Independence White Paper Published
After months of speculation and hype, the SNP finally published its White Paper for an independent Scotland last week.
The document, billed as the SNP’s detailed vision for a separate Scotland, promised to answer all of the outstanding questions on what independence would mean.
However, what it delivered was more of the assertion and bluster which has characterised the SNP’s approach to this debate.
On currency, the document asserts as fact that Scotland will retain the pound, conveniently airbrushing out the serious doubts raised about this by the UK Government, Labour in opposition and the First Minister of Wales among others. The threat from Nicola Sturgeon that an independent Scotland would walk away from its responsibilities for a share of national debt if the SNP didn’t get its way was simply astonishing.
On the EU, we are told that Scotland would be welcomed in with open arms with identical terms to those we currently enjoy. This ‘fact’ is not questioned and again the inconvenient views of people like Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, who stated that if a new state wants to join the EU must apply to become a member are omitted. The much discussed Scottish Government legal advice that underpins the SNP’s assertion is, however, conspicuous by its absence from the White Paper.
Rather than a serious prospectus setting out details of independence, what has been published is a wish list of uncosted policies. A central example is the promise on childcare – an area of policy which is already entirely devolved and within the power of the SNP if it had the desire to take the issue forward. Alex Salmond has stated that “childcare revolution is impossible under devolution”. But as Johann Lamont put it in the chamber – children will be denied the chance of proper care until their parents vote the way the SNP want them to. The whole document reads like an extended SNP election manifesto only funded by the taxpayer.
Once the dust has settled following the bombast of the launch, voters will find that they don’t know that much more than they did before. However, now that the SNP’s vision has been published the scene is set for the continuing debate which will run up to the referendum on 18th September next year.
It has suited the SNP thus far to paint those opposed to independence as doing Scotland down. The document claims that there are still people who argue that Scotland does not have the strength or capacity to be independent. Those of us on the ‘Better Together ‘ side of the campaign do not claim that Scotland could not be an independent country – rather we argue that Scotland benefits from the best of both worlds, by having a strong Scottish Parliament and by being part of the partnership that is the United Kingdom.