SNP shares Mel's vision of Scotland the Brave

JOHN ARLIDGE

Scotland Correspondent

The Scottish National Party is to use the latest "kilt movie", Mel Gibson's Braveheart, to launch a recruitment drive.

Party leaders hope the film, which tells the story of William Wallace, the 13th-century hero, will win over Scots to the independence cause. Cinema-goers will receive leaflets urging them to join the SNP when the film goes on general release later this month. They say: "You've seen the movie - Now face the reality."

Although Wallace defied the English 700 years ago, SNP leaders say his message is relevant today. Paul Scott, the party's vice-president, said yesterday: "Wallace saw independence as a prerequisite for common good. He realised that without it, the freedom of his country to trade, to develop resources and freely to decide on alliances and its own priorities would be destroyed.

"In modern terms, the desires of civic nationalism are exactly the same. We can have no economic future unless we invest our own resources in that future. We can play no effective role in Europe unless we speak with an independent voice."

The leaflets, which activists will hand out all over Scotland, say that independence "is not just history. Most European nations have it. Scotland needs it again - and now almost 40 per cent of the Scottish people agree. Most of them vote SNP. Today, it's not just bravehearts who choose independence, it's also wise heads."

The pounds 50m film, starring Gibson and Sophie Marceau, receives its European premiere in Stirling this weekend.

The distributor, Twentieth Century-Fox, was alarmed by remarks made last weekend by Alex Salmond, the SNP leader, who is attending the premiere. At the annual Wallace rally in Stonehaven, near Aberdeen, Mr Salmond told sword-carrying kilted revellers he would "decapitate Michael Forsyth [the Secretary of State for Scotland] at the intermission".

Yesterday Sir Michael Hirst, the chairman of the Scottish Tories, called on Mr Salmond to apologise for his "foolish and tactless" remarks. Mr Salmond refused. An SNP spokesman said Sir Michael "did not know a joke when he heard one".

Leading article, page 16

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