SNP unveils independence plans

By Ian Dunt

The Scottish National party (SNP) unveiled plans for a referendum on Scottish independence today, as it presents its plans for the next legislative session at Holyrood.

The Scottish government hopes to have a vote in 2010, but faces outright opposition from all three main opposition parties.

First minister Alex Salmond suggested having further devolution – as laid out in the Calman Commission review – included as an option in the vote.

Most constitutional experts agree the most likely route for Scotland to achieve independence is through a series of ever-increasing moves towards greater devolution, rather than through an outright vote for independence.

“We need the true powers of an independent nation,” Mr Salmond told MSPs.

“It’s time for the people of Scotland to have their day.

“Not everyone will agree with our vision of the future. We know that. But the people must be heard. This parliament must not stand in their way.”

Despite his rhetoric, the referendum is highly unlikely to be allowed, given the extent of opposition in Holyrood.

The Conservatives said the government was “failing Scotland”, while Labour accused the SNP of getting distracting with talk of independence when it should be trying to tackle the recession.

The programme also featured plans for minimum pricing on alcohol and a new Forth bridge.

Mr Salmond presented a total of 13 bills.