Independence campaigners concerned over lack of conference debate
THE provisional agenda for the SNP conference in Aberdeen in October does not contain any reference to any resolutions for discussion of either the independence referendum last year or any prospective future referendum, senior party sources told CommonSpace.
CommonSpace has also been told that party branches sent motions regarding a second independence referendum to the standing orders and agenda committee, which vets motions for the agenda for conference.
Commenting on the news, Jim Sillars told CommonSpace: “I know for a fact that motions for another referendum have been tabled with the standing orders and agenda committee.
“Why the committee has not approved them for discussion at the conference is a mystery to me,” he said.
Sillars added that he hopes the matter of another referendum can be discussed at the conference.
“I know for a fact that motions for another referendum have been tabled with the standing orders and agenda committee.” Jim Sillars
Another senior party source said he expected that the matter of independence would just be dealt with in the party leader Nicola Sturgeon’s speech to conference.
The SNP’s membership nearly quadrupled after the independence referendum last year, rising to over 100,000 members, the biggest party in Europe per population.
Former SNP and now independent MSP John Wilson said: “I am disappointed that the SNP leadership haven’t taken the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to a new referendum in the event that the party is returned to majority in the 2016 Holyrood elections; which it appears it will be.”
“I am disappointed that the SNP leadership haven’t taken the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to a new referendum in the event that the party is returned to majority in the 2016 Holyrood elections.” John Wilson MSP
Former Yes Scotland board member Pat Kane told CommonSpace: “It does surprise me that an explicit item about the timing and circumstances of a second independence referendum hasn’t appeared in the SNP conference topics.
“I’d have thought the militant character of the tens of thousands of post-Sept-18th members would have compelled some kind of response from the leadership group, even if only to placate them,” he added.
He also noted the dilemma facing the SNP about when to present another referendum on independence: “I’m glad I’m not in the SNP government at the moment – the question of whether or not to call for a second indyref in May ’16 has to be one of the toughest you could make.”
Former SNP leader Alex Salmond has said another independence referendum is “inevitable” because of UK Government austerity, the limited devolution proposals on offer and the referendum on membership of the EU which could bring Scotland out of the 28 member state “against its will”.
Sturgeon has refused to say whether an independence referendum will be part of the party’s 2016 election manifesto, saying it will be for “the Scottish people to decide” when a future referendum is held. The SNP are on course to win another majority government at Holyrood, with recent polls showing the party heading for 55 per cent of the vote on the constituency list.
“The First Minister has made clear we are not planning another referendum, but equally it is not in the gift of any politician or party to rule it out indefinitely.” SNP spokesperson
Prime Minister David Cameron stated last month that a new referendum will not take place regardless of the Holyrood election outcome, saying: “A referendum would have to be legal, fair and properly constituted. And that’s what we had and it was decisive and I don’t see the need for another one.”
An SNP Spokesperson told CommonSpace: “The First Minister has made clear we 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 – the people, not politicians, are in charge.
“The level of support for a referendum will, in part, be determined by what the Tory government at Westminster does in relation to key issues like the Scotland Bill and the outcome of the EU referendum. There is no question that the Tory government’s attitude towards Scotland since the referendum will have many people questioning whether Westminster is capable of representing Scotland’s interests at all.”
Picture courtesy of Scottish Government