‘Confident’ Salmond ready to begin independence campaign

By Alex Stevenson

Scottish nationalists are ready to begin their "positive approach" to independence as early as this May, Alex Salmond has said.

The Scottish first minister said the SNP would launch its 'yes' campaign for Scottish independence shortly after the Scottish government concludes its consultation in May.

"It will be a broad-based campaign with civic Scotland, with the job creators of Scotland, with the unions of Scotland, a variety of people coming together to annunciate the case for independence," he told BBC1's Sunday Politics programme.

"And that positive approach is going to contrast very markedly with our opponents who are united only in their negativity."

Coalition ministers have criticised the Scottish government for delaying the referendum until the SNP's preferred autumn 2014 date.

Earlier this year the Scotland Office put forward proposals which could have seen the vote take place by mid-2013, but the SNP is thought to prefer putting the referendum off to build up more momentum for its proposals.

"In the public debate here in Scotland most people want to see it happen sooner rather than later," Scottish secretary Michael Moore told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

He said prime minister David Cameron's suggestion that significant further powers could be devolved to Scotland after the independence referendum was a recognition that the debate "is a live one".

"There isn't a blueprint there, there's a lot of ideas," Mr Moore added.

"We'll have the arguments and then hopefully we'll come to an agreement."

Westminster and Holyrood were set for a major constitutional clash in January, when the two governments disagreed on whether the Scottish parliament had the authority to hold a binding under its own terms.

Talks between the two governments are ongoing. The British government's consultation on its proposals for an independence referendum is set to end on March 9th.