Is Scotland sleepwalking into independence?

The Liberal Democrats will this evening warn of the SNP achieving independence by the back door.

The Liberal Democrats will this evening warn of the SNP achieving independence by the back door

Declaring that “the Nationalist campaign continues”, Scottish Lib Dem Leader Willie Rennie will use a lecture at the David Hume Institute this evening in Edinburgh to warn of the consequences of the SNP holding the balance of power after May’s General Election.

“The SNP want independence by the back door,” Rennie will say. “As a minimum they say they want a form of ultra-extreme devolution that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world and which would inevitably tip Scotland into independence.”

Accusing the SNP of having a flare for “redefining what an election was about” after the votes have been counted, he will continue:

“They told us the day before the referendum that it was a once-in-a-generation thing. Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon stood beside a poster saying ‘One Opportunity’. The day after that referendum they started planning the next one.

“I find it inconceivable that their target to win every Scottish constituency in May will not result in an attempt by them to get independence by the back door.”

Last week, Alex Salmond, who will be contesting the House of Commons seat of Gordon argued that for Scotland, the General Election will be about delivering “real home rule.”

Rennie will continue:

“Those who thought that winning the referendum by almost half a million votes was enough to put the issue to bed or even a lifetime need to think again. The Nationalist campaign continues.”

His comments have been ridiculed by the SNP, with a spokesperson having concluded:

“Poor Willie Rennie – the Lib Dems have been propping up the Tories for so long that they are now alienating themselves from even their very few remaining supporters.”

The developments come amidst ongoing questions over whether Labour would be prepared to do a deal with the SNP if that could secure Ed Miliband a majority to form a government.

Speaking to the Andrew Marr programme on Sunday Miliband declared, “I’m not about deals and coalitions.”

His reluctance to give a clearer response however contrasted sharply with that of Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader, Kezia Dugdale, who earlier this month argued that she would have “no qualms whatsoever about working with the SNP.”

The former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish has also argued that it is important for Labour to maintain a dialogue with the SNP.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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