THE independence campaign is “well under way”, depute SNP leader Keith Brown told members at the party’s conference.

Brown opened the 87th annual SNP conference with a rallying cry to members to replicate the success of the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections in next year's local council vote.

Delegates at the virtual conference were urged to reach out to undecided voters in preparation for a second referendum.

And Brown said that Tories in Westminster know they can’t “stand in the way of the democratic will of Scotland”.

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Speaking to delegates, Brown encouraged party activists to help bring a successful result in the 2022 local council elections.

He said: “I know, once again, we can count on our army of activists to get out the SNP vote to deliver another thumping election result - and another big step on our journey to independence.

“Friends, I can tell you this: That independence campaign is well underway.

“And I promise you we will not let up until we win that referendum.”

The Scottish Government’s announcement in September, that they are resuming “crucial work” on an “updated and detailed” prospectus for independence, was hailed as “hugely significant” by Brown.

The National:

Brown opened the virtual conference on Friday afternoon

He added: “That new government work will be essential to help voters make their fully informed choice and we await the delivery of that new prospectus with eager anticipation.

“Meanwhile, our combined task is clear. We must bring to life our vision of a better, fairer, more sustainable Scotland.”

He added that renewable energy and a just transition are crucial to the future of Scotland, and cannot be left in the hands of Westminster.

Brown said: "We need independence to invest in our bountiful renewable energy resources, which are the envy of Europe.

"The future of our planet depends on it – and it’s too important to be left to the Tories."

Brown added that Westminster control has led to the North east being overlooked for carbon capture projects and "pork barrel politics" where money that should go to Scotland is "diverted to shore up Tory votes in England". 

Combining the result of the Holyrood election in May with a win at the local elections will allow the SNP to “pile the pressure on the UK Government over our legitimate demand for a referendum”, Brown added.

He said: “The Johnsons and the Goves of Westminster know they can’t stand in the way of the democratic will of Scotland. “And what we know is that Boris Johnson always bows to pressure - just look at the scandalous Owen Paterson affair.

“The Prime Minister’s actions speak far louder than words.

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“When the Prime Minister had to choose between protecting the integrity of elected office or protecting his friend, he chose to change the rules to protect a colleague.

“And when the pressure came on, he caved in and U-turned again.”

Brown also took a pop at Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross for forgetting to declare almost £30,000 in earnings after claiming the SNP is out of touch with working class communities in Scotland.

Noting that the amount of undeclared cash is more than what the average Scot earns in an entire year, Brown said: “So tell us again Mr Ross, who is out of touch?

“Friends, the simple truth is that the Tories don’t care about Scotland.
The National:

Brown took a pop at Douglas Ross's undeclared earnings from his third job as a referee

“They don’t care about working class people. They don’t care about those whose Universal Credit they’ve cut by £20 a week.

“They don’t care about those who lost their jobs when they prematurely ended furlough; “They don’t care about those left battling an inhumane immigration system that prevents people taking jobs in businesses screaming out for workers because of the Tory Brexit obsession.

“Scotland needs to escape all this.”

Rounding off his speech, Brown called on members to “be the best we can be” to win over the people of Scotland and undecided voters by being “tolerant, kind, inclusive, open, honest and engaged”.

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He said: “Friends, we stand on the shoulders of giants.

“It falls to us to build on the legacy of those who campaigned before us, whose efforts in building support for independence has already taken us this far.

“We must engage with the No voters of today to deliver the Yes votes of tomorrow.

“Believe me friends, there is an undeniable renewal of national pride blowing through Scotland “The prize is there for the winning – it is up to us to reach out and grasp it.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to address the conference on Monday, with deputy first minister John Swinney giving a speech on Saturday, and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford on Sunday.