SNP plans to launch a summer initiative for independence will go ahead as outlined in the party’s manifesto, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland, Sturgeon said the Holyrood election showed her party’s manifesto was backed by nearly half of Scottish voters.
She said: “The position I put forward in the SNP manifesto got the support of almost 50% of the population.”
Sturgeon added: “I have got to persuade other people of the strength of my case, and in saying that, I am prepared to do that patiently, with a lot of humility and listening to people.”
The SNP manifesto said the party would “undertake new work, starting this summer, with the aim of persuading a clear majority of people in Scotland that independence is the best future for our country”.
It was announced by the SNP in April that this summer drive would be led by the party’s deputy leader Stewart Hosie MP.
On a second independence referendum, Sturgeon said the Scottish Conservatives went into the Holyrood election campaign “with an unequivocal position of saying no to another independence referendum and they got just over 20% of the vote”.
The SNP leader added: “It’s a ridiculous notion to say that because the Conservatives managed to get scarcely over 20% of the vote that somehow the case for independence has taken a step back – the contrary is the case.
“There is an independence-supporting majority in the Scottish Parliament if you take the SNP and the Greens.
“My manifesto said in certain circumstances the Scottish Parliament should have the right to propose another referendum.”
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said on Friday the SNP had “no mandate” for a second referendum.
Also speaking on Sunday Politics Scotland, the party’s deputy leader Jackson Carlaw reiterated the point, saying the question of independence should be put aside “for this parliament”.
Carlaw said: “It wasn’t in their manifesto, I don’t think they have the mandate, and I think Scotland has now made it very clear that it wants to see the government get on with governing the country, and to put the independence issue aside for this parliament.
“I think if the SNP has got any sense it will recognise that if it pushes on now and persists with trying to put Scotland through another referendum, it is actually going to come to grief.”
Carlaw added that he “wouldn’t be unhappy” if the UK government stepped in to try and prevent a second independence referendum.
Former Labour MP and now MSP Anas Sarwar said his party had “tried to move past the independence referendum” in its Holyrood campaign.
Speaking on the same programme, Sarwar admitted Scottish Labour had tried to move on from the constitutional question “perhaps too early”.
Sarwar said: “Up against the binary situation where we have unionism versus nationalism, that is a real difficult question for the Labour Party. We are not comfortable nationalists and we are not comfortable unionists.
“In that binary election process the Labour Party has got a problem.”
“We tried, and perhaps too early, to move past the referendum, and to actually talk about how we use the powers in our country to transform our country, and I don’t think the electorate was there yet.”
However, he rejected any possibility of a change in the party’s leadership, saying Scottish voters were simply not “willing to listen to us”.
Sarwar said Kezia Dugdale was “a confident, charismatic, able leader” and that she needed “the time to take this party forward”.
He added: “We have tried changing personalities before and that has not worked.”
Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens has previously cautioned against holding a second referendum too soon, despite his party’s support for independence.
Lib Dem party leader Willie Rennie has called on the SNP to rule out a second independence referendum.