Scotland: Sturgeon and Douglas Ross clash during debate
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The SNP’s Keith Brown appeared alongside Labour’s Ian Murray and the Conservative’s Murdo Fraser to debate the upcoming Scottish Parliamentary election and to pitch their parties as the ones to vote for. But as Mr Brown toned down the rhetoric surrounding Scottish independence which has been the key political issue during the campaign he was accused of pushing aside independence in light of negative polls. Mr Murray could be heard sighing in the background as the SNP deputy leader attempted to claw back the argument.
Speaking on Good Morning Scotland on BBC Radio Scotland, Mr Brown was asked: “How difficult has it been for SNP candidates who are making their way very gingerly between those of your supporters who are desperate for another independence referendum and would start talking about it tomorrow.
“And those who understand that there are people who need to be persuaded to vote for independence and they’re not so keen on it – how difficult has that been and how have people been talking about it on the doorsteps?”
Mr Brown replied: “But that’s the very stuff of politics that you stand for what you believe in and you can be quite clear on that and try to persuade people to your point of view.
“I think that is what we have done and we’re said what we want and that we want the recovery first we want the best person to lead that recovery which is Nicola Sturgeon.
“You want to make sure that you have the real powers to make a proper recover which we believe really rests on the choice [made] by the people of Scotland for how they want to do that.”
SNP MSPs are conflicted over when the independence referendum should be held with Commons leader Ian Blackford insisting it should be held this year.
But SNP politician Pete Wishart who has been a nationalist for more than 20 years said it was likely to see a referendum in 2022.
President of the SNP Michael Russell revealed the vote could be held six months after the May 6 election meaning it would be in time for Christmas.
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The divisions among the SNP were picked up by the BBC radio host who asked Mr Brown: “So you’re kicking [independence] into the long grass at the moment because the polls are showing that people aren’t really that keen on an independence referendum?”
A frustrated Mr Brown then replied: “Absolutely not, it is in our manifesto and Nicola Sturgeon said it time and time again that we will have the referendum when it is safe to do so.”
Labour’s Ian Murray was heard sighing during Mr Brown’s answer and was asked what his party’s position on independence was due to their deliberate distancing from the issue.
He explained: “Let me just say for the millionth time and I’m very surprised that we keep getting this question… we’re against independence and we’re against a second referendum.
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“Anas Sarwar has been pretty clear that the entirety of the next Scottish Parliament should be to focus on national recovery.
“That is what the polls are telling us and that is what the people are telling us on the doorsteps.”
Mr Murray concluded by saying a vote for the SNP mean parliament would only focus on independence and not the bigger issues.
A poll conducted by Sky News found support for independence was split 50-50 in Scotland which also saw less calls for a referendum as the years went on.
28 percent wanted a referendum in the next two years if the SNP win the election which decreased to 14 percent who wanted a referendum in 2-5 years.
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