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by Louise Wilson
07 July 2023
Jim Sillars: We are in no position to win a referendum

Jim Sillars: We are in no position to win a referendum

Scotland would not back independence if a referendum were held immediately, former deputy leader of the SNP Jim Sillars has said.

Addressing an Alba meeting in Edinburgh, Sillars said the Scottish Government were “lucky” the UK Government hadn’t heeded its calls for a vote “because we are in no position to win”.

He criticised the SNP for focusing solely on a referendum without moving support for independence forward and said the party could no longer be trusted to advance those arguments.

And he backed the creation of a single pro-independence organisation, not affiliated to any party, to campaign for Scottish independence.

Sillars said: “For seven wasted years the SNP elevated a referendum as the be all and end all of Scottish politics. They have done so while support for independence has been a consistent minority.

“We are lucky the UK government didn’t, and does not, grant the Sturgeon-Yousaf wish, because we are in no position to win a referendum.

“Our movement faces a double reality. Not only are we stuck, but we are in no condition at present to win over those unionist votes we need for that substantial majority.”

Last month the SNP held an Independence Convention in Dundee, during which First Minister Humza Yousaf reiterated his preference would be for the UK Government to grant a section 30 order to allow a second referendum to go ahead.

Failing that, Yousaf said his party would contest the next general election with a manifesto pledge of: “Vote SNP for Scotland to become an independent nation.”

The plan will be put to the party’s membership at its autumn conference.

Sillars, formally a Labour MP before joining the SNP in the 80s, has long been a critic of the party he once was at the top of.

In the run-up to the 2021 Holyrood election, he backed Alex Salmond’s new Alba party – though he previously told Holyrood he remained a member of the SNP and did not intend to join Alba.

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