SNP to push independence at poll
Independence for Scotland is set to be a "major issue" in the SNP's forthcoming bid for a second term in office, the First Minister has said.
Alex Salmond said he will build his party's Holyrood election strategy around the independence issue.
He told the Sunday Express the SNP would combine independence with the economy and stress that an independent Scotland could deal with the economic crisis without swingeing budget cuts.
He said: "It will be a major, perhaps dominating issue, in the election, not because it is about not giving the people a say in their own future, which is very important, but because we will be making the link to the economic crisis and saying if we have economic and financial powers then we can deal, not with all, but with the majority of this economic problem, which otherwise we have to deal with within a fixed budget."
Mr Salmond said he was "unlikely" to succeed in pushing his party's Referendum Bill through the Scottish Parliament next month, but said "the people will have their say" about the issue at the ballot box in May.
The First Minister also spoke of the fortune an independent Scotland could earn from renewable energy over the next 50 years, adding: "I don't want to see us again deploying a fantastic energy revolution in Scottish waters and finding out that somebody else gets all the benefits in revenue terms."
A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: "This shows the SNP is increasingly out of touch with the modern Scotland.
"As we come to terms with the effects of the recession, as jobs continue to be lost, as firms are struggling, the last thing we need is a SNP government obsessed with separating Scotland from the rest of the UK.
"The SNP promised so much and have delivered so little. They have run out of ideas and have nothing to say to the thousands of Scots struggling to find a job.
"Alex Salmond, himself a former banker, can't bring himself to see that Labour used the strength of the UK to protect Scotland from complete economic meltdown like Iceland or Ireland."