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03/08/2015
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Scottish independence referendum: Five questions in five days

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5 live's James Shaw reports from across Scotland on the key issues in the referendum debate.

At the end of this month, the Scottish Government will launch its white paper on independence. It promises to be the fullest statement yet of what the SNP think independence should look like and how they plan to get there. In the week before its launch I’ll take a detailed look at some of the key policy areas likely to be covered in the white paper.

Call me a political geek if you like, I don’t mind. But I have to admit I’m really looking forward to a road trip lasting five days in which we will ask and try to answer five key questions about Scottish independence.

Five questions, five days, 5 live.

Partly because it will take me all over the country, from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, Faslane to Coldstream, and finally St Andrews, but mostly because we’ll be feeling our way towards answers which are really important not just for Scotland but for the whole of the United Kingdom and anyone who cares about the future of this little collection of islands off the north coast of Europe where we all live.

Take for example the currency question. The SNP, who are campaigning for independence, think that if Scotland does split from the rest of the UK, it should keep the pound. They think that’s the best way to promote economic stability and protect existing business relations. It is a central part of their offer to voters, but it also matters enormously to people living south of the border. Could one country with its own tax and spending priorities have a say in the management of another country’s currency, when that second country might be pursuing quite different policies?

Then there’s defence. The SNP want to get rid of Trident, Britain’s fleet of nuclear-armed submarines based at Faslane. If that happened, where would they go? On the other hand, one of this month’s big news stories was a decision to end shipbuilding in Portsmouth and focus everything on the Clyde. Should that decision be reversed if Scotland voted yes?

These are big and really difficult questions, but the kind of questions we should all be thinking about as the possibility of Scottish independence gets closer.

That’s the thing about the independence debate, people in the rest of the UK might be inclined to think it doesn’t matter to them. The fact that people in Scotland get to make a choice, whereas they don’t, is likely to increase that lack of interest. But it really does matter. Whether you’re in favour or not, it would make a difference to your life.

So that’s why I’m feeling a little bit fired up. This week is a chance to explain what this story is about and why we should all be sitting up and taking notice.

So our five questions are:

Would an independent Scotland keep the pound?

What would independence mean for Scotland’s prosperity?

How would an independent Scotland defend itself?

What would independence mean for Scotland’s relationship with Europe?

What would independence mean for Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK?

Through the week as I travel from coast to coast and from north to south, I’ll be gathering ordinary people’s views on these five questions, and we’ll also be talking to a range of experts in each of the topic areas, who we’re hoping will be able to deliver clear and impartial analysis.

At the end we’ll pull it all together for a feature-length programme on Sunday. Of course we won’t be delivering five clear-cut answers at the end of it all, but if we can help people arrive at their own answers, for me that will be job done.

James Shaw will be reporting from across Scotland for 5 live Drive from Monday 18 to Friday 22 November.

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  • Comment number 8. Posted by JamboBillCo

    on 20 Nov 2013 21:22

    "I am not sure on what basis you and your Aberdeen professor are making the ascertain about Scotland's share of the continental shelf...."

    What Professor Alex Kemp does not know about the North Sea oil industry could be written on the back of a postage stamp. He has over 40 years experience in the field and is the renowned expert in these islands.

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  • Comment number 7. Posted by Eastcoteprogressives

    on 20 Nov 2013 20:27

    "Scottish economy would be very strong due to Scotland’s share of the UK Continental Shelf which would be 96% of current UK oil production and 52% of current gas production"

    You may be right, but that is far from certain and I am not sure on what basis you and your Aberdeen professor are making the ascertain about Scotland's share of the continental shelf ... either way, it would certainly be taken to the International Court of Justice and you may get a result by 2024 if you are lucky. Enjoy your 60% tax rate until then!

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  • Comment number 6. Posted by JamboBillCo

    on 20 Nov 2013 17:07

    Either take the subject of Scottish Independence seriously and carry out some in-depth analysis of the topics you have chosen to highlight this week or ignore it altogether and concentrate on subjects requiring little in the way of research, like for instance - Fast Disappearing Red Telephone Boxes of Wales.

    Thankfully the people who live in Scotland and who have a vote next year are not wholly dependent on the BBC for their 'facts' on the subject.

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  • Comment number 5. Posted by John

    on 20 Nov 2013 14:28

    All this talk of independence over looks a couple of fundemental things.
    There has never been a Great England, Great Scotland, Great Ireland or Great Wales but there is a Great Britain.
    Not so great anymore I admit but it will be worse broken up.

    When we got together and stopped trying to kill one another we did very well so think hard before moving on.

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  • Comment number 4. Posted by zelda

    on 19 Nov 2013 17:18

    Deck chairs and popcorn at the ready.. Tin hats on...... it's the Annual Scots V English debate.

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by Edward2010

    on 18 Nov 2013 17:41

    Dr Angus Armstrong not entirely correct stating that a larger England (presume population size) would dictate policy for a shared currency. I think you will find that its down to wealth. Any Bank of England would have to appreciate the strength of the pound, without the Oil revenues and Whisky revenues

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by tenswen_dnaltocs

    on 18 Nov 2013 17:03

    Would an independent Scotland keep the pound?...Yes

    What would independence mean for Scotland’s prosperity?...Check the McRone report which was kept secret until recently.

    How would an independent Scotland defend itself?...Very well if history can be used to judge.

    What would independence mean for Scotland’s relationship with Europe?.. We will continue as full members of the EU

    What would independence mean for Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK?....We will be good neighbours instead of surly lodgers as we are now.

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by Edward2010

    on 18 Nov 2013 16:49

    Oh dear, just ignorance regarding currency union being provided by BBC Five Live. There is already in existence a currency union between the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands with the Bank of England. Something that is usually ignored by media outlets like the BBC. I actually think that the idea of sharing the pound with England, is a kindly gesture by the Scots. Remember the pound is not specific to England. The other point largely ignored by the BBC (what a surprise) is that the Scottish economy would be very strong due to Scotland’s share of the UK Continental Shelf which would be 96% of current UK oil production and 52% of current gas production (Professor Alex Kemp of Aberdeen University). Layer into that the Billions of pounds worth of Whisky exports. This loss for the Westminster treasury would have a bad effect on the English balance of trade figures and would be subjected to immense pressure on the pound, if its not linked to the Scottish economy

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