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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
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

Service Technician

£30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Energy Sales Co-ordinator

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Energy Sales Consultant

£25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Soutions Architect (Production - Hydrocarbon Acctg)

£65000 - £75000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Progressive ...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil