Nicola Sturgeon has taken a swipe at pro-Union parties ahead of next month’s council elections by claiming they are “pretty much the same.”
The First Minister seized on comments made by a former Labor MP, who encouraged Scots to vote tactically for the Tories.
The SNP leader was in Greenock today to launch her party’s local government manifesto.
The document included a pledge that Nationalist councilors would “support the Scottish Government’s plan to give the people of Scotland the opportunity to choose the country’s future in an independence referendum in the first half of this parliamentary term”.
Pamela Nash, the chief executive of Scotland in Union, had yesterday warned “pro-separation councillors” would be fixed on the SNP leader’s push for IndyRef2 if elected on May 5.
She said people should use their preference votes to back the Tories, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Independents on the ballot – and ignore the SNP, Greens and Alba.
Nash – a Labor MP until 2015 – said: ‘We don’t need any more SNP or Green councillors who spend time and resources on preparing for an unwanted and divisive second referendum.’
Asked about Scotland in Union’s claims, Sturgeon said today: “Yes, SNP councilors will support independence and will support the Scottish Government’s mandate to deliver an independence referendum.
“I think it would be a strange version of democracy if anything other than that will be the case.
“In terms of the comments from Scotland in Union – what can I say?
“Other than it just proves Labour, the Tories, the Lib Dems… Better Together, they’re back together and I think people will know that one is pretty much the same as the other in many respects.”
Better Together was the official cross-party campaign in 2014 which urged Scots to vote against independence.
Labor was a member but some in the party have subsequently argued it was a mistake for them to campaign alongside the Conservatives.
Sturgeon also used her Greenock speech to blast Boris Johnson and blamed the Tories for the cost of living crisis facing many Scots.
She said: “SNP Councillors – in partnership with our government at Holyrood – will strain every sinew to help families and communities through to that better future.
“And we will demand the Tory government at Westminster takes action on the crisis that it has done so much to create.
“This is the clear choice facing the people of Scotland on May 5. It is a choice between SNP action, compassion and leadership.
“Or Tory inaction, self-interest, complacency and sleaze. To people across Scotland – please do not sit this election out. Don’t let others decide your future for you. Let’s tell the Tories exactly what we think of their antics and their inaction.”
Responding to the First Minister’s speech, Nash said: “This confirms that every SNP councilor elected will spend valuable time trying to further Nicola Sturgeon’s ambition to divide us once again, instead of improving local public services.
“They will be campaigning for an unwanted referendum as early as next year rather than standing up for local communities in the face of SNP cuts.
“We need more local champions who focus on what really matters to people, not cheerleaders for Nicola Sturgeon.”
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