NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of “plotting how to divide people at the worst possible moment” after reports the party intends to put independence back on the agenda at September’s SNP conference.
The SNP’s Holyrood election manifesto stated that it would push for “an independence referendum to be held after Covid”, adding that a re-run of the 2014 vote should happen “when the crisis has passed but in time for us to equip our parliament with the full powers it needs to drive our long-term recovery from Covid”.
The party has made no secret that the three big policy themes at this year’s conference will include independence – as well as climate change and the 2022 council elections.
A draft agenda for the SNP conference, due to take place from September 10 to September 13, seen by the Daily Telegraph newspaper, reportedly shows party members will be asked to back a new drive for independence – with Scots to be told that breaking up the UK is “essential” to Scotland’s recovery form the pandemic.
The newspaper also reports another motion on the draft agenda states a new referendum should be introduced at the Scottish parliament “at the earliest moment” after a “clear end” to the pandemic.
Other reports suggest that a new commission will also be tabled at the SNP conference in a bid to show how a border between Scotland and England could “favourably benefit” an independent Scotland.
During the election campaign, the First Minister said the SNP would not push for another referendum in the 100 days of being re-elected to power, adding that her “number one priority” was keeping Scotland safe during the pandemic.
Other motions reported by the Telegraph include the state pension being lowered in an independent Scotland and everyone being legally entitled to a job.
The Scottish Conservatives have accused the First Minister of going back on her promise not to put independence back on the agenda within the first 100 days following May’s election.
The SNP conference will begin 127 days after the First Minister’s party secured a resounding election victory.
Scottish Tory constitution spokesperson, Donald Cameron, said: “Nicola Sturgeon vowed not to push for another divisive referendum for at least 100 days after the Scottish Parliament election. She’s already broken that promise.
“This draft conference agenda shows that the SNP are blatantly working on breaking up the country.
“Instead of concentrating on Covid recovery and protecting jobs, they’re plotting how to divide people at the worst possible moment, just as an economic crisis looms.”
He added: “The SNP’s eyes are off the ball again. They won’t focus on what really matters and set aside their narrow and selfish political interests for a mere 100 days, never mind the rest of the Scottish Parliament term.
“We are building Scotland’s real alternative to the SNP to end this era where jobs, schools, drug deaths and every other key issue takes a back seat to the nationalists’ obsession with another referendum.”
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, added: “Prioritising a divisive referendum over Scotland’s recovery is grossly irresponsible.
“Rather than threatening a constitutional crisis and a hard border with our friends and neighbours, the people of Scotland want their governments to focus on recovery from the pandemic.
“By working together we can ensure that no community in the UK is left behind.”
SNP MP Angus MacNeil has said the draft agenda is “good news for anyone who doesn’t want a plan for independence if indyref2 is blocked, in the next few years”, claiming that a motion for using an election as a mandate for independence did not make the agenda.
The SNP has been contacted for comment.