’t lead the way.”