Scotland politics

Scots independence conference held in Glasgow

Yes2 sticker Image copyright AFP
Image caption The conference is aimed at building strategy and momentum for a second independence referendum

A conference of independence activists aimed at preparing Scotland for another referendum has been held in Glasgow.

The Scottish Independence Convention is hosted the "Build" meeting at the Radisson hotel in the city.

MPs and MSPs from the SNP and the Scottish Greens joined activists and academics in speaking at the event.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has ruled out an independence vote in 2017, with opposition parties calling for it to be taken off the table altogether.

The Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) was active in campaigning during the 2014 referendum and held a "reassembly" as part of events to mark the second anniversary of that vote.

The 800 tickets for the "Build: strategy - policy - movement" event were sold out.

Image copyright Scottish Independence Convention
Image caption Actress and SIC convener Elaine C Smith opened the conference

Opening the conference, SIC convener Elaine C Smith reminisced about independence gatherings 10 years ago which consisted of "about eight of us sitting in a Quaker meeting house on a wet Tuesday night".

She went on: "What a difference. We dreamed of days like this. I can also tell you we could have sold this three times over. So much for a lack of interest for self determination, for independence for Scotland."

Ms Smith said Scotland was a "beacon of light" in a political climate where there was "an attack on enlightened views".

But she also stressed that the job of winning over Scots who remained sceptical about independence may be a "long process".

She said: "Let's wait for the people. We have to be ready for when the people are ready.

"We have to be ready with the ideas and the arguments to answer the questions, to answer the doubts.

"And we have to be honest that some parts of the Yes movement, much as it was wonderful in lots of ways, we did not have those answers. We were not ready. We have to be grown up and look at that. But that's what this conference is the start of."

Image copyright Scottish Independence Convention
Image caption About 800 people attended the gathering in Glasgow

Cabinet secretary Angela Constance also spoke at the event, alongside Scottish Greens co-convener Maggie Chapman.

Ms Constance said: "We must not assume that people's views, whether they were Yes or whether they were No, are the same as they were two years ago.

"Instead, the independence movement, our movement, must engage with a fresh perspective and an open mind."

The SNP minister said it was necessary to learn lessons from on the result of the 2014 independence vote in which Scots voted by 55% to 45% to remain part of the UK.

She said: "We can look at the peak from different sides of the mountain. We know there is not a single route or a short cut to the summit and some paths will be steeper or longer than others

"So sometimes it is difficult to know what the best path to take is.

"Public opinion and events drive influence and inform campaigns - and we cannot exist in a political bubble if we are to connect with people and their communities.

"At the same time nothing, absolutely nothing should stop us from building a new campaign for a new Scotland together and making the case for independence at each and every opportunity."

There will also be discussion of the independence white paper project set up by think tank Common Weal.

The first draft of the paper drawn up by the group charts the possible process of independence, including proposals for a new Scottish currency and a referendum on a written constitution and EU membership as part of a three-year transition.

'Not bluffing'

It also includes "very rough" estimates of the economics of an independent Scotland, suggesting that there would be an £18.8bn one-off cost of setting up the institutions of a new state and that the country would run an £8.8bn deficit in its first year.

Nicola Sturgeon has commissioned research of her own via a national survey and a "growth commission" headed by former MSP Andrew Wilson.

She has ruled out holding a referendum in 2017, but has insisted she is "not bluffing" about holding one over Brexit. Her predecessor Alex Salmond has predicted a referendum in Autumn 2018.

The Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems all oppose independence, and want a second referendum taken off the table altogether.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has accused Ms Sturgeon of "leaving Scotland in limbo", saying she should "ditch her draft referendum bill" and "move on from constitutional navel-gazing".

Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley said his party was focusing on more immediate problems facing ordinary Scots.

He said: "While nationalists gathered in Glasgow for a talking shop about independence, Scottish Labour supporters were out in force across the country this weekend to campaign for our valued local public services."

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