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Lamont: I'd support independence if Westminster ever moved against Scottish Parliament

THE leader of the Labour Party in Scotland would support moves to take the country out of the UK if there were ever moves to shut down the Scottish Parliamment, she has claimed

With less than two weeks before Scotland goes to the polls, Johann Lamont told an audience in Glasgow her devotion to devolution stretched to supporting independence if Westminster moved against the Parliament at Holyrood.

Asked during a Referendum debate hosted by The Herald whether she feared the prospect of the UK Government ER closing the Parliament, Ms Lamont said such a move would create a constitutional crisis which would see her agree to taking Scotland out of the UK.

At a packed and lively debate in the city, Ms Lamont was joined by secretary of State for Scotland and LibDem MP Alistair Carmichael, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop and Patrick Harvie, co-convener Scottish Green Party

Over 300 people attended the event at the Oran Mor in Glasgow's west end, including the Consul General of Japan, Hajime Kitaoka and the Consul General of Italy, Carlo Perrotta. Mr Carmichael said the focus now for the Yes campaign was "on creating a mood".

Mr Carmichael said: "Instead of talking about the issues, they are talking about their campaign.

"They want to create the impression that something extraordinary is happening and that you just need to park your pesky questions, join the in crowd and vote for them. But this isn't a game, a fashion or a fad.

"It's not a moment. It's forever."

Refuting recent claims of "polling day carnage" and "nationalist mobs" from the pro-Union camp, Ms Hyslop described an "amazing, peaceful and consented independence referendum" which she said had "seized the nation in debate, discussion, discourse and dialogue about the country we seek and the nation we can build".

She added: "It is no longer, if it ever was, politics of party. It is now politics of people and their say, their stake and their story in the journey of Scotland - its society, community, economy and democracy."

Mr Harvie denied independence was a "selfish act", adding that had he accepted arguments over "breaking bonds of friendship" across the UK or having a negative impact on "those seeking a better society" south of the border he would vote No

But he added: "Scotland voting Yes could be just the catalyst the rest of the UK needs to begin a democratic renewal that's long overdue. An independent Scotland could demonstrate by our actions that austerity economics are not the only way, that a welfare state fit for the 21st century can be built, that a fairer more equal society is within our grasp, and we could tip the balance against the renewal of weapons of mass destruction."

Ms Lamont said with only two weeks to go, crucial questions on currency, Europe, pensions, and jobs had not been answered.

She added: "But the real question is: why? Why break from our friends and neighbours? Why face an uncertain future?

"It just doesn't make sense.

"Because this is not just about money and resources: it is about beliefs and values.Not underpinned by division or grievance, but inspired by hope."

Sponsored by leading technology firm NVT, audience members arrived from as far afield as Dingwall, Moidart, with one arriving from France, who travelled specifically for the event.

Herald readers were also given the opportunity to quiz the panel on issues from social justice and welfare, culture and the arts, the environment and the economy and currency.

Chaired by The Herald Group political editor Magnus Gardham, economic issues dominated questions from readers, including the future of the Barnett Formula in the event of a No vote, while the same question posed to Alistair Darling on job creating powers devolved if the poll rejects independence was also raised.

Readers also asked what an independent Scotland's policy on fracking might be, while one asked who a possible military threat could come from if the poll is Yes.

Hamish Fraser, director of NVT group, said: "This has been a lively debate, in a Referendum still hotly contested, We're delighted to be involved in the debate and supporting The Herald in maintaining a fair and well-balanced debate."

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