Scottish independence: Referendum White Paper unveiled

 

First Minister Alex Salmond: "Scotland's future is in Scotland's hands."

Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has launched his government's independence blueprint, calling it a "mission statement" for the future.

The 670-page White Paper promised a "revolution" in social policy, with childcare at its heart.

The launch came ahead of next September's independence referendum.

Alistair Darling, leader of the campaign to keep the Union, branded the document a "work of fiction, full of meaningless assertions".

On 18 September, Scots voters will be asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Launching the paper - titled Scotland's Future: Your guide to an independent Scotland - in Glasgow, Mr Salmond said: "This is the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published, not just for Scotland but for any prospective independent nation.‬‬‬

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Scotland's first minister and his deputy behaved today less like excited midwives and more like low-key, well-briefed company executives launching a corporate re-branding exercise ”

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"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."

As well as making the case for independence, the White Paper also set out a series of policy pledges which the SNP said it would pursue if elected as the government of an independent Scotland.

These included:

  • Thirty hours of childcare per week in term time for all three and four-year-olds, as well as vulnerable two-year-olds.
  • Trident nuclear weapons, currently based on the Clyde, removed within the first parliament.
  • Housing benefit reforms, described by critics as the "bedroom tax", to be abolished, and a halt to the rollout of Universal Credit.
  • It would be in Scotland's interest to keep the pound, while the Bank of England would continue as "lender of last resort".
  • BBC Scotland replaced at the start of 2017 with a new Scottish broadcasting service, continuing a formal relationship with the rest of the BBC.
  • Basic rate tax allowances and tax credits to rise at least in line with inflation.
  • A safe, "triple-locked" pension system.
  • Minimum wage to "rise alongside the cost of living".

The Scottish government said Scotland's finances were healthier than those of the UK, providing a strong foundation to put the focus of the referendum campaign on Scotland's future.

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Mr Salmond said the list of policies would help address what he described as the "damage caused by the vast social disparities which have seen the UK become one of the most unequal societies in the developed world".

"We know we have the people, the skills and resources to make Scotland a more successful country," he added.

"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."

White Paper: Main policy pledges

  • Thirty hours of childcare per week in term time for all three and four-year-olds, as well as vulnerable two-year-olds.
  • Trident nuclear weapons, currently based on the Clyde, removed within the first parliament.
  • Housing benefit reforms, described by critics as the "bedroom tax" to be abolished in first year of an independent Scottish parliament.
  • Basic rate tax allowances and tax credits to rise at least in line with inflation.
  • Review UK plan for increasing state pension age to 67.
  • Minimum wage to rise at least in line with inflation.
  • Basic rate tax allowances and tax credits to rise at least in line with inflation.
  • BBC Scotland replaced at the start of 2017 with a new Scottish broadcasting service, continuing a formal relationship with the rest of the BBC.
  • Single tier state pension of £160 per week from April 2016.
  • Royal Mail returned to public ownership.
  • Pound to be retained under "currency union".
  • New employment measures to help more women into work.
  • Scottish citizens entitled to Scottish passport at the same cost as UK one.
  • Scottish Defence Force to enlist 15,000 regulars and 5,000 reservists.
  • Scottish-born British citizens living in another country will automatically be Scottish citizens.
  • British citizens living in Scotland considered Scottish citizens, including those holding dual nationality.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressed MSPs at Holyrood just a few hours after the document was published, and said the blueprint for independence would drive forward the debate over the country's future.

Blair Jenkins, chief executive of the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign, said of the White Paper: "It addresses the questions and concerns that matter to the people who live and work in Scotland, from childcare to how the country will be rid of Trident and the nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

"It is a very informative and easy-to-understand guide and it will open a new dimension in the debate about Scotland's future and the choice we face next September over the opportunity to make our own decisions according to our own needs, priorities and aspirations or sticking with a Westminster system that is simply not working for Scotland."

But Mr Darling, the former UK chancellor who now leads the Better Together campaign, said the White Paper had failed to give credible answers to fundamentally important questions.

Democracy Live: Nicola Sturgeon's ministerial statement

He went on: "What currency would we use? Who will set our mortgage rates? How much would taxes have to go up? How will we pay pensions and benefits in future?

"It is a fantasy to say we can leave the UK but still keep all the benefits of UK membership. 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."

Mr Darling said the childcare pledge could be delivered now, and raised concern about the viability of the Scottish government's plan to keep the pound, saying SNP ministers needed a currency "Plan B".

The Scottish government's critics have also questioned its plan to get rid of Trident nuclear weapons - currently based on the Clyde - while being a member of Nato.

For the UK government, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said the Scottish government had deliberately ignored the uncertainties and difficulties of independence, and had failed to put a price tag on its vision, adding: "Rarely have so many words been used to answer so little.

Alistair Darling: "They haven't answered any of the fundamental questions to which Scotland wants the answers."

"We know that the terms of independence would need to be negotiated with many countries including the rest of the UK and the EU.

"An honest assessment of the challenges and uncertainties of leaving the UK would have seriously helped the debate between now and September.

Instead we have been given a wish with no price list. Today was their chance to level with people. They have chosen a different path and people in Scotland will judge them on that."

Graphic: Who would be a Scottish citizen? Automatic citizenship: British citizen resident in Scotland on day one of independence. British citizen born in Scotland but living elsewhere on day one of independence. Child born in Scotland to at least one Scottish parent who has Scottish citizenship or indefinite leave to remain at the time of their birth.  Child born outside Scotland to at least one parent who has Scottish citizenship (but birth must be registered in Scotland). Can register for citizenship:  British national living outside Scotland with at least one parent who qualifies for Scottish citizenship. Citizens of any country who have a parent or grandparent who qualifies for Scottish citizenship. May apply for naturalisation, subject to immigration laws:  Migrants in Scotland legally. Citizens of any country who have spent at least 10 years living in Scotland at any time and have an ongoing connection with Scotland.
 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 2598.

    I can see loads and loads of english students looking forward with glee to Scottish independence and mmbership of the EU, free university education at last :)

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 2597.

    I don't want the Scots to leave the Union. But if they choose to go, then fair enough.
    What I hate is the deceit and conceit of SNP, and feel that they really don't serve best interests of the Scottish people. And by promising a load of stuff as "certainty" when the reality will be quite different and the result of lengthy negotiations, compromises and money (or debt) changing hands...

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 2596.

    All bonkers.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 2595.

    I am just so angry over this... Go back two generations and I am Scottish... I carry a full Scottish name, I am proud to be British.

    So many personal agendas, so few think of the whole.

    We are so much stronger together over the long term.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 2594.

    Can we ask who paid for this Nationalist Fifty shades of Bull?

    I hope it wasn't the taxpayer and that it came out of the 30% Nationalist support they have. After all this is for Nationalists - Not Scots. Anything else would be fraud.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 2593.

    Can Yorkshire secede as well?

    The rest of Britain has been living off our puddings for too long.

    Pudding Tax on you all

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 2592.

    I have friends who are labour voters who are disgusted that their party had lost all of its principles in terms of siding with the Tories to block Scotland creating a fairer and wealthier society for its citizens. I take it Scottish labour are only following the orders of their bosses at Westminster. It was good to see ex labour lord provost of Glasgow coming out agreeing in the yes vote, true lab

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 2591.

    There's an awful lot of comment on here that seems to follow the old 'ignorance is bliiss' adage. READ THE DOCUMENT AND THEN COMMENT.

    It's clear from the comments on here that some are just regurgitating the Alastair Darling line, which is ill advised, believe me - his contribution on it was given before the document was even released!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2590.

    Quote: jslevin
    Finding a lot of comments from people of mainly the English variety quite offensive

    And the Scots are NEVER offensive about the English of course.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 2589.

    Mr Salmond, have you not noticed the UK does not like getting involved in currency unions?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2588.

    @2545 no, everything will still be blamed on the English, but the difference is that the Scots will no longer be able to do anything about it. Accusations of "Protectionism" "English bias" etc, which could currently be raised by Scottish MPs in Westminster will soon be gleefully ignored by their more powerful, and now free of moral responsibility, Southern neighbours.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 2587.

    2473.MaddestMax
    27 "I think that many scots will vote yes despite actually being ultimately pro-union. The english don't understand just how much the scots hate the tories"
    http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022699668
    ...........................................they do now!.....LOL

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2586.

    2570.Clive Balchin
    Just now
    I personally feel Scottish devolution has been a success

    +++

    Are you connected with a company that profitted from the Holyrood chatting house that cost ten times the estimate?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 2585.

    41. You don't get that choice because the sovereignty of Scotland has and always will reside with the PEOPLE of Scotland. Even Margaret Thatcher stated that when Prime Minister!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2584.

    Salmond is labelling it as independence, but his white paper suggests Scotland will be constrained by the same old economics.

    He wants the currency pegged and owned by BoE, he wants the Queen, he wants NATO, he wants open borders.

    This is not independence. This is Devo Max. He is simply trying to gain more cash for his socialist agenda and selling the Scottish public a pipedream of freedom.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 2583.

    Of course Scotland should keep North Sea oil. And they should also have their other national assets back from the English like Royal Bank of Scotland (that's £80 billion you owe). Perhaps "Sir" Fred Goodwin can be the first chancellor.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 2582.

    "Scottish Defence Force to enlist 15,000 regulars"

    I can see the recruiting posters now "spend the next 22 years in a grim barracks in Glasgow".

    I can also see queues outside the Carlisle recruiting office.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 2581.

    The omission from the blueprint of what options are available to Scotland if they are forced to leave the Pound speaks volumes.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2580.

    A nation is "a group of people united by a mistaken view about the past and a hatred of their neighbours." [Karl Wolfgang Deutsch (1912 – 1992) a Czech of German ancestry] We may see this definition tested in the run-up to the vote.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2579.

    Perusing the document - a revelation. It seems there's absolutely no risk or downside to independence whatsoever! It's all going to go swimmingly and everyone will be happy.

    That's it. I'm off to see the vicar about the parish council seceding from the UK forthwith. From what Alex tells us we should have no problems.

 

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