First Minister Alex Salmond is to hold a press conference for international media on the anniversary of the 1997 devolution referendum. Mr Salmond will mark the date on which Scots voted to re-establish a Scottish Parliament and continue his campaign for independence. The press conference will take place on the day after the main UK party leaders called on Scots to reject independence. It also follows a poll suggesting a narrow lead for the “No” campaign.
On 11 September 1997 Scotland voted overwhelmingly for devolution, leading to the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament after nearly 300 years. SNP leader Mr Salmond is expected to use the anniversary to argue that a “Yes” vote for independence in the referendum next week would be a continuation of “Scotland’s constitutional journey to date”. ‘Constant interference’ Appearing alongside Mr Salmond will be Canon Kenyon Wright, who chaired the Scottish Constitutional Convention that paved the way for the creation of the devolved parliament, and who now backs independence.
He is expected to say: “Again and again a Westminster government we did not elect claimed the right to impose policies we rejected and an ideology we do not accept. Devolution has no answer for that. “The tactics used by ‘No’ simply prove that they fail to understand how deeply that principle of Scotland’s right is rooted in our history. “First there was the stick to threaten us. Now the carrot to tempt us. “First the blackmail – be naughty and vote ‘Yes’ and we’ll punish you. Now the bribe – be good, vote ‘No’ and we’ll reward you.” He added: “Scotland needs something devolution can never give – the secure power to make her own decisions; to follow her own vision of a just fair society, to take her positive place among the nations of Europe and the world, to be free from the constant interference from Westminster.” ‘Stronger together’
Canon Wright’s comments come after David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg made separate calls for Scots to vote “No” in the 18 September referendum. The three leaders have backed a plan of action spearheaded by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which they have said would see work begin on the handover of new powers on 19 September, the day after the referendum.
Mr Miliband, who will be campaigning in Scotland later alongside Mr Brown, said: “I want to make the case to you from the head, which is that we are stronger staying together because we can better create a more equal, a more just, society. “I want to make the case to you from the heart, because of the ties that bind us together and which would be broken apart by separatism. “And I want to make the case to you from the soul, because it was in halls like this that our movement was formed on the basis of solidarity – solidarity that has built, not just our movement’s greatest moments, but our country’s greatest institutions, like our national health service.” Poll reaction Meanwhile, a new Survation poll for the Daily Record suggested 47.6% of voters surveyed would back “No” and 42.4% would vote “Yes”, with 10% undecided.
The figures suggested a referendum result of 53% “No” to 47% “Yes”, if undecided voters were removed. It follows other recent polls suggesting the referendum vote was too close to call, including a You-Gov poll on 5 September that put the “Yes” campaign narrowly ahead. Both the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign and the pro-Union Better Together campaign claimed the poll showed victory was within reach for them. Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall said: “This fight for Scotland’s future will go right down to the wire, but it’s one we will win.” Yes Scotland chief executive Blair Jenkins said the poll “confirms we are in touching distance of success next Thursday, and will galvanise all those who are wanting and working for a ‘Yes’ to redouble their efforts”.
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