SNP vows to fight for Scottish independence
PERTH, United Kingdom: Scotland’s ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) on Friday crowned a new leader who vowed to continue the fight for independence, despite defeat in September’s referendum.
First Minister Alex Salmond quit after the September ballot, in which 55 percent of voters said “No” to leaving the United Kingdom, and has now been replaced by his deputy Nicola Sturgeon.
Salmond told party members on Friday that Scotland will eventually win independence from London.
“Scotland will become an independent nation,” he said at the SNP conference in Perth. “Out of defeat will come future success.”
Delegates rubber-stamped Sturgeon’s election as SNP leader at the party’s annual conference in Perth — she was the only candidate — paving the way for her appointment as Scotland’s first female first minister next week.
“I think we will become an independent country,” the 44-year-old former lawyer told Sky News after her appointment.
“I think that’s the direction of travel but it will only happen when the people of Scotland choose it,” she said.
Asked if that would be under her leadership, she replied: “I certainly hope so.”
The SNP is increasingly being seen as a possible “kingmaker” after Britain’s general election in May if neither of the two main parties, the Conservatives or Labour, win a majority.
Sturgeon said the SNP would not “prop up” a Conservative government but could support a Labour government “if they have to depend on SNP votes” without forming a formal coalition.
Salmond led the SNP for nearly 20 years and spent seven as first minister, transforming the nationalist party from a marginal organization to a major political force.