Alex Salmond resists referendum calls

 

Alex Salmond has dismissed fresh attempts at the Scottish Parliament to force an early referendum on independence.

The First Minister insisted he will stick to his plan and put the question to a ballot in autumn 2014.

The highly-charged constitutional debate shifted back to Edinburgh from London following days of wrangling between the UK and Scottish governments.

Mr Salmond has already rejected Prime Minister David Cameron's offer to grant MSPs the temporary power to hold an earlier "legal" referendum.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) leader, who won a majority at Holyrood last May, wants a specially-created body to oversee the referendum, which would be open to people as young as 16 north of the border.

He said: "The people of Scotland spoke in the election and their voice was very clear indeed.

"A referendum orgainsed in Scotland, built in Scotland, for the Scottish people, discussed with civic Scotland and then brought to the people in 2014 for a historic decision on the future of this nation."

Although the independence referendum was in the manifesto, the first reference to it being in the second half of the five-year parliament was made days before the election in a televised debate.

Newly-elected Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, leading a debate on Scotland's future at Holyrood today, suggested Mr Salmond lacks the courage to bring forward the timing of a referendum.

She said: "What's he frightened of? He can get any legislation he likes past this parliament.

"He has a mandate, he has a majority, surely it cannot be he does not have the courage to face the verdict of the Scottish people?

"He says independence will be the cure of all Scotland's ills. The economy will be transformed by what his spin doctors say are job-creating powers. His finance minister says we'll be the sixth richest nation on earth. Scotland will be free and proud.

"He is Moses who has led his people to the brink of the promised land but, as they view it from the mountain tops, says to them, 'let's camp outside for a few more years before we go in'."

She said it is bizarre that the pro-independence SNP opposes unionist calls for a "legal, firm and decisive referendum, held soon". Labour, Tories and Lib Dems want the Electoral Commission to oversee the ballot.

Ms Lamont began the debate at Holyrood by saying it is her "patriotic belief" that Scotland should stay within the United Kingdom.

During the debate, the First Minister cast his memory back to the late 1970s, highlighting the previous involvement of a Westminster government in a Scottish referendum.

He referred to a controversial bar imposed on the first devolution referendum which meant 40% of the electorate had to vote "yes". The limit was not achieved, even though more people voted in favour.

He also warned the Labour Party not to get too close to the Conservatives.

Yesterday, Mr Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband joined forces in the House of Commons in pledging to fight for Scotland to remain part of the UK.

Mr Salmond said: "Let me warn the Labour Party, if they go in with the Tories they'll suck you in and they'll spit you out as they've done to the Liberal Democrats."

The exchanges were made as a new poll conducted by YouGov for the Sun newspaper put support for independence at 33% with 53% against and 14% undecided.

The same level of support for Scottish independence was found among voters in England and Wales.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: "Every opinion poll ever published shows that the people of Scotland agree with me - Scotland is better off in Britain."

She said the offer from the UK Government to temporarily extend Holyrood's powers is a "reasonable and constructive offer".

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie referred to the US elections of 2000 which saw a dispute over recounting in Florida eventually settled in the US Supreme Court.

He said: "We've been fortunate in the United Kingdom that legal challenges to elections have not dominated the political process.

"But that could all change. The problem we face is not the specific type of referendum - advisory or binding - that matters, it is the substance of the question being posed that counts. Constitutional matters are reserved to Westminster, even though the mandate is here."

Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie urged both sides to give ground on the argument.

"I think the Scottish Government should accept there's a legitimate role for the Electoral Commission," he said.

"Similarly, the UK Government could and should give ground on other issues, like votes for 16 and 17-year-olds.

"These steps, each side giving a wee bit of ground, would set a whole new tone, and that's the spirit we need to go forward on."

PA

News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (C++ / C# / HTML, Java Angular.js) London

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A world leading business intellig...

Application Support Analyst-(UNIX, Linux, Financial Services)

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support Analyst-(UNIX...

Application Support Analyst - SQL, UNIX, Linux

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support Analyst - SQL...

Application Support - FIX protocol, UNIX, SQL, Windows, OMS

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support - FIX protoco...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition