Alex Salmond believes a second referendum is inevitable
The SNP has warned David Cameron that it is not his role to ‘dictate’ to Scotland when and if it can hold a further referendum on independence.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr programme on Sunday, the former first minister and now MP for Gordon Alex Salmond, argued that ‘a second independence referendum is inevitable’.
In doing so, he cited the prospect of a failure to deliver in full the ‘vow’ made to Scottish voters ahead of the last independence vote, the EU referendum and the UK government’s welfare reforms as potential triggers for a further vote on Scotland’s future.
Responding to the comments during his visit to South East Asia however, David Cameron sought to rule out a second vote during the course of the current parliament. Asked if he would rule out another referendum before the next UK general election in 2020, Cameron responded bluntly, “yes”. He continued:
“I think it is important that a referendum is legal and fair and properly constituted and that’s what we had and it was decisive so I don’t see the need for another one.”
Asked what would happen if Scotland legislated for a referendum on its own, the prime minister replied:
“I took a very clear approach that these things must be legitimate and that’s my view.”
Responding to the prime minister’s statement however, a spokesperson for the SNP commented:
“The SNP are not planning another referendum, but equally it is not in the gift of any politician or party to rule it out indefinitely.
“The timing of any future referendum is a matter for the people of Scotland to decide – and not for a Tory prime minister to dictate.”
The issue is likely to come to a head at the SNP’s conference in October, when delegates are expected to debate the prospect of including a commitment to a second referendum in the party’s manifesto for the 2016 elections to Holyrood.
But speaking to pro-independence newspaper The National, one former leader of the SNP has warned the current incumbent not to commit to a second vote until it is felt it could be won.
Gordon Wilson, who led the party from 1979 to 1990, said the first minister should ‘by all means keep the option open’, but defy any calls for a ‘fixed time commitment’.
Wilson, now director of the pro-independence think tank Options for Scotland, explained:
“The time is not yet ripe. Support for independence is falling, indeed sunk to 43 per cent while support for the SNP itself is rising.
“Patience is required. It would be a strategic error to commit to a referendum until you know you are going to win.”
“It will take a lot of character to resist the calls from enthusiastic but inexperienced new members or even those experienced hands who raise the matter prematurely.
“That is the mark of a political leader.”
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.