As-it-happened: Scotland's future debate on Wednesday, 18 September, 2013

Key Points

  • First Minister Alex Salmond led a debate in Holyrood a year to the day voters in Scotland will take part in the independence referendum.
  • For the first time in the UK, the franchise will allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote on Thursday, 18 September, 2014.
  • The question which will appear on the voting paper will be a straight yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

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    Hello and welcome to our live video and text coverage of the Scotland's Future debate at the Scottish Parliament.


    To follow the debate on social media use #indyref

    Analysis Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

    "There are two very different approaches to this 'pre-birthday'. Alex Salmond will present this as a key date on the way to the independence referendum but their opponents say there are too many 'high days and holidays' and not enough talk of the substance."


    Currently, MSPs are quizzing Scottish Cabinet ministers. Alex Salmond is due to start the debate in the Holyrood chamber in a few minutes time.

    Politics Scotland programme 1435:

    Polling expert John Curtice says Mr Salmond needs these "high days and holidays" to push his case because it appears from opinion polls that there has been little change over the past year or so.


    @severincarrell Speculation that @AlexSalmond will unveil half a million signatures to @YesScotland #indyref declaration during #sp4 Sept 18 2014 debate


    Prof Curtice says those who say they "don't know" how they are going to vote in the referendum are not very high but he says that the "pickings" from the don't knows may be better for the Yes side. However, he says that the Yes campaign will have to convert some current no voters if they want to succeed in a year's time. The academic adds that the Yes campaign needs to convince people the economy will fare better under independence to change the polling numbers.


    First Minister Alex Salmond opens his speech by quoting Donald Dewar saying "devolution was about who we're are and how we carry ourselves". He says the debate over the coming year must be respectful as well as passionate.


    Mr Salmond calls for a positive vision for Scotland's future. He says "fear-mongering" will not work. The first minister recalls the dire predictions of the Tories before devolution in 1999.

    Generation 2014 Members of the BBC's Generation 2014 panel

    For the first time, 16 and 17-year-olds will participate in the Scottish independence referendum. See what a special BBC panel of youngsters are saying about their country's future.


    Mr Salmond says Chancellor George Osborne was scare-mongering about the prospect of a referendum putting off inward investment into Scotland. This has proved to be wrong, Mr Salmond says. Investment has gone up, he says.


    Decisions about Scotland are best made in Scotland, Mr Salmond says. Royal Mail privatisation and the "bedroom tax" were opposed by the majority of Scottish MPs but they are still imposed on Scotland, he says.


    Mr Salmond gives way to Gavin Brown of the Tories who says "empathy not enmity" has not lasted very long for the first minister.


    Mr Salmond says nobody seriously doubts Scotland could be an independent and successfully country economically. Even David Cameron admits it, he says.


    Scotland is a country rich in natural resources with a skilled and inventive people, Mr Salmond says. Independence helps us build on these advantages, he says. It allows Scotland to get the levers it needs to make itself more successful and equal, the first minister says. The right to decide taxation and welfare, he adds.


    Why ask Westminster to change course when we have the skills to decide things for ourselves, Mr Salmond says.


    Independence is about giving ourselves the power to make our country as good as it can be; it's about the right to decide, the ability to make choices, Mr Salmond says.

    Alex Salmond at an Edinburgh nursery Alex Salmond spoke about his visit to an Edinburgh nursery earlier in the day

    Mr Salmond says: "It is not an argument that is subject to statistical manipulation, it is not an argument for a day's headlines, it is not an argument born of fear. It is a common sense position based on experience."


    He finishes his speech by saying independence is the best route to becoming a more prosperous country but also a more just society.

    Johann Lamont Johann Lamont argues against independence

    Labour leader Johann Lamont causes a stir in the chamber by saying that if Scotland needs to take all its own decisions it must not just leave the UK, but also leave the EU and Nato.


    Johann Lamont says the SNP says it speaks for the Scottish people but its values are embodied in the UK. She says she is a socialist not a nationalist. She says the coming together of working people across the United Kingdom has shaped changes not nationalism.


    The great changes in our history for women, justice and the environment were made despite nationalism not because of it, she says.


    @garydunion Lamont again making it clear that she believes holding one's principles for 40 years is a weakness. Explains everything. #indyref


    You win change by winning the argument and proving we can create a better society, Johann Lamont says.


    She says the prize in 2014 - when Scotland decides against independence - is that Scotland can have a government that addresses the concerns of the country.


    @BradenDavy @Aberdeenshire schools #Indyref results are in - 75% No. It's a great way to engage young people and I'd like to see one happen in Aberdeen!


    We can get back to the rigour of government after 18 September 2014, Ms Lamont says. Instead of a government which has been on pause, obsessed with the referendum since 2011, promising everyone everything they want.


    Not nationalism but a coming together of people across the United Kingdom to make sure that Scotland is, not claims to be, a better place, Ms Lamont concludes.


    @redhotraggle Can't wait to look back in twenty years as I tell my kids, I remember where I was on that 'historic' day.....a year before the #indyref

    Ruth Davidson Ruth Davidson is the leader of the Scottish Tories

    This is an era of big politics, says Tory leader Ruth Davidson.


    Ruth Davidson does not question the motives of people who want to go-it-alone but she does not think that wanting to stay in the Union makes people less patriotic, she says.


    Mr Salmond's vision for independence is a "poor facsimile" of the Union we currently have, she says.

    When, what, where?
    • What? - The Scottish independence referendum will ask the straight yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"
    • When? - Thursday, 18 September, 2014
    • Where? - The poll takes place in Scotland only. Those who are eligible to vote at a Holyrood election will be able to answer the question at the ballot box.

    Margo Macdonald (independent MSP) comes in to dispute Ruth Davidson's claim that the UK armed forces are strong.


    Ruth Davidson continues saying Scottish businesses benefit from being part of a single UK market.


    Ruth Davidson interprets Alex Salmond's approach to independence as "everything would change, but nothing would change".


    @IainR86 Why do SNP MSPs feel the need to drown out JL or RD? The rest of the chamber let AS speak. #indyref


    RD says people in Scotland need more information on the proposition being put to them. Everyone has been told it will all be in the White Paper. "I truly hope so", she says.


    If you want to know more about the debate, look at our special report section, titled Scotland's Future.


    Ruth Davidson says she believes in devolution and supports the amendment to the debate.

    George Adam SNP MSP George Adam makes a passionate address to parliament

    SNP MSP George Adam - aged 44, he tells the chamber - says the No campaign offers nothing. He adds all politicians get into parliament to make a difference so he is surprised by the negativity of the No campaign.


    George Adam says a No campaigner in a debate caused laughter from his student audience when he said that independence would mean he would not get the BBC iplayer. These are laughable arguments, he said.


    Why are we not in charge of welfare? George Adam asks. I look forward to the day when we can have a proper debate about Scotland's future, he says.


    Labour MSP Neil Findlay says opposing independence is not anti-Scottish. He say the SNP's version of independence is fundamentally flawed. He says today's problems are common to all countries in the developed world. These problems, such as inequality, are not because of the union they are because of the "system we operate under". He is jeered by people shouting that is what we want to change.


    @jamlmitchell Worried for Scotland - it's 1 year to go till #indyref and they can't even break into the trending in Edinburgh


    Neil Findlay makes a point of order during his own speech calling for courtesy while he speaks. He is then rebuked by presiding officer Tricia Marwick for his brusque tone with other MSPs.


    Neil Findlay of Labour says Scotland's economy becoming more "competitive" is a "euphemism for lower pay".


    @Liam_Beattie Passionate speech by Findlay but when when he criticises the Tories, standing in solidarity with that party on #indyref must be awkward.


    In other politics, the Lib Dem conference - meeting in Glasgow - is currently hearing from its UK leader Nick Clegg. If you want to know what he is saying, look at the BBC news website's other live page.


    A race to the bottom in taxes, services and working wages is in no-one's interests, says Neil Findlay.


    @EddieBarnes23 Pretty flat in the chamber for Salmond's statement. Lots of empty seats in the public gallery


    SNP MSP Linda Fabiani asks why is Scotland not achieving its potential? Successive UK administrations have made the UK one of the most unbalanced and unequal countries in the world, she says.


    The union is not working for Scotland, Linda Fabiani says. She compares Scotland to Norway.


    On the subject of Norway. Have a look at a half-hour BBC web debate involving Willie Sullivan and Alex Massie. They looked into the pros and cons of the Nordic approach to tax and welfare.


    Labour call us [Scotland] a something for nothing society and they pretend to offer us a positive vision for the future, Linda Fabiani says.


    According to a Joseph Rowntree Foundation report, the powers to tackle child poverty reside with Westminster, Linda Fabiani says. She wants to change that and wishes Labour would stop creating a smokescreen on the issue.

    Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm focuses on the economy in his address

    Labour's Malcolm Chisholm says all the SNP are "existentialist nationalists" who will vote for independence no matter what. However, he says the real people in Scotland want to be convinced of the economic argument for Scotland going it alone. Yet the first minister hardly mention the economy, Mr Chisholm says.


    @CJTaylor72 I like big Malcolm Chisholm, but his reference to 'Existentialist Nationalism' makes me want to reach for the whisky. #indyref #sp4


    Mr Chisholm says the first minister is only interested in debating with David Cameron because he wants to frame the debate in terms of Scotland against the Tories. He says Mr Salmond should debate with Alistair Darling, who really knows the economic argument.


    Mr Chisholm is asked if he is an "existential unionist" but he moves on swiftly to other issues.


    Mr Chisholm says Alistair Darling is much-derided but when he was chancellor he rescued the Scottish banks. He says this would not have been possible if Scotland was independent.


    Enhanced devolution can do a great deal is Mr Chisholm's final message.


    The SNP's John Mason likens independence to moving out of his parents' house.


    John Mason says we don't know what the UK will be like in the future so we can't say exactly what Scotland will be like. We need to look at the bigger picture, he says. How would we carry ourselves with independence, he asks. How would Scotland change in the long run, he says.


    The UK is too small in this globalised world, Mr Mason says. Scotland needs to look to markets and partners such as the EU, he says. Scotland must become outward looking and international, he says.


    @richardjpf The q, I always think, is the promise of constitutional jam tomorrow going to get support of people who want change to vote no in #indyref?


    The UK has 300 years to get things right and it has failed. How much longer does it need, Mr Mason asks?


    He says the UK is too parochial and inward looking. Mr Mason says the UK is one of the most unequal in the world. He asks, will Britain become more equal if we stay in it? I see no signs of that, he says. How does Britain try to get out of its problems, cut benefits for the poorest, he concludes.

    Tavish Scott Former Scottish Lib Dem leader addresses Holyrood

    Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott says there is uncertainty over much about independence, including border arrangements. Will he need a passport to visit his daughter in Leeds?


    Pension and employment rights offer more uncertainty, Tavish Scott says. There is no way back to the UK after independence, he adds.


    Tavish Scott says the SNP constantly claims it does not have enough power but it does not do anything with the powers it has, he says. He says the nationalist government has had a tendency to centralise, taking power away from local government.


    Aileen McLeod of the SNP lists the successes of devolved health policies in Scotland. She says successive Scottish governments have raised the quality of health care in Scotland. She says she is confident the people of Scotland will vote for all decisions to be taken by the people who live here.


    @PeatWorrier Controversial Nationalist tweet: much of what Johann Lamont was arguing there in Holyrood's #indyref debate was actually Quite Interesting.


    New Tory MSP Cameron Buchanan makes his first speech and pays a brief tribute to David McLetchie, who died last month.


    Mr Buchanan says the Scottish financial services sector is extremely important to the UK economy. He adds that the UK is important to Scotland and Scotland is important to the UK. It is important we maintain that market, he says.


    The UK is not the only country where a constitutional debate is going on, Mr Buchanan says. He says these debates may colour the attitude of other European states to Scotland joining the EU after independence. He says this uncertainty cannot be good for Scotland.


    French-born SNP MSP Christian Allard welcomes Mr Buchanan to the "chambre" and commends him on his command of the French language.


    Mr Allard says, as a businessman, he does not recognise Mr Buchanan's fears over uncertainty of the referendum causing problems for Scottish business.


    Mr Allard says that he has three Scottish daughters who are interested in how we can do better for the women of Scotland.


    Mr Allard says independence is open to everybody who lives in Scotland and is not just for SNP supporters.


    Labour's Ken Macintosh says Scotland is holding itself with "relentless" debate on our constitutional future.


    @chesthigh Don't you just love #Indyref? Both sides fail to produce facts due to lack of crystal balls and emotions suppress logic as divisions grow


    Ken Macintosh's speech concentrates on education. He says Scottish education is "strong on equity but weak on diversity". He lists changes which could be made to education in Scotland and says his point is that "we do not need to wait for a vote on our children's future, we can do it now". He says we have seen stalling tactics not action from the SNP government.


    SNP MSP Christine Grahame compares Alistair Darling to "Chicken Licken" with his dire predictions that the sky will fall in. She says the story had a happy ending when the foretold disaster did not happen. Ms Grahame is a little confused when she is warned by the deputy presiding officer to avoid unparliamentary language. She assures him the story is quite wholesome.


    Ms Grahame goes all the way back to Harold Wilson's premiership to catalogue the UK's exchequer's financial disaster's over the period in which oil has been pouring from the North Sea. She compares Norway's oil fund with the revenues "squandered" by the UK.


    Rousing applause for Ms Grahame's speech from the nationalist benches.


    Independent MSP Margo Macdonald asks: "Why Scottish independence? Because we are worth it."

    BBC coverage
    Gordon Brewer, Jackie Bird and Glenn Campbell Gordon Brewer, Jackie Bird and Glenn Campbell will lead the BBC's year-to-go coverage

    The BBC will continue to cover the referendum's year-to-go day.

    • Reporting Scotland - Presenter Jackie Bird will host the programme from Edinburgh. There will be analysis from political editor Brian Taylor and business and economy editor Douglas Fraser, plus a round up of this debate. In addition, a group of young first time voters will be interviewed. The programme starts at 18:30 on BBC One Scotland. Remember, you can now watch it live on your mobile.
    • Special debate programme - Presenter Glenn Campbell will host a TV debate from Inverness featuring a 250-strong audience and a panel of politicians. The programme starts at 21:00 on BBC One Scotland.
    • Newsnight Scotland - Presenter Gordon Brewer will host a programme delving into the issues thrown up from the day. Former government adviser Alex Bell will feature - he has been making controversial remarks, which he penned in The Guardian. The show will also hear from Better Together's Blair McDougall and Yes Scotland's Blair Jenkins. The extended programme starts at about 23:00 on BBC Two Scotland.

    Margo Macdonald says Scotland and the south of England are very different and no longer fit together. She says independence will not make Scotland a world power "but does Scotland want to be a world power?" Ms Macdonald returns to the subject of defence, saying the UK should not boast of its force. It offers no advantage to Scotland. Aircraft carriers with no planes, she says.


    @euanmccolm "no you can't. you're an existentialist." margo refuses an intervention with style. #indyref #debate


    Ms Macdonald, a former director of Shelter, says replacing sold-off council houses was banned by London Tories and backed by Labour. We are living with that now in the shape of housing shortages, she says.

    Stephen Hamilton Aberdeen

    Ignore the scaremongering, it's been widely reported that Scotland can support itself, the rest of the issues will be resolved - they can't and won't stay unresolved in an independent Scotland. The ONLY question that fellow Scots need ask is this: Who do you want to make Scotland's decisions - Westminster or Holyrood? That's what it really boils down to.


    SNP MSP Nigel Don asks are we in good hands on energy policy when relying on Westminster? He thinks not and Scotland should be able to look after its own people. If we leave these decisions to others it does not exactly work, he says.


    Labour's Kezia Dugdale says the independence debate is turning people off. It is about attacking and rebutting instead of thinking and listening, she says. People want the facts and information and they are largely absent, she says.

    Jacob Benjamin Wemyss Bay

    Christine Grahame was humorous and effective. I thought the deputy presiding officer was rather overbearing in his censure of Christine!


    Rob Gibson of the SNP (Caithness, Sutherland and Ross) talks of depopulation in the Highlands and islands. He says Scotland is being held back by the economy and energy policies. These are UK policies, he says. Privatisation of the Royal Mail will hit the Highlands, he says. He also calls for land to be made available to Highland communities.


    Mr Gibson quotes a Hamish Henderson song Freedom Come-All-Ye - "Sae come aa ye at hame wi freedom/Never heed whit the houdies croak for Doom".

    Jackson Law Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw said he agreed with Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale

    Jackson Carlaw sums up the debate for the Tories. He says one-and-a-half years into this debate the public is no clearer about what independence will mean. He hopes the white paper in November will set out what people will be voting for.


    BBC Radio Scotland's Newsdrive programme is on air and looking at the issues surrounding the Scottish independence debate. Tune in on 92-95FM, 810MW, on digital and via the web.


    Mr Carlaw says there is an argument for independence which goes: There are no certainties, there is a risk but we believe in the people of Scotland and what they can achieve. He feels the Yes campaign are certain on things on which there is no certainty. On currency, on Europe, on Nato he says no-one is sure of the terms which Scotland would need to accept to get what it wants. Mr Carlaw's speech comes to an abrupt end when he takes issue with the presiding officer reminding him of the time constraint.


    Drew Smith for Labour says he believes in a strong Scottish Parliament and a strong UK. He says the SNP are not rising to their own challenge. It is a Scottish government who will say anything if it helps their case, he says, no matter if it damages Scotland. It is not a vision for Scotland so much as a case for themselves, he says. It is not Scotland versus England, it is a debate between Scots about the best thing for Scotland, Mr Smith says. The most progressive decisions are taken by the most progressive people no matter where they live, he says.


    Deputy First Minister brings the debate to a close. She starts by laying into Lib Dem Tavish Scott for his contribution to the debate. "It will pitch us into a pitch black room which we will never get out" she reports Tavish Scott as saying. Tell that to all the countries who have become independent in the past 50 years.

    David Bushaway Ifold ,West Sussex

    If Scotland goes ahead with the Yes vote and it goes wrong, there's no coming back into the fold.


    Nicola Sturgeon says all progressive campaigns face nae-sayers. She quotes from the campaign against votes for women. She says they were wrong and people against independence will be proved wrong. Ms Sturgeon quotes Johann Lamont complaining that Alex Salmond has been campaigning for independence for 40 years. She says the Labour leader does not believe in people sticking to their principles.

    Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon was highly critical of Tavish Scott's address

    Nicola Sturgeon says to Tavish Scott she will take a more prosperous Scotland over a seat on the UN security council "every day".


    @MadameEilidhMac Independence campaign the same as suffrage? Really? Reeeeeaaaaally??? #indyref


    No-one can explain to me why it is right to be able to protect our health services but stand by while welfare is cut for the more vulnerable in society, says Ms Sturgeon, asking why Scotland can decide health policy but not welfare.


    People a year from today will reject the fears and smears and come to the Yes side and vote for independence for our country says Ms Sturgeon to applause from her own side.


    Well, that's it for our video and text coverage of the Scotland's Future debate in the Scottish Parliament. Join us at 12 noon tomorrow for First Minister's Questions.

    BBC coverage

    And to re-cap, the BBC will continue to cover the referendum's year-to-go day.

    • Reporting Scotland - Presenter Jackie Bird will host the programme from Edinburgh. There will be analysis from political editor Brian Taylor and business and economy editor Douglas Fraser, plus a round up of this debate. In addition, a group of young first time voters will be interviewed. The programme starts at 18:30 on BBC One Scotland. Remember, you can now watch it live on your mobile.
    • Special debate programme - Presenter Glenn Campbell will host a TV debate from Inverness featuring a 250-strong audience and a panel of politicians. The programme starts at 21:00 on BBC One Scotland.
    • Newsnight Scotland - Presenter Gordon Brewer will host an hour-long programme delving into the issues thrown up from the day. Former government adviser Alex Bell will feature - he has been making controversial remarks, which he penned in The Guardian. The show will also hear from Better Together's Blair McDougall and Yes Scotland's Blair Jenkins. The extended programme starts at about 23:00 on BBC Two Scotland.

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