The leader of Labour in Scotland has again called on the SNP to hold a referendum on Scottish independence.

Similar comments by Wendy Alexander in May led to suggestions of a rift between her and Prime Minister Gordon Brown who did not overtly back her.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Any Questions? on Friday, Ms Alexander urged the SNP to "get on with it".

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said her party would be sticking to its 2010 referendum bill timetable.

Ms Alexander told the Radio 4 audience at James Watt College in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, that it was time for the people to decide now rather than wait another two years.
She said uncertainty on the issue was damaging and she had no doubt people in Scotland would vote to stay in the United Kingdom.

Ms Alexander said: "I think we should get on with it in Scotland, we have a first minister who claims he has a majority for independence but simply won't get round to putting the issue to the people, that causes uncertainty, I think that is damaging.

"I don't doubt that the vast majority of people in Scotland want to stay in the United Kingdom, but I also I don't fear their verdict.

"I don't think it is in Scotland's interest to have this continuing uncertainty - we are going to have a referendum, get on, let the people of Scotland speak because ultimately, whether you remain part of a sovereign state or not, it is a decision for the people not the politicians, and we shouldn't be leaving it until the very last few months."

'Pretty good'

But Ms Sturgeon, who was also sitting on the Any Questions? panel, said her party intended to fulfil its manifesto commitment and hold a referendum in 2010.

She said: "We said 2010 for two reasons, the first, we think it is right and people want to see how the SNP does in government, and the verdict so far seems to pretty good, thank you very much.

"The second reason, we think there should be a full debate on independence, the SNP knows where it stands on independence, we think Scotland should be a normal equal independent country, and we could probably do a bit more on the economic issues that we are facing just now."

Other panellists, Conservative Dominic Grieve and Liberal Democrat Ed Davey, reiterated the pro-Union stance of their parties.

Mr Grieve, MP, said that there was "plainly" not a majority in the Scottish Parliament for independence, but he added that if the voice from Edinburgh changed then "we should listen to that".

Mr Davey said: "The Lib Dems fought the election on the basis that there shouldn't be a referendum on Scottish independence and we argued that the election was a chance to vote on that issue.

"If people wanted it there were parties that people could have voted for."

However, MP Mr Davey said that there should be more devolved powers in Scotland.