Sir Sean Connery: Let voters decide on independence

SIR Sean Connery used the launch of Homecoming 2009 yesterday to urge unionists not to block the Scottish Government's plans for a referendum.

The James Bond star and prominent SNP supporter insisted that allowing the people to decide the country's constitutional future was both the "democratic way" and "the Scottish way".

Sir Sean made the plea as Scotland celebrated the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns – who, he said, had a "passionate belief in Scotland".

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More than 300 events are planned for this year, starting on Burns' Night and finishing on St Andrew's Day, in November.

The SNP administration has put forward proposals for an independence referendum in 2010. The Nationalists plan to introduce a referendum bill in January of that year, in the expectation that the vote will take place in the autumn.

Sir Sean said: "Next year, the SNP Scottish Government plan to bring forward a referendum to give the people the opportunity to choose independence and equality for Scotland.

"That is the democratic way to decide the nation's future – and the democratic way is the Scottish way."

He added: "The future of Scotland is for the people to choose – not politicians in London or anywhere else.

"I hope MSPs in every party will vote for it, regardless of their views. Whether they are for or against independence all MSPs should agree the decision is for the people."

The star also claimed that the Scottish Parliament needed more financial powers, stating: "The more powers a country has the better able it is to make the most of opportunities to act quickly to deal with the problems.

"That's why Scotland's Parliament needs real financial teeth."

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Alex Salmond also insisted yesterday he would drive ahead with his plans for a referendum, despite the economic crisis.

The First Minister used Barack Obama's victory in the American election to claim that people could vote for change in turbulent times.

"I think the case for optimism sometimes emerges even stronger in the middle of a crisis," he said, adding: "I don't underrate for a second the seriousness of the problems, but … we need to concentrate on how to get out of it."

But a Labour spokesman described the attitude of both Mr Salmond and Sir Sean as "ridiculous".

He said: "At a time like this, everyone's focus must be on helping the people through these difficult times in the economy, not separating Scotland from the rest of UK."

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