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UK Politics

Scottish independence: Michael Moore and Alex Salmond clash over future of country

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore says the SNP would 'pretty well say anything and do anything' to win referendum as First Minister Alex Salmond argues for a move away from current 'undemocratic' system

The main proponents on either side of the Scottish independence debate returned to campaigning today, with Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and First Minister Alex Salmond delivering conflicting speeches on the future of the country.

Mr Moore argued that after poor showing at initial polls, the SNP is going to overhaul its rhetoric and “pretty well say anything and do anything” to win the referendum next year.

Giving a speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research at Glasgow University, the UK Government minister accused the Nationalists of attempting to “de-risk, deflect and distract” from the challenges that would face an independent Scotland.

He said: “When it comes to their rhetoric about an independent Scotland, the SNP has retreated a long way in a short time.

”They no longer want to talk about how different things would be. The want us to believe instead that so much could stay the same.“

With polls so far failing to show a majority support for independence, the Scottish Secretary claimed: ”Having looked at the numbers, the SNP leadership has come to fear that independence is a product that too few Scots are willing to buy.

“So, to sell the goods, they are changing the packaging.”

Meanwhile, during a speech in Campbeltown, Argyll, where he is holding a cabinet meeting with his key ministerial team, Mr Salmond said an independent Scotland could be inspired by a new written constitution and the benefits of a move away from the “profoundly undemocratic” system at Westminster.

He said the process of drawing up its own constitution would provide Scotland with “a chance to reflect on the democracy and society we want to live in, the values that we most cherish”.

The First Minister spoke of Scotland’s “six unions”, and said that while he wants to break the political union the country would retain other ties, such as the European Union, the defence union, the currency union and the union of the crowns.

“The social union - the ties of family and friendship connecting the people of these islands - will endure, regardless of the choices of governments,” he said.

The Scottish Government is set to publish a white paper this autumn that will set out the case for leaving the UK, and Mr Moore challenged it to be “straight with the people” when doing so.

The final referendum will be held on 18 September next year, with the electorate in Scotland answering the yes/no question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”