Regan independence plan met with grumbles at hustings

SNP leadership candidate Ash Regan’s independence plan was met with grumbles from the crowd at the party’s latest hustings.

Ms Regan faced off against Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf at the second event in Glenrothes, Fife, on Friday night, taking questions from members and making their pitch to replace Nicola Sturgeon in Bute House.

But Ms Regan’s plan for Scotland to win its independence did not go down well with all attendees.

The former community safety minister has laid out what she calls the “voter empowerment mechanism”, whereby a majority vote for independence parties in any UK or Holyrood election would give her government the mandate to commence negotiations with Westminster over secession.

Laying out her vision, Ms Regan told the crowd: “We’re in a position right now where Westminster is seeking to prevent the will of Scotland being expressed, so when it gets to that point… my idea is that we just run every election as an opportunity to test Scotland’s will, and if they’re ready for independence they’ll tell us.

Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf joking together after a hustings
The three leadership candidates faced off in the second hustings on Friday (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

“At that point, when Scotland expresses its will, Westminster will accept it, they’ll have to.”

After Ms Regan’s remarks, murmuring could be heard from the crowd, although it is not clear what was said to the candidate.

Replying, she said: “No, I think they will, because, well if you think about the other countries that have left the UK and have left the British Empire, every single time – and I’m talking about the peaceful ones now so don’t anyone get confused about that – every single time that has happened, the UK Government has said no at the beginning and eventually they have come round to saying yes.”

In the course of the debate, Ms Regan also proposed the creation of a pro-independence television channel to counter what she sees as anti-independence bias in the media and provide “a bit more balance”.

In 2014, the candidate said, the Yes campaign was operating in a “very challenging media environment”, as she claimed no newspapers backed independence in the run up to the referendum.

In fact, the Sunday Herald declared its support for Scotland leaving the UK ahead of the vote.

Under her leadership, Ms Regan said an “independence commission” would be formed that would lay the “infrastructure” for the country to become independent, which would likely include early work in the creation of a central bank – if allowed within the powers of Holyrood – among others.

To track the progress of the commission, Ms Regan suggested the creation of a “readiness thermometer” – a physical installation in a Scottish city that would show the work done by the commission.

Ms Regan said the thermometer would “build that confidence with the public”, adding: “When that gets up to 100%, everybody in Scotland knows that we’ve solved all these problems, everything is ready to go and we’ll have that confidence.”