Scots against independence because of 'years of disinformation and scare-mongering' says Mike Russell
The SNP’s president has claimed that Scots who don't support independence have been subjected to “years of disinformation and scaremongering" about leaving the UK.
Speaking virtually at the party’s conference, Michael Rusell also urged supporters not to “hector” and “insult” those "not yet convinced” of their arguments.
The former Brexit minister, who was recently appointed as the political director of the SNP’s independence unit, also said he wanted to “re-establish constructive links with all parts of the Yes movement who are willing to work positively and with mutual respect to secure the referendum and independence.”
Russell told the conference that the pandemic had “inevitably meant that the work that was building towards another independence referendum had to pause”.
He added: “But as restrictions ease, we must also prepare ourselves again for that most normal, but most essential of steps – seeking the approval of the Scottish people to rejoin the world as an independent nation, making our own decisions about how to build forward to a better future.
“The phrase the ‘new normal’ is used often to describe what we need to create after the pandemic. For Scotland, that new normal has to be the normality of independence.”
Russell continued: “I am sure that no one at conference needs persuaded that independence is what we must have to create the prosperous, fair, outward looking nation that we all want to live in.
“But there are others who are not yet convinced. They have been subject to years of disinformation and scare-mongering.
“And it has to be admitted that, sometimes, the impatience and rhetoric of some in our movement has worried them too.
“To bring them over to our side we need to help not hector, inform not insult.
“So, as the pandemic eases, we need to continue our previous work – building a successful, positive campaign for independence, which not only retains existing support but also re-assures and attracts those who are not yet with us.”
The SNP stalwart said the date of the next referendum had to be at the “optimum moment, so as to ensure that any independence referendum campaign can not only be held safely and in a way that maximises the opportunity for conversion – but also when it is most likely to conclude with the victory which we must have”.
Responding to Russell’s speech, Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “There is nothing normal about wanting to impose deeper austerity on our NHS and schools, abolish our currency, or build a border between friends and families.
“You can’t create a greener society by weakening the influence of the UK, and you can’t create a fairer society by putting people’s jobs and livelihoods at risk.
“Mike Russell is a broken record with tired old arguments that don’t reflect the priorities of the people of Scotland.
“Scots want their political leaders to focus on the NHS, Covid recovery, jobs and the climate emergency – and we do that by working together to build a better future for every community in the UK.”