Jim Sillars said the party should enter the key election, expected in late 2023 or May 2024, with a pledge that a vote for the SNP is a vote for in
Jim Sillars said the party should enter the key election, expected in late 2023 or May 2024, with a pledge that a vote for the SNP is a vote for independence. The former SNP deputy leader under Alex Salmond criticised Nicola Sturgeon’s aims for a second independence vote by the end of 2023 subject to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Sillars said it was “foolish” to talk up the prospect of another referendum during that timescale making clear the strategy was “risky”.
Asked if he thought a referendum could take place before the end of 2023, the former Glasgow Govan MP said: “There has been no independence campaign.
“The time to have it was at the May election when the SNP should have asked people – vote for us for independence.
“Nicola Sturgeon was very careful to explain the election was not about independence.
“Without a successful campaign, taking us well above the 50 percent mark in the polls, it is foolish to talk to people about a referendum.”
Mr Sillars also stressed the opinion polls were “the cart before the horse [of a referendum].”
He added: “First, you have to have a campaign that builds up a solid majority that cannot be deflected by anything said or done by Westminster.
“Then you demand a referendum.”
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“The moment you get into ambiguities you are not asking for a vote for independence.Ms Sturgeon has said several times that, if Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to reject demands for a second vote, the Scottish Government will move ahead with their own Holyrood bill.
Ms Sturgeon told the Financial Times last week it would be “pretty unthinkable” for the UK Government to maintain its veto.
She said: “I can’t look ahead and tell you exactly how this constitutional impasse is going to resolve itself, but it will resolve itself — and it will resolve itself on the side of democracy, because actually, the alternative is pretty unthinkable.”
In response, an SNP spokesperson said: “While the SNP is focused on winning independence, Jim Sillars has called for it to be ‘deprioritised’.”