Mhairi Black to lead SNP youth campaign as Nicola Sturgeon puts 16 and 17-year-olds at heart of Holyrood election

On first year anniversary of independence referendum, Sturgeon pledges to put the priorities of Scotland's next generation at heart of May's election

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Mhairi Black will spearhead the SNP’s youth campaign in next year’s Scottish parliament elections as 16 and 17-year-olds are given the vote for the first time.

Nicola Sturgeon said the participation of young people in last year’s independence referendum was one of its “resounding successes” and pledged to put “the views and the priorities of our young people” at the heart of the Holyrood election.

Scotland’s First Minister said it would be wrong for anyone to rule out a second vote responding to David Cameron calling for Scottish nationalists to “move on” after losing what Alex Salmond and Ms Sturgeon described as a “once in a generation” vote last year.

The No campaign won last year's referendum by a margin of more than 10 per cent

But with the threat of Britain leaving the EU, Ms Sturgeon said the prospect of Scottish independence was very much still on the table.

The UK leaving the EU could make another referendum “unstoppable,” she said as she made a speech to mark the first anniversary of the historic independence vote. 

She highlighted 24 polls published since last September’s vote that have shown majority support for independence, as well as boasting membership figures that have grown more than five-fold since the referendum.

Ms Sturgeon congratulated Jeremy Corbyn on his election as Labour leader, inviting him to join forces with the SNP to “take on and defeat the Tories” on issues such as austerity and opposition to Britain’s nuclear deterrent and hit out at Ed Miliband’s refusal to work with her.

"Only the people can decide if Scotland will become an independent country,” Ms Sturgeon said.

"Independence won’t happen just because its supporters become impatient for change".

She added: "At 5pm a year ago today, we had 25,642 members. Today, our membership stands at 112,208.”

"I congratulate Jeremy Corbyn on his election, but as the new Labour leader he faces some early tests - not least to demonstrate that he can unite his party to take on and defeat the Tories.

"I look forward to him working with us against continued austerity, in a way that his predecessor refused to do."

"I look forward to him working with us against continued austerity, in a way that his predecessor refused to do,” she said.

Announcing Ms Black’s new role, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’ve also asked our youngest MP, the talented and inspirational Mhairi Black, to spearhead our youth campaign.

“Next May will be the first opportunity for 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in a national election.

“The participation of our young people in the referendum last year was one of its resounding successes so I’m determined that the views and the priorities of our young people – Scotland’s next generation – will be at the very heart of this election.”