Vote for independence not a vote for SNP, says Salmond
Leader of Scottish nationalists attempts to woo Labour supporters to vote Yes in referendum
Scottish first minister Alex Salmond delivers his speech at the Scottish National Party spring conference in Aberdeen. Photograph: Reuters/Russell Cheyne
His declaration is a bid to woo supporters of the Labour Party to a Yes vote in September’s referendum, as they will be crucial in the outcome.
“A Yes vote in September is not a vote for an SNP government in 2016,” he told 1,000 delegates at the SNP’s Aberdeen conference.
An independent Scottish government would be in charge of key issues, including tax, the economy and welfare, along with immigration and EU policy.
“That may be the SNP. It may be Labour. It may be a coalition,” he declared, acknowledging poisonous relations between the two parties.
In a nod to women voters, Mr Salmond announced that two more women will be promoted into the Scottish Government’s cabinet.
So far in the campaign, Mr Salmond has promoted his deputy leader and likely successor, Nicola Sturgeon, partly because he is less popular with women voters.
Opinion polls show that the gap between pro-independence and pro-union sides is narrowing, though most voters would reject independence if asked tomorrow.
However, the “Yes, Scotland” campaign believes it has momentum, pointing to the hundreds of public meetings it has organised.
Mocking the campaign run by the pro-union “Better Together” campaign, Mr Salmond said it is, “the most miserable, negative, depressing and thoroughly boring campaign in modern political history”.
Meanwhile, he ridiculed the warning from former Labour defence secretary, George Robertson, who was later head of Nato. In a speech in Washington, Robertson said “the loudest cheers for the break-up of Britain would be from our adversaries and from our enemies”, adding it would be “cataclysmic in geo-political terms”.
“Darth Vader, Ming the Merciless, the Klingons and Lex Luthor must all be watching the campaign closely. The Daleks though are not so happy,” Mr Salmond said, to SNP cheers.
British ministers debated the independence referendum at length last week, amid mounting concern about flaws in the Better Together campaign.
Some see it as too Conservative in a country where the Conservatives hold just one Scottish seat in the House of Commons. Labour is naturally reluctant to tie itself too closely because of this.Labour in Scotland is still struggling to recover from its 2011 trouncing in the Holyrood elections – when the SNP achieved a majority believed impossible.
Efforts were made when the Yes campaign began to bring in voices from outside the SNP, though it has become more and more dominated by the SNP.