Economics to drive ‘biggest indy campaign’ as SNP send guide to all Scottish homes

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has unveiled plans to launch the “biggest campaign on the economics of independence” in the SNP’s history as she declared the blueprint would hold the key to winning a Yes vote.

Every home in Scotland is to receive a “household guide” to Scottish independence as the SNP urged supporters to “get your jackets on” and hit the campaign trail to win the case for independence.

Ms Sturgeon announced further details about the campaign ­during her keynote speech at the SNP’s spring conference in Edinburgh ­yesterday.

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It came just a day after the SNP leadership suffered a shock defeat on its economic plans as plans for a fast-track switch to a new Scots currency after a Yes vote were pushed through by party activists.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon during the SNP spring conference at the EICC in Edinburgh. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The First Minister – who announced last week she will be seeking to hold a referendum on independence next year – said the economic case would be critical.

Plans for a Social Justice and Fairness Commission aimed at setting out how independence would ensure greater equality were also unveiled.

“If we can now show what is possible with the economic powers of independence, we will win a referendum,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“We have set out an ambitious, optimistic and realistic way forward for these new times. And so I can announce today that we will now launch the biggest campaign on the economics of independence in our party’s history.

“From this summer, we aim to get information on Scotland’s potential into the hands of every voter.

“Our plan is to distribute ‘An Independent Scotland – a Household Guide’ to every home across the country, all 2.4 million of them.

“So friends, you know what that means. It is time to get your jackets on.”

Ms Sturgeon suffered a setback on Saturday as the party voted in favour of adopting a new Scots currency after a Yes vote. This discards the 2014 policy of keeping the pound in a currency union with the rest of the UK. The leadership’s plan was amended by activists opposed to a more cautious approach, instead backing an amendment calling for a new currency to be adopted “as soon as is practicable” after independence.

However, six key fiscal tests on issues such as bringing Scotland’s public finances under control and building up the reserves of the new control bank remain in place.

The SNP leader did not refer to the defeat during her half-hour address yesterday.

However, she warned: “We must be responsible with our finances, but few countries on Earth can match our resources and our potential.

“So never let anyone tell you that Scotland doesn’t have what it takes to be a prosperous, independent nation. Because our country most ­certainly does.

“Our new economic plan demonstrates the potential of an independent Scotland.”

The importance of social justice and equality was also underlined by the SNP leader, who said this would lead to a strong economy. She added: “That is why I am announcing today the next step for the SNP in setting out our vision of a fairer, independent Scotland.

“Building on the foundation of Andrew Wilson’s work on the economy, I am now setting up a Social Justice and Fairness Commission.

“It will set out how the proceeds of economic growth in an independent Scotland can be shared much more fairly. It will demonstrate how we can use the powers of independence to end poverty, achieve full employment and drive equality for all.

“It will look at how we can deliver fairness for pensioners, be a nation that sets a gold standard for equal pay and creates opportunity for all of our young people. All of that is what independence is for.”

New legislation at Holyrood on a referendum, setting out the framework, will be published later this month and is expected to be on the statute book by the end of the year.

A key barrier to a second referendum is that control over the constitution lies with the UK government. Prime Minister Theresa May has so far ruled out allowing Holyrood to legislate on a second vote on leaving the UK through a Section 30 order.

However, this has been dismissed by Ms Sturgeon, who says Mrs May will be out of office in a few months. It is unlikely a new Tory leader would result in a change of position at Westminster, although there have been suggestions Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could be more sympathetic if his party wins a snap general election.

The blueprint was discussed after two weekend polls showed support for independence was on the rise. YouGov placed support for a Yes vote at 49 per cent, with a No vote on 51 per cent. Panelbase had support for a Yes vote on 47 per cent and No at 53 per cent.

The First Minister said: “[This is] a right to choose mandated in not just one, but two elections and endorsed by the Scottish Parliament.

“Support for independence is already up. Our job now is to get support for independence surging and make sure that no Westminster government can ever stand in the way of Scotland’s right to choose.”

But opponents yesterday hit out at Ms Sturgeon’s speech and branded plans for a second referendum “unwanted”.

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said: “Nicola Sturgeon herself said two days ago that she thinks her job as First Minister is to deliver independence. This speech today has only underlined that fact.

“With her chaotic plan to dump the pound and push ahead with an unwanted referendum, Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear this weekend that she is more interested in her party’s narrow priorities, not those of the majority in ­Scotland.”

And Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said Ms Sturgeon was more interested in “uniting her party than uniting the country”.

He said: “There was no attempt to justify the SNP’s new policy to scrap the pound as soon as possible, a move which would ramp up austerity and force hundreds of thousands of families with mortgages to gamble their house, pensions and savings on an untested new currency.

“Instead of harnessing the powers of devolution to tackle poverty, she is intent on using her time in office to stir up support for a referendum that a majority of the country does not want.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of anti-independence campaign group Scotland in Union, said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s new campaign blitz to ditch the pound will put wages, mortgages and pensions at risk.

“She is playing games with people’s livelihoods by trying to take away the pound in your pocket.

“When her supporters put their jackets on and speak to the people of Scotland, they will discover how deeply unpopular the SNP’s plan to scrap the pound is.”