Six months to go: gamble or golden opportunity?

Posted on 18/03/2014 by



With just six months to go until Scotland’s date with destiny the politicians have been having their say once again. To varying degrees the Better Together parties – Conservative, Labour and the Lib Dems – all now support the granting of further powers to the Scottish Parliament, the ‘Devo Max’ option, but the SNP and Greens argue that Scotland can only fulfill it’s potential through independence.

Prime Minister David Cameron told the Conservative Party conference in Edinburgh last weekend: “A vote for No is not a vote for no change. We are committed to making devolution work better still – not because we want to give Alex Salmond a consolation prize if Scotland votes No, but because it’s the right thing to do. Giving the Scottish Parliament greater responsibility for raising more of the money it spends – that’s what Ruth (Davidson) believes, and I believe it too.”

The prime minister added: “Here’s the re-cap. Vote ‘Yes’ – that is total separation. Vote ‘No’ – that can mean further devolution, more power to the Scottish people and their parliament, but with the crucial insurance policy that comes with being part of the UK.”

He was supported today by Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, who said: “With just six months to go until voters make their choice in the Scottish independence referendum, voters need to remember that a referendum is not like an election. You cannot change your mind in five years’ time if you do not like the choice you make. Once the union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland has been unpicked there will be no going back.

“The UK has been the most successful social, political and economic union that the world has ever seen. The decision to end it is not one that any sensible person would want to take lightly.

“It’s important to realise that a vote for independence is a gamble – there are simply too many unanswered questions, particularly regarding currency, pensions and the economy. Why would anyone want to leave a successful union – which has helped Scotland prosper for generations – for such an uncertain future?

“That’s why, as a Scot, I appeal to all voters to get the facts and consider what is best for our future. And we also need to remember that it’s not just our future which is at stake – what kind of Scotland do we want our children and grandchildren to inherit?”

Scottish Labour chose to launch their devolution commission findings today. Introducing the report, Leader Johann Lamont said: “I set up Scottish Labour’s devolution commission because it was clear that while the majority of Scots want to stay part of the United Kingdom, they want a stronger Scottish Parliament.

“With colleagues from Holyrood, Westminster, the European Parliament, local government, the trade unions and party members, I wanted to have a debate about where power should best lie to serve the people of Scotland, so I am pleased to publish our plans to strengthen devolution today before putting them to our party conference on Friday.

“The commission has worked hard to ensure that our proposals are consistent with Scotland remaining strong in the United Kingdom but also give us the flexibility to do things differently where we want to.

“We have engaged widely with business, trade unions, academics and constitutional experts and believe this is the most comprehensive package of devolution while also allowing Scotland the security and certainty of the United Kingdom.

“I believe it will make our parliament more accountable and more progressive. We also want to see power devolved from Holyrood down to local government and our communities.

“Labour should be proud of our record on devolution. It was a Labour Government that brought about the Scottish Parliament 15 years ago and we initiated the Calman process which resulted in greater tax and borrowing powers for Holyrood through the Scotland Act.

“With six months to go until Scotland decides on its future, our devolution proposals set out part of our positive alternative to the narrow politics of nationalism. Labour has always been the party of change, and we will change Scotland for the better.”

However ‘Yes Scotland’ supporters argue that the changes being proposed by the Unionist parties do not go far enough and will not solve Scotland’s problems.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a ‘No’ vote would mean handing control “straight back to Westminster” and she gave six reasons why Scotland should vote for independence: more jobs, control of taxes, protecting the NHS, not ending up with Conservative governments we don’t vote for, the prospect of retiring later than south of the Border and the creation of an oil fund to make the most of Scotland’s North Sea resources.

“Today I am setting out six reasons for Yes with six months to go,” Ms Sturgeon said. “The referendum is a choice between taking Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands or leaving our future in the hands of an out-of-touch Westminster establishment.

“The No campaign call themselves Project Fear but we have seen a move to Project Threat in recent days with increasingly over-the-top comments. So it’s no wonder that support for Yes continues to advance in the polls while the No campaign has stalled, with a swing of only around 5 per cent now needed to secure a Yes vote.”

Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie also believes that a ‘yes’ vote could transform Scotland. He said: “I urge those who are as yet undecided to seize the opportunity to challenge both sides in this debate, and consider whether a Yes or a No gives the best chance of transforming Scotland into the more equal, more sustainable and more democratic society we’re capable of becoming.

“Green Yes campaigners are reaching out to communities across Scotland. For us a Yes vote gives the best chance of achieving the kind of Scotland where wealth is more fairly shared, where nuclear weapons have no place and where communities have real power.”