Marching for Independence - Independence First March on 30th September
INDEPENDENCE FIRST the Scottish independence referendum campaign have reacted angrily to the decision yesterday by the Scottish Parliament’s public petitions committee to mothball their e-petition for a referendum. “Democracy has been denied.” said Joe Middleton Media Officer of Independence First. "This is a shocking decision by the Scottish Executive. The people must have a choice whether they want to remain in the union or not."
MSPs (on 15/11/2006) voted down calls for Holyrood to debate holding a referendum on Scottish independence. Independence First’s petition had attracted over 1,300 signatures in support and called on MSPs to debate what the Parliament could do to bring about an early referendum. However members of Holyrood's Public Petitions Committee voted by six to three to simply note the petition and close it, taking no further action.
Sandra White, the SNP MSP for the Glasgow region, had wanted to find out ministers' views on the matter. She insisted: "I think the Scottish Parliament does have the powers to look at this, setting up a referendum. There's nothing to stop the Scottish Parliament arranging for a referendum because that would not involve a change in the law."
That was supported by former SNP member Campbell Martin. Mr Martin, now an independent MSP for the West of Scotland, said the unionist parties should not be scared of holding such a vote. He said: "If you are not scared of democracy and people power, I don't see why you shouldn't ask the people this question and why the Scottish Parliament should not play a part in doing that. Let's ask the Executive whether it can do anything to facilitate such a referendum and what its position would be."
But Jackie Baillie, the Labour MSP for Dumbarton, argued Scots had had their say on the issue at last year's general election. She said: "At the last democratic opportunity for people to voice their opinion on this, the general election, I believe the share of the vote for parties supporting independence dropped substantially."
Mr Middleton commented: “A UK general election with a biased London based media is not a good test of Scottish opinion! Support for independence supporting parties went up at the last Scottish elections."
He added: “People vote for political parties for a variety of different reasons. Independence is supported by individuals on the left and right of politics and some of those people support Labour, Tories and Lib Dems. The only way to get a clear idea of the Scottish public's desires on independence is to ask them directly. This executive isn't asking because it doesn't think it will like the answer.”