SNP’s Russell: We should make common cause with everyone who wants independence

The SNP president Mike Russell said that the SNP should be willing to work with everyone who supports Scottish independence.

Mike Russell
Mike Russell

The SNP president has called for the party to “re-establish constructive links with all parts of the Yes movement” in an attempt to secure another independence referendum.

Mike Russell told the SNP conference that they should be open to working with any pro-independence faction “who want to make common cause”.

The former SNP MSP said the independence movement should “work hand in hand” with other parties, groups and grassroots campaigners “to secure the referendum and independence”.

His plea comes on the eve of the Alba conference; the party led by previous SNP leader and first minister, Alex Salmond, and which attracted numerous defections including ex-SNP MPs Kenny McAskill and Neale Hanvey.

It also follows a formal agreement between the SNP and the pro-independence Scottish Greens to work together at Holyrood, with a push for another referendum a key plank of their agreement to enter government.

Nicola Sturgeon independence speech
Former SNP MSP Mike Russell said independence should be the target for a ‘new normal’ (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Russell argued that – in the push for Scottish independence – the SNP should not “take responsibility for bringing it all to fruition” by itself.

Instead, a key priority should be “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,” he said.

“I hope we can all work together on a range of projects and issues including the transitional constitution.”

Mr Russell, who also acts as political director of the party’s independence unit, said that independence should be seen as the “new normal”.

Referencing the phrase used repeatedly about the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, he said the SNP must set out a new vision “as a matter of urgency”.

Concluding his speech to conclude the first of the four-day SNP conference, Mr Russell described himself as “impatient” for independence and said: “I’m keen to get on and get the job done.

“But, like all jobs, it needs planning, determination, and collaboration.

“So let’s finish the task. Let’s do so positively together, hand in hand with those who share our cause if not, our party.

“Let’s do so as a nation seeking unity among ourselves, friendship with our neighbours and an equal place in the world, a talented outward-looking confident nation, building forward after the pandemic – building forward to Scotland’s new normal: independence.”

Following the speech, chief executive of the Scotland in Union campaign group, Pamela Nash, 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.”

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