‘Scotland’s future is now in Scotland’s hands’

Posted on 26/11/2013 by


ScParlIndependence blueprint launched

First Minister Alex Salmond today launched the “most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published ”: Scotland’s Future – Your Guide to an Independent Scotland.

‪‬The guide, which runs to 670 pages and 170,000 words, outlines the shape of the thriving Scotland that will emerge in the event of a vote for independence in next year’s referendum. It also offers a transformational vision of work and social policy, with a revolution in childcare at its heart.

The guide sets out the case for independence and outlines the journey, following a yes vote on September 18 next year, that Scotland will make to independence day on March 24, 2016.

The guide is structured in five parts:

• An overview of the case for independence, including why Scotland needs independence and what a newly independent Scotland will look like.

• A description of the strengths of Scotland’s national finances, a projection of Scotland’s opening financial position at the point of independence and the current Scottish Government’s priorities for the first term of a Scottish Parliament if elected in the May 2016 elections.

• A detailed analysis of the changes needed across Scotland, the opportunities that independence provides for any future Scottish government to make those changes, and the particular priorities for action identified by this government.

• The timescale and process for Scotland to become an independent country following a yes vote; the transition that will take place and the negotiations and agreements that will be required. It also sets out the opportunities for a modern democracy with a written constitution and describes how equality and human rights will be protected and promoted.

• The answers to 650 detailed questions about the opportunities and practicalities of independence.

The guide, published today, includes details of the savings that can be made with independence, including half a billion pounds on defence spending and savings from no longer contributing to the funding of the Westminster Parliament.

It also outlines the Scottish Government’s policies on issues such as currency, international representation – including independent and equal membership of the European Union – citizenship, defence and security, the harnessing of Scotland’s natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations and the fiscal levers necessary to grow the Scottish economy.

The guide also details a range of polices that would be introduced if the current Scottish Government is elected to be the government of an independent Scotland, including:‬

• A transformation in childcare, helping more women into work and providing up to 35,000 jobs.
• A safe, triple-locked pension that meets Scotland’s needs and puts more money in the pockets of our pensioners.
• A guaranteed minimum wage that rises alongside the cost of living to make sure the lowest paid get a fair wage for a fair days work.
• Basic rate tax allowances and tax credits that will also rise at least in line with inflation.
• A change to the way ‘green levies’ are paid for – saving families around £70 a year on their energy bills.
• A fairer welfare system, including a halt to the rollout of Universal Credit and the abolition of the ‘Bedroom Tax’. ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
• A productivity and competitive boost to secure the position of Scottish business.

The First Minister said:

“This is the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published, not just for Scotland but for any prospective independent nation.‬‬‬
“But more than that, it is a mission statement and a prospectus for the kind of country we should be and which this Government believes we can be.

“Our vision is of an independent Scotland regaining its place as an equal member of the family of nations – however, we do not seek independence as an end in itself, but rather as a means to changing Scotland for the better.

“We know we have the people, the skills and resources to make Scotland a more successful country. What we need now are the economic tools and powers to build a more competitive, dynamic economy and create more jobs.

“This guide contains policies which offer nothing less than a revolution in employment and social policy for Scotland, with a transformational change in childcare at the heart of those plans. Our proposals will make it far easier for parents to balance work and family life and will allow many more people, especially women, to move into the workforce, fostering economic growth and helping to boost revenues – which will in itself help pay for the policy.

“With these policies, we can begin the job of undoing the damage caused by the vast social disparities which have seen the UK become one of the most unequal societies in the developed world.

“And we believe it is only with the powers of Independence – by completing the powers of our national Parliament – that we will gain the tools we need to create a more prosperous and fairer society.”

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“We want as many people as possible across Scotland to read the guide and make up their own minds about Scotland’s future. This is an incredibly thorough and detailed guide, which includes 650 questions about an independent Scotland – and delivers on the answers.

“When it comes to social equality, health, quality of life and economic performance, Scotland has too often lagged behind the performance of our near neighbours across Northern Europe – many of them countries of similar size to Scotland.

“We know that Scotland has huge natural resources and enormous talent among our communities and our workforce – but only independence will give us the ability to make the most of our potential. This is an unprecedented chance to transform our country for the better. Our employment and social policy proposals contained in this guide, including the revolution in childcare, show what is possible.

“It illustrates how the powers of independence can be used to benefit individuals, families, communities and the nation as a whole – and it has economic growth, jobs and fairness at its heart. This is the only detailed plan for Scotland’s future, and today’s publication marks a decisive shift in the debate on what that future should be.”

Opponents of independence were, not unsurprisingly, unimpressed. Better Together leader Alistair Darling MP said:

“The white paper is a work of fiction. It is thick with false promises and
meaningless assertions. Instead of a credible and costed plan, we have a
wish-list of political promises without any answers on how Alex Salmond would
pay for them.”

And Scotland Office minister Alistair Carmichael has warned that an independent Scotland would face many uncertainties.

In a statement, the Scottish Office said:

‘The Scottish Government claim that a currency union between Scotland and the rest of the UK would be in the interests of both. This is wrong.

A currency union may not be in the interests of either Scotland or the rest of the UK. This has been shown by both the UK Government’s analysis and independent experts.

The Chancellor and the Chief Secretary, the Shadow Chancellor and former Chancellors, have all said that it is highly unlikely that a currency union could be agreed or be made to work.

Here is a reminder of the problems:

A currency union is not in Scotland’s or the UK’s interests because:

  • Currency unions don’t work without close political and fiscal integration, whereas independence is about disintegration: the lesson of the euro area crisis is clear – currency unions are very difficult without fiscal or political union, and can expose all their members to significant risks. Euro area countries are moving towards closer political and fiscal union to address these challenges.
  • The Scottish Government are proposing the exact opposite – currency union without fiscal or political union.  And independence would inevitably mean the continuing UK and Scotland moving further apart.  This is hardly a credible basis for a monetary union Divergence of our economies: the economies of an independent Scotland and the UK would be very different, and would diverge over time. This is particularly because Scotland would have a significant dependence on North Sea oil.  Changes in the oil price would therefore affect the countries differently and a one-size fits all monetary policy would not suit both.

A currency union is not in an independent Scotland’s interests because:

  • Constraints on an independent Scotland’s economic policies: even if it could be agreed, a formal currency union would severely limit an independent Scotland’s economic freedom – to ensure that risks to the rest of the UK were managed an independent Scotland would not be able to set its own interest rates and would have to accept the rest of the UK having oversight of its tax and spending plans as is increasingly the case in the euro area.
  • Economic resilience and credibility: if financial markets sensed that the Bank of England’s monetary policy did not suit Scottish circumstances they might doubt both countries’ commitment to the currency union.  Financial market speculation could lead to capital flight and higher interest rates. Ultimately, if markets weren’t calmed, Scotland might have to adopt its own currency in a time of crisis – as happened when the UK left the ERM and as happened 33 days after the Czech Republic and Slovakia separated from one another.

A currency union is not in the UK’s interests because:

  • Giving up economic sovereignty: Joining a currency union with another state would involve the UK giving up some of its sovereignty in monetary and fiscal policy. Why would it agree to this?
  • Risk of bailout: The continuing UK would comprise around 90 per cent of total GDP in a sterling currency union, with Scotland as 10 per cent.  The continuing UK would therefore bear much more risk of having to bail out an independent Scotland if it got into fiscal difficulties.
  • Why take the risk? Negotiating a sterling currency union would be far more important for an independent Scotland than for the continuing UK. The rest of the UK accounts for 70% of Scotland’s total trade, whereas Scotland accounts for 10% of the UK’s trade.  As Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales, has asked, what gain is there to the rest of the UK from having an independent country share its currency, other than uncertainly.  It would mean difficult decisions having to be taken across two different governments which is a recipe for instability.

No one should vote for an independent Scotland on the basis that they will get to keep the pound.  Independence means leaving the UK’s monetary union and leaving the pound. The only way for Scotland to keep the pound as it is now is to stay in the UK.’

The politicians have had – and will continue to have – their say all the way to referendum voting day on 18 September next year. But ultimately, Scotland’s future is down to YOU.

A copy of ‘Scotland’s Future – Your Guide to an Independent Scotland’ is attached below; you have 295 days, so happy reading!