Scottish Independence: Alex Salmond Says Campaign Will Begin In May
The Scottish independence campaign will be launched in May more than two years before the yes campaign's preferred date, First Minister Alex Salmond said today.
Mr Salmond, who won an unprecedented majority in the Scottish Parliament last year, said it would not be run only by the SNP but would feature a "broad-based" range of supporters, including unions and employers.
In an interview with the BBC's Sunday Politics programme, Mr Salmond said he wanted a long campaign, with the referendum in autumn 2014, to ensure voters in Scotland had answers to all the open questions about the implications of the decision.
He said opponents of independence seemed to agree on nothing but the need to say no and pledged his party would be able to answer all voters' questions.
Mr Salmond said: "The people who seem to argue for a no seem to be in no fit position to argue their case. They don't even know what their case is.
"I think it is important when we come to the referendum in 2014 people will have an exact proposition on independence, which I pledge to give. All of the questions (will be) answered to people's satisfaction.
"I think we will win the referendum. In fact, so confident are we about winning the referendum, shortly after the local elections in Scotland in May and when the final position on the Scottish Government's consultation, which is I think May 11, then the yes campaign will be launched.
"That won't just be the Scottish National Party. That will be a broad-based campaign with civic Scotland, job creators of Scotland, with the unions of Scotland, a variety of people coming together to enunciate the case for Scotland.
"There will be a positive approach which will contrast very markedly with the opponents united only in their negativity."
Mr Salmond was pressed during the interview on the economics of such a move and what keeping the pound would mean for a newly independent Scotland.
He said the SNP would be promoting a new "sterling area" which would involved a fiscal stability pact, meaning limits on borrowing.
The First Minister told the programme: "Your fiscal room for manoeuvre is limited in the modern world anyway.
"Let's say your stability pact said over the long term your borrowing should not exceed 3% of GDP. I would argue that is no more than the fiscal discipline a sensible country would have in any case.
"There would have to be a stability pact which would have criteria on what they could borrow."
Mr Salmond explained his change in position on whether Scotland should join the euro, saying the "facts have changed, so my view has changed".
A monetary union between the UK and Scotland would operate well because the two economies were already closely matched, Mr Salmond said, unlike some of the economies within the troubled eurozone.
He said a newly independent Scotland would be a successor state to the European Union and would not have to apply for new membership from scratch.
The SNP leader said documents published by his Government on the issue were consistent with legal advice from the Scottish Government's law officers but said it was not the practice of either the UK or Scottish Government to release legal advice.
Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie rounded off his party's spring conference with an attack on Mr Salmond who he accused of spending too much time with "billionaires".
Mr Rennie said the First Minister prefers to court the rich and powerful, naming media mogul Rupert Murdoch, US tycoon Donald Trump and Stagecoach founder Brian Souter.
In the final speech of the three-day conference in Inverness, Mr Rennie appealed to the SNP leader to spend more time with the "dispossessed" instead.
He said: "Our First Minister prefers to court the rich and powerful rather than the dispossessed and the vulnerable.
"Giggling on the golf course with Donald Trump who denies climate change. Up the back of the bus with Brian Souter, the man who denies gay people equality in our Scotland. And now he's got Rupert Murdoch on speed dial, inviting him round for fireside chats at Bute House."
He continued: "Rupert, Brian and Donald: the would-be midwives of independent Scotland.
"It's too much time with billionaires, not enough time with the dispossessed and vulnerable."