Nicola Sturgeon must set out a “plan of action” to prove she is serious about her pledge to hold an independence referendum, former first minister Alex Salmond has said.
His comments come as his successor Ms Sturgeon prepares to outline her plans to hold a second referendum without the approval of the UK Government.
A vote on Scotland’s future in the UK will be held in October 2023, Ms Sturgeon has previously declared.
However the Westminster Government has repeatedly rejected a section 30 order – a clause in the Scotland Act that would allow a legal referendum to be held.
Mr Salmond – who oversaw the SNP’s previous independence campaign in 2014 before parting ways with the party in 2018 following allegations of sexual misconduct – has now urged Ms Sturgeon to lead a campaign of civic action.
The Alba Party leader was acquitted of all charges in 2020 and received £500,000 in compensation from the Scottish Government.
In his speech to Alba members, Mr Salmond is expected to say: “The SNP Government are committed to a referendum in October next year – ‘no ifs, no buts’ – but will require clarity of vision if they are to fulfil that commitment to Scotland.”
He said the case for independence must encompass all independence groups – and not just the SNP and the Greens who are in the Scottish Government.
“The SNP/Green coalition has become accident prone and the argument for independence is far more important that the temporary popularity of any political party,” members will hear.
He has urged Ms Sturgeon not to refer to a section 30 order as the “gold standard” approach to independence.
Mr Salmond agreed the order allowed the 2014 vote to go ahead, but said there are a number of other ways to give “democratic substance to Scotland’s national right to self-determination”.
In his address to Alba National Council members in Stirling on Sunday, Mr Salmond will also stress the importance of all pro-independence groups collaborating to secure a Yes vote, at the time when Boris Johnson is “bruised”.
It comes after the Conservatives last week lost two by-elections – Wakefield to Labour and Tiverton and Honiton in Devon to the Liberal Democrats.
The Prime Minster has faced a tumultuous few weeks, during which he survived a vote of confidence despite 148 of his MPs backing his removal.
Mr Salmond will say: “The by-election-bruised Boris Johnson Government is in its death throes and Westminster difficulty is indeed Scotland’s opportunity.
“However, we must be aware that any gain for Scotland will still have to be extracted like pulling teeth.
“It will require a determined campaign of civic action, parliamentary intervention and diplomatic initiative to press home Scotland’s claim of right.
“If the SNP/Green coalition are indeed serious about honouring their solemn pledge on an independence referendum in October next year, then they need to spell out such a plan of action in support of an independence strategy.”
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