What EXACTLY did SNP say about a second Scottish independence referendum in 2014?

Much has been written in recent days about the prospect of a new Scottish independence referendum – and in particular, whether it clashes with promises made in 2014 by the SNP leadership.

By Adam Kula
Monday, 10th May 2021, 6:49 pm
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 11:12 pm
Alex Salmond campaigning in 2014
Alex Salmond campaigning in 2014

A number of commentators have noted that having another referendum by 2023 – as the SNP promised in their manifesto for last week’s election, in which the party emerged as by far the largest in that country’s parliament – goes against the spirit of what Alex Salmond said at the time of the last such vote.

Here the News Letter unearths exactly what Mr Salmond did say.

On the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on June 8, 2014, Mr Salmond – then the leader of the SNP – had said: “I’ve said a number of times, Andrew, that my view is referendum and the constitution are once in a political generation.

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“I mean that’s my assessment and that’s why it’s so important that, given this opportunity, which of course is really the first democratic consented opportunity in Scottish history to vote for independence.”

Speaking again to the BBC’s Andrew Marr just four days before that vote, Mr Salmond was asked what he meant by “once-in-a-political-generation”.

He responded by giving the example of the 1979 devolution referendum which gave the green light for a Scottish Assembly, and the 1997 referendum on creating a Scottish Parliament with real tax-raising powers.

Mr Marr put it to him that he was talking about a gap of about 18 years, and Mr Salmond murmured “yeah”.

To be absolutely clear, Mr Salmond was asked: “Can you pledge Alex Salmond won’t bring back another referendum if you don’t win this one?”

He replied: “That’s my view. This is a once in a generation, perhaps even once in a lifetime, opportunity for Scotland.”

And it did not stop with Mr Salmond.

The Scottish Conservative Party a few years ago produced a video showing Nicola Sturgeon repeating essentially the same thing.

In just one of many clips featured, Ms Sturgeon says that “these kind of referendums are once-in-a-generation events”, and “this is a probably once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

More from this reporter:

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Alistair Bushe