Scottish separatists 'not pushing for second referendum'

8th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

Alex Salmond, who led the Scottish independence movement in last year's referendum, said Thursday that nationalists would not use the British general election in May as a chance to force a second vote on leaving the UK.

Salmond said the next five-year parliament should be about holding the three main unionist parties to account over their pledge to deliver greater self-rule for Scotland.

Salmond stood down as Scotland's first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) following the September referendum, when Scots voted by 55 percent to 45 percent to remain in the United Kingdom.

Opinion polls suggest the SNP could make dramatic gains and win the vast majority of Scotland's 59 seats in the 650-member British parliament at Westminster in May.

These would mostly be at the expense of the centre-left opposition Labour Party, which has dominated Scottish politics since the 1960s, and is hoping to unseat Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives in the general election.

There had been speculation that a second referendum could be the price the left-wing SNP would exact for agreeing to prop up a Labour minority government in a hung parliament, if it holds the balance of power.

But Salmond, among those seeking election in May, said: "We are not campaigning for a second referendum -- we've had a referendum."

He said: "This Westminster election is about delivering to Scotland what was promised in the referendum and the things that people are entitled to see."

In the final days before the Scottish referendum, the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties promised Scotland sweeping new powers if voters decided to vote against independence.

Salmond insisted the parties would have to "pay the consequences" if they failed to deliver on it.

Negotiations are underway about how much extra authority the devolved government in Edinburgh should have over tax and spending, with draft legislative proposals due to be published by the end of January.

The plans do not go far enough for the SNP, which Salmond said is pushing for "as near federalism as we can get".

© 2015 AFP

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