20 Days Remaining

Saturday 15th
posted by Malcolm Burns in Britain

OUTGOING SNP First Minister Alex Salmond told his party conference in Perth yesterday that Scotland will become independent under his successor Nicola Sturgeon.

Mr Salmond set his party a target of winning Scotland in May’s general election and increasing membership to 100,000.

He warned unionist parties that the SNP would “hold their feet to the fire” until they delivered the promises of more powers for the Scottish Parliament which were made on the eve of the referendum. 

The First Minister audaciously mixed his paraphrases between Shakespeare, 1966 World Cup final commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme and Irish poet WB Yeats.

He declared: “If Westminster reneges on pledges made in the campaign — they will discover that hell hath no fury like this nation scorned. They thought it was all over… well it isn’t now. For Scotland has changed and changed utterly.”

Mr Salmond singled out former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown for a special warning, saying “He pledged ‘home rule’ — his words not mine — and that is now the yardstick by which the Smith Commission will be measured.”

But he praised Holyrood Finance Secretary John Swinney as a “financial magician — Scotland’s Merlin” who had balanced the budget in the recession.

In keeping with the magic theme, Mr Salmond announced £1 million to secure the future of the Scottish Youth Theatre, threatened by budget cuts, not so much out of a hat as from private funding by Clyde Blowers — the engineering firm owned by billionaire tax exile Jim McColl.

SNP leader-in-waiting Ms Sturgeon told BBC Scotland that pro-independence campaigners who are not currently party members could potentially stand as SNP candidates in the Westminster elections in May 2015.

Scottish Labour interim leader Anas Sarwar said: “The people of Scotland voted in overwhelming numbers against independence, but now the SNP want to use the general election to fight the referendum again.

“The people of Scotland will vote for MPs who will fight for their constituents — not for another referendum that the majority of Scots just rejected, and choosing ‘celebrity’ candidates from the Yes campaign won’t alter that fact.”

The SNP deputy leadership contest was won by Dundee MP Stewart Hosie, the party’s Treasury spokesman at Westminster.