SCOTLAND’s staunchest Unionists are trying to kibosh the Scottish Government’s plans for Citizens’ Assembly before they’ve even started.

Scotland in Union has warned Scots to stay away, saying they’ll be “misused” for independence.

Nicola Sturgeon announced the initiative back in May, saying the Government was keen to follow the example of Ireland where the assemblies were used to find consensus on reforming Ireland’s abortion laws.

The 100 members, and 20 back-ups, of the Scottish assemblies will meet over six weekends from late autumn to spring 2020, where they’ll be tasked with three broad questions: what kind of country are we seeking to build? How can we overcome the challenges Scotland faces, including Brexit? How can people be given the detail they need to make informed choices about Scotland’s future?

But the Tories and the LibDems have already said they don’t want to be involved, calling the assemblies a “stunt to kick-start the conversation about independence”.

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In her missive to supporters, Pamela Nash, the chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “Citizens’ Assemblies are growing in popularity throughout the world, and we have remained open minded about the value of this approach in Scotland; any space where the views of the public can be examined and taken into account is to be welcomed.

“However, given the statements from senior SNP politicians, and the SNP’s consistent record of going against previous public consultations, many have expressed concern that the Citizens’ Assembly could be misused.”

Scotland in Union said it was perturbed by SNP’s Joanna Cherry’s comment that a Citizens’ Assembly was “part of the process of preparing voters in Scotland for a second independence referendum”.

The Greens have welcomed the assemblies, while Labour has been more guarded, seeking assurances that it won’t be entirely focused on indyref2.

The National:

Green MSP Patrick Harvie (pictured above) said Scotland in Union was becoming an “increasingly bitter and cynical outfit”.

“There must be many voters who support the Union but who wish their political representatives would come up with something constructive.

“They should certainly have nothing to fear from doing so – the Citizens’ Assembly will expose all the options to scrutiny by people who’re not stuck in the party political bubble, and that’s the whole point.”

He added: “If the main pro-UK parties take the same position as Scotland in Union, perhaps it just means that Unionism has literally nothing left to offer.”

As SNP spokeswoman said: “Sadly, this is what we’ve come to expect from the self-styled Scotland in Union. They have no positive vision for Scotland, and are clearly rattled by the rising tide of support for independence.”

READ MORE: Citizens' Assembly: Former Labour MEP hits out at boycott

Yesterday, former Labour MEP David Martin, who will chair the assembly, urged Unionist politicians to drop their boycott and give the independent body a chance: “I understand the heat around the whole constitutional issue, but I have taken this on because I believe it is a genuine attempt to find out if there is consensus on some of the controversial issues facing Scotland.”