EDINBURGH, October 30 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst — The pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) should adopt a dual strategy for securing independence, pursuing both a new referendum and a parliamentary majority, a former Deputy Leader of the SNP has told RIA Novosti.
"I think the sensible policy is to argue for both a referendum and a majority of votes and seats for independence," Jim Sillars, a former Labour and SNP MP said.
Sillars was speaking in response to the newly confirmed leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, telling a select audience in Edinburgh Wednesday that she could not predict "whether and when" another referendum might be held, but party sources have ruled out securing a mandate for independence by simply electing a majority of Members of Parliament at elections in either Scotland or at UK level.
"Whether and when there is another referendum is not just down to what I do," Sturgeon said. "It will also depend on what they [the anti-Scottish independence parties] do," she added.
But Sillars told RIA Novosti there were inherent obstacles in trying to secure another referendum.
"The problem of relying on another referendum is that the power to let one take place lies in Westminster," Sillars said. He added that the recent referendum was enabled by Westminster, "giving the Scottish government the go-ahead, with the sovereign power reverting to Westminster one minute past 10pm on the 18th of September [the date of the Scottish independence referendum]."
According to Sillars, Westminster enabled the Scottish independence referendum because it was sure that "No" would win by a landslide of some 70 to 30. "The campaign and the result was a shock to Westminster. I doubt if it would be willing to enable another one for a very, very long time," Sillars said.
Sillars told RIA Novosti that he supported a strategy that kept the options open in terms of defining the mandate needed to declare an independent Scotland.
"If the SNP win both a majority of seats and votes on a manifesto calling for a referendum, Westminster would face a difficulty, but it might still say No," Sillars said. "I don't think it sensible to just opt for the referendum, as that, like the currency union, puts the initiative in the hands of Westminster," he added.
The referendum on Scotland's independence took place on September 18, 2014. Voters were asked a single question: Should Scotland become an independent country? The majority of the population, 55.3 percent, decided that Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom, whereas 44.7 percent voted for the secession.