FORMER SNP leader Gordon Wilson has told nationalists to “shut up” about holding a second referendum.
Wilson – who retired from the post in 1990 – has said that the campaign for a second referendum on independence annoys those who voted no, whilst falsely raising the hopes of those in favour.
His dramatic claim comes just one week after Nicola Sturgeon said that a further referendum is inevitable.
But Wilson has said that the party should instead focus on governing the country well, as well as a long-term campaign to improve the support for independence.
In more recent days – during the SNP party conference – Sturgeon has been careful to emphasise that a win for the SNP during the Scottish parliamentary elections in May will not guarantee another referendum.
But she has also claimed that a radical shift in public opinion or a material change in circumstances – such as a withdrawal from the EU – may lead to a second independence vote.
Speaking about the First Minister’s plan, Wilson said: “It’s about time we stopped talking about the referendum.
“All it does is annoy people who voted no, and it’s a false promise to those who voted yes.
“We should change tack completely and start promoting the benefits of independence and the disadvantages of the British union on a long-burn campaign because other than that you will not get the support rising.
Wilson’s comments reflect the findings of a recent poll which showed that only 36% of voters in Scotland want a further referendum in the next five years.
Wilson added: “Another reason [against a new referendum] is that for the next couple of years there could be confusion over which referendum and people might get referendum-sick – so far better, since you’re not going to hold one, to shut up about it.
He also questioned the view held by the SNP that a British exit from the EU would offer the independence campaign another shot.
He noted specifically that up to a third of senior SNP figures could favour a withdrawal from the EU.
He added: “It might well be that some are so hostile to Europe they would vote against independence in Europe not because they dislike independence, but because they don’t like Europe.
“If you then take the vote that votes for Europe, probably around 70% of that will be Tory and if it came to a choice for independence for Scotland, they would be just as likely to vote against it following party lines.
“I would say it’s the tank trap lying in the way of the party and Nicola…being pushed into a referendum prematurely.”