Election 2015 Scotland

Election 2015: Row over second independence referendum warning

Gordon Brown and Nicola Sturgeon

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said the SNP have a "chilling" plan for a second referendum on independence.

Campaigning in Renfrewshire, he said the nationalists want an SNP vote in the general election in order to "force" a second poll.

Launching the SNP's "women's pledge", Nicola Sturgeon said this election was "not about independence".

Meanwhile the Lib Dems set out plans for green laws and the Scottish Conservatives focused on jobs.

As the penultimate weekend of campaigning got under way, SNP leader Ms Sturgeon joined female activists and actor and campaigner Elaine C Smith in Glasgow to launch the party's women's pledge, which commits the SNP and its members to delivering policies that promote equality.

Voice heard

Ms Sturgeon said: "SNP MPs at Westminster will stand up for gender equality at every turn. We will work for an end to austerity, for equal pay, more and better jobs and to end the barriers that still block the aspirations of too many women in Scotland and across the UK."

As part of its women's pledge, the SNP said it would:

  • Support women into work by increasing free childcare, raising the minimum wage, ending zero hours contracts, and ending the gender pay gap
  • Invest in women by continuing free education and increasing apprenticeships
  • Ensure that no girl grows up or woman lives in fear of abuse and violence

One the issue of Scottish independence, the first minister said it was not on the agenda during this campaign.

She said: "People can vote SNP knowing that that won't be taken by me, or by the SNP, as a mandate for independence or for a referendum.

"I think the leaders of the Westminster parties really need a basic lesson in democracy. It's up to people in Scotland to decide how we want to make our voice heard."

Speaking at Elderslie Village Hall in Renfrewshire, Mr Brown said the SNP wanted to win seats in the House of Commons "not to deliver social justice" but to "deliver" chaos and constant crisis".

He referred to a video posted on YouTube last month, understood to have been filmed in November last year, featuring SNP candidate Mhairi Black.

He said: "There is an SNP candidate in this constituency. She says vote SNP, get SNP MPs at Westminster and we will twist their arms and get another referendum.

"Remember what the SNP used to say - the referendum was once in a generation, then it changed a little to once in a lifetime, then it was once every 15 years and now when you ask Ms Sturgeon about this her answers are all evasion. She cannot give a straight answer to the question."

Responding to Mr Brown's comments, an SNP spokesman said Ms Black had been making the point that "if the people of Scotland do in the future decide there should be another referendum the Westminster establishment must not stand in their way."

Radical agenda

During his speech, Mr Brown also insisted that you don't have to be a nationalist to be a patriot.

He said "proud, patriotic Scots desperate for change" would only be satisfied by a Labour government.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie highlighted the party's green record as he took part in the annual Pedal on Parliament rally in Edinburgh.

Mr Rennie made the journey into Edinburgh from his home in Fife with a group of local cyclists, and joined Lib Dem activists and thousands of other cyclists in the Meadows ahead of an appearance at the rally.

He set out his party's plans to introduce five green laws to put the environment at the heart of government policy.

He said: "Liberal Democrats are the only party to have nailed their green credentials to the mast, and set out how our radical agenda will be delivered in a way that is both credible and affordable."

"Protecting the environment is in the Lib Dem's DNA, and having five green laws on the front page of our manifesto shows our intent.

"From day one of the next Parliament we will have our green commitments on the table, from cleaning up the air we breathe, to greening the energy and transport we use. These are Liberal Democrats commitments because they build a fairer society."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson visited a falconry centre in Fife and a street stall in Stirling.

Speaking to shoppers, Ms Davidson talked up her party's plans to keep pushing ahead with "Britain's jobs miracle".

She said employment had increased by 178,000 since the Conservatives came to office.

On the issue of a second independence referendum, Ms Davidson said: "A vote for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party is a vote to keep Scotland in the UK.

"We will do no deals with the SNP because we believe that Scotland has had its say in the referendum and that should be it for a generation, same way that we were promised."

A full list of all the candidates standing in Paisley and Renfrewshire South is available here.

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