Scottish independence referendum: Experts examine the claims

With the debate on Scotland's future entering "referendum year", the "yes" and "no" sides are intensifying their campaigns.

But what are their messages and how are they being viewed, not only by each other, but by experts, commentators and academics?

Throughout the coming months, the BBC news website will be picking out statements from both sides of the debate and asking a panel of experts to analysis the claims.

Here, we look at some of the key messages in the Scottish Government's White Paper for independence.

CHILDCARE

Alex Salmond

White Paper says: Transform the childcare system ensuring, by the end of the first parliament of an independent Scotland, all three and four-year-olds and vulnerable two-year-olds are entitled to 1,140 hours of childcare a year.

PRO-INDEPENDENCE - Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister, says: "Closing the percentage gap between ourselves and Sweden in female participation in the workforce would increase Scotland's economic output by £2.2bn and raise taxation revenues across the range of taxation by £700m."

PRO-UNION - Iain Gray, Scottish Labour's finance spokesman, says: "John Swinney [Scotland's finance secretary] can choose to put Scottish families ahead of independence by bringing forward childcare for 50% of two-year-olds now and not after an independence vote."

EXPERT - Richard House, senior lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, University of Winchester, says: "This toxic 'Dutch auction" between the main political parties on who can make the best universal childcare offer could well be catastrophic for the well-being of many of Scotland's young children. The survey data actually shows that a majority of parents (usually mothers) would far rather spend the first years of their young children's lives at home than be plunged into the stress and anxiety of juggling both a career and the early attachment needs of a young child."

EUROPEAN UNION

European flag

White Paper says: An independent Scotland would "continue" as an EU member, following discussions with the UK government, member states and EU institutions to agree a "smooth transition". Talks would take part on the basis of "continuity of effect", meaning they would be based on treaty obligations currently applying to the UK, without disruption to Scotland's integrated standing within the framework of the EU.

PRO-INDEPENDENCE - Alex Salmond says: "In the 18-month period between the referendum and Scotland becoming an independent nation in 2016, we will negotiate our position from within the European Union."

PRO-UNION - Ruth Davidson, Scottish Conservative Party leader, says: "An independent Scotland wouldn't call the shots in negotiating entry to the EU, nor would it get any special treatment - it would join the back of the same queue as every other country."

EXPERT - Paul Beaumont, chair in EU and Private International Law, Aberdeen University, says: "The Scottish government believes this should be done from within the EU, as a Treaty amendment under Article 48, rather than as Scotland seeking accession to the EU as a new Member State under Article 49. All the other EU member states must accept the amendments required to make Scotland a member state. The Spanish prime minister is unlikely to allow the negotiations concerning Scottish EU membership to proceed quickly for fear of sending a message to Catalonia that an independence referendum there could lead to continuity of membership of the EU. Furthermore, a number of member states may not accept Scotland's argument for "continuity of effects" and insist on Scotland accepting all or part of the normal conditions for membership of the EU. Hard negotiations on substance would focus on the opt out from the Euro, the opt out from Schengen into the Common Travel Area in the British Isles, and the flexible opt in for justice and home affairs legislation. Therefore, it seems highly unlikely that Scotland's membership would be wrapped up in a treaty revision process in time for all the Member States to ratify the amendments by March 2016. The Scottish government should acknowledge this timescale is incredibly optimistic and be prepared to push back the date of independence if this is necessary to secure continuity of membership of the EU for the people of Scotland."

DEFENCE

Scottish soldiers

White Paper says: Remove Trident nuclear weapons from the Clyde by 2020 and establish a Scottish Defence Force consisting of 15,000 full-time personnel and 5,000 reservists and a £2.5bn defence budget.

PRO-INDEPENDENCE - Alex Salmond says: "The great argument in favour of having a Scottish Defence Force is two-fold - one, you wouldn't have to have the biggest concentration of nuclear weapons in Western Europe situated in Scotland, which many people support the removal, and secondly of course, we'd have the right to decide whether or not to participate in international engagements."

PRO-UNION - Philip Hammond, UK defence secretary, says: "At a time when sophisticated military equipment and capabilities are becoming increasingly expensive, smaller, less well-resourced countries often have to make painful trade-offs about which capabilities to retain, and which they can no longer afford to maintain."

EXPERT - Dr Phillips O'Brien, senior lecturer in history, Glasgow University, says: "There is actually more flexibility being shown here by the White Paper and Alex Salmond on the withdrawal of nuclear weapons on the Clyde. The White Paper has no firm deadline for withdrawal, merely expressing a 'view' that they would like them removed by 2020. Philip Hammond's statement is also less decisively critical than might be the case. Nato has already acknowledged the fact that smaller nations cannot be expected to maintain full military services. Certainly an independent Scotland would maintain nothing like as capable a defence force as a full UK, but it would maintain a force that could be integrated into Nato and the alliance would be the main pillar of its security."

BROADCASTING

BBC Scotland building

White Paper says: Establish a Scottish Broadcasting Service using the resources of BBC Scotland, while creating a formal relationship with the BBC to supply the same level of network programming, including Doctor Who and EastEnders.

PRO-INDEPENDENCE - Fiona Hyslop, Scottish culture secretary, says: "When compared to the expenditure by nations of a comparable size on their primary public service broadcaster, it is clear Scotland's current level of licence fee would be more than sufficient to provide a high-quality service, and as such I would not envisage the Scottish broadcaster carrying advertising."

PRO-UNION - Ruth Davidson: "We pay around £300m towards the licence fee but, by clubbing together with the rest of the UK, we get well more than £3bn worth of programming. Running a new Scottish broadcaster means something has to give - either, it will mean losing programmes or paying more for amazing coverage of things like the Olympics, to great channels like CBeebies and services like the iPlayer.

EXPERT - Philip Schlesinger, professor of cultural policy, Glasgow University, says: "The Scottish government's proposals about a Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS) should be read as a negotiating position. If funding levels were fully retained in Scotland, it could certainly sustain a broadcaster with some quality production. But it would be a small-scale operation and its indigenously produced content could not match the range of that of the BBC as a whole. It is for that reason that what is being sought is a most-favoured nation trading relationship with the BBC. TV would still be very important in offering a common agenda and experience across the border. But we don't know if a future rUK government would take that view or whether the BBC would finesse its relationship with an SBS and say it's still business as usual, with its global image in mind."

CURRENCY

Sterling, notes and coins

White Paper says: Retain the pound in an independent Scotland as part of a "currency union" with the rest of the UK.

PRO-INDEPENDENCE - John Swinney, Scottish finance secretary, says: "It makes eminent economic and practical sense for us to share the same currency - that's the proposition at the heart of the sterling zone idea."

PRO-UNION - Alistair Darling, leader Better Together and former UK chancellor, says: "You don't have to imagine what happens in a currency union - you only have to look at Europe to see exactly how it works. Germany is, in effect, telling the smaller countries what to do."

EXPERT - Angus Armstrong, head of macroeconomics and finance group, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, says: "As the two remarks show, there is a fundamental disagreement on the currency issue. The White Paper makes clear that it is not just about using sterling every day. It is about whether the Bank of England (an institution governed by the UK Parliament) offers a full range of central banking services to an independent country. In order to do so, the UK government would require some fairly intrusive restrictions on Scottish affairs to control its risk exposure. The question becomes whether an agreement can be made binding and agreeable to an independent Scotland."

TAX

Calculator and pen

White Paper says: Set out a timescale for reducing corporation tax of up to 3% to stimulate economic activity and to retain and attract new investment, while reducing Air Passenger Duty by 50% and introduce a simpler tax system to cut costs and avoidance.

PRO-INDEPENDENCE - Alex Salmond says: "The one-size-fits-all economic policies of successive Westminster governments have failed and are continuing to fail the people of Scotland - we perform well at the moment but we should be doing so much better."

PRO-UNION - Alistair Darling says: "If we were to leave the UK we would face the prospect of big tax rises, damaging cuts to public services, or a combination of the two - the nationalists have chosen to ignore reality and to offer up a type of fantasy economics that beggars belief."

EXPERT - William Craig, senior law lecturer, Robert Gordon University, says: "The overview and focus of the White paper is very much about having a variety of approaches to tax raising rather than the standard approach currently operated. I think many would see the intention to be flexible with corporation tax rates by 3% as an attractive proposition for inward economic investment and therefore increased jobs in the Scottish economy. The White Paper also states the need to re-industrialise the Scottish economy."

OIL/ENERGY

Workers on a rig

White Paper says: Retain a single UK-wide market for electricity and gas and make no changes to the oil and gas fiscal regime without consultation. (The Scottish government says it has no plans to increase the overall tax burden on the oil industry).

PRO-INDEPENDENCE - Alex Salmond says: "Nobody would seriously argue that the UK has handled oil well as a resource over the last 40 years. Nobody would seriously dispute that Norway - the country across the North Sea - has handled that resource much better."

PRO-UNION - Alistair Darling says: "For the last 20 years, Scotland has spent more than it's got in, with the exception of one year, so if you were to set up an oil fund at the moment you'd actually have to borrow money to save it and that just seems complete nonsense."

EXPERT -Tony Mackay, energy economist, says: "The industry was badly affected by tax increases in the 2011 UK Budget and a number of important development projects were cancelled or suspended. The UK government subsequently recognised that it had made mistakes with the tax increases and has recently made concessions, in the form of field allowances, which have enabled some of those projects to go ahead, notably in the waters around Shetland. The basic position is that the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) is now a very mature oil and gas province, having produced for about 40 years. Most - possibly all - of the best prospects have already been developed. The industry is now concentrating on developing the more remote and difficult fields, notably in the West of Shetland area, and these are inevitably expensive to develop. There is, therefore, no case for increasing oil and gas taxes. I believe retaining a single UK-wide market for electricity and gas is also sensible. Scotland is a net exporter of oil and gas, and also electricity from wind farms and other renewable sources. There would therefore be problems if exports to England were reduced, although that might in any case be against EU market rules."

PENSIONS/WELFARE

Pensioners on a protest

White Paper says: Increase state pensions by inflation, earnings or 2.5%, whichever is higher, and raise the state pension entitlement age to 66 in 2020 (in line with the rest of the UK) with an independent commission advising on changes thereafter.

PRO-INDEPENDENCE - John Swinney, Scotland's Finance Secretary, says: "In an independent Scotland we would make decisions for Scotland based on the needs of the people of Scotland. People's pension rights will be fully protected in an independent Scotland and payment of the benefits they have built up in their existing workplace pensions would not be affected by the move to independence.

PRO-UNION - Gregg McClymont, shadow pensions minister, says: "Leaving the United Kingdom would be costly and risky for pensions - barely a day now goes by without the nationalists making promises without any plan to pay for them."

EXPERT - Christine Scott, assistant director of pensions at ICAS, says: "The challenge for the Scottish government is to demonstrate that an independent Scotland can deliver a pensions system which meets the needs of Scottish citizens while ensuring that citizens would at least be no worse off in retirement. The Scottish Government's proposals on pensions in an independent Scotland seek to achieve this through replicating the status quo and adopting reforms which are currently planned, such as the implementation of the single-tier state pension. Any proposed differentiation is at the margins such as the proposal to establish an independent commission to examine the timetable for increasing the state pension age to 67. David Cameron's announcement that a future Conservative Government would maintain the triple lock further reduces any obvious policy differences. Replicating existing arrangements in an independent Scotland would not be without its challenges. ICAS has already highlighted that without changes to EU rules on the funding of defined benefit pension schemes, employers would need to make good any deficits held by new cross-border schemes."

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    James in Glasgow: The opening ceremony definitely gave a very warm welcome to all our visitors and made a great impression for the city on the world stage. I'm a very proud Glaswegian today! PS: Are there any Scottie dogs still for sale in Scotland?!?

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  49.  
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    James McAvoy and Chris Hoy

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  50.  
    Millions tuned in 10:33: Via Twitter BBC Scotland

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  51.  
    Opening ceremony - your views 10:24: Via Email

    Ray: The Opening Ceremony had warmth, humour and inclusivity in its organization. Loved it. It was also great to see John Barrowman pronouncing to the world through his same sex kiss, that it's safe to be LGBT in Scotland. Bravo Glasgow, Bravo Scotland, Bravo John Barrowman.

    Lorna: Wonderful event. Great idea to raise money for children, however why did red arrows not show Scottish colours of blue and white instead of red, white and blue?

    Sandra: Thoroughly entertaining display. But the gay kiss was completely unnecessary, with disregard for the feelings or attitudes of many of the other participating countries.

    Anna in Galloway: The first 10 minutes or so were cringeworthy and the singing was dire! It definitely improved as time went on, although I feel I must be alone in the country as I did not like the Scotland team's outfits or "the kiss"!

    Irene in Kinross: Sir Chris Hoy is an honorary Clydesider!!! I loved the way he graciously stepped forward to help with the baton and then stepped back. An example for us all.

    What do you think? Tweet using #ScotlandLive, email us here, or text to 80295.

     
  52.  
    Farah's 'tough' decision 10:04:

    Double Olympic champion Mo Farah has described his decision to pull out of the 5,000m and 10,000m events as Glasgow 2014 as "tough".

    Mo Farah

    Speaking from his training base in the south of France, he added: "I really wanted to add the Commonwealth titles to my Olympic and World Championships but the event is coming a few weeks too soon for me as my body is telling me it's not ready to race yet. Best wishes to my fellow athletes in Glasgow."

    Team England Chef de Mission Jan Paterson said: "It is a real blow for any athlete to miss out on a major championships through injury, but to have fought so hard to regain full fitness and to have to take such a difficult decision at this stage is particularly hard."

     
  53.  
    Farah out of Games 09:58: Via Twitter BBC Sport

    tweets: Team England have confirmed that Mo Farah will not compete at the #Glasgow2014 Commonwealth Games

     
  54.  
    Today's weather 09:55: Gillian Smart BBC Scotland Weather Presenter

    Mist and low cloud will burn off to leave another day of strong sunshine and rising temperatures.

    We'll see 25C to 28C quite widely, with 29C possible in parts of the north and south west. Eastern coasts will be cooler, with haar at times.

    See my full forecast.

     
  55.  
    Glasgow from the sky 09:52:

    Scotland's largest city has changed over the years in preparation for the Commonwealth Games.

    Glasgow from the sky

    BBC Scotland's Chris McLaughlin took to the skies to see how the Games have transformed the city's landscape.

     
  56.  
    BBC at the Quay 09:47: Via Twitter BBC Scotland

    tweets: Here's what we have in store @BBCthequay today: free entry, big screen & comfy deckchairs too!

    BBC at the Quay

    Some tickets are still available here.

     
  57.  
    Opening ceremony - your views 09:36: Via SMS

    Chris in Hamilton: Nicola Benadetti couldn't help smiling as the crowd joined in with her amazing performance of Loch Lomond.

    Calum: Nicola Benedetti was fantastic - shed a tear at that. Not so keen on Barrowman's pantomime singing but I thought it was pretty great and we should be proud.

    Anon: What a great idea to incorporate fundraising for such a good cause into this high profile event

    Letty from Aberdeenshire: Thought it was great, only complaint was Rod Stewart - why? He is not Scottish in any way, Proclaimers would have been better choice.

    Anon: The first part of the ceremony made me cringe with its tweeness. Why is so much Scottish TV so excruciatingly naff? And surely we have some great personalities who could have presented it? Parts of the ceremony were OK though.

     
  58.  
    Baton hitch 09:19:

    It spent ten months travelling around the world, but last night we had to wait just a little longer than expected to hear the Queen read her message from the inside the baton.

    Problem with Queen's Baton at opening ceremony

    Watch as Prince Imran of Malaysia, the Commonwealth Games Federation president, struggles to open the Commonwealth baton.

    Sir Chris Hoy - ever the hero - was on hand to help out, before Prince Imran eventually managed to remove the message much to the relief of the monarch... and the organising committee.

     
  59.  
    Glasgow Kiss 09:11: Via Twitter Nicola Sturgeon

    tweets: So many brilliant moments last night, but the new-style Glasgow Kiss had to be one of the best #openingceremony

    Glasgow kiss
     
  60.  
    Morning call 09:09: BBC Radio Scotland

    This morning, like everybody else, we're talking about last night's opening ceremony. presenter Kaye Adams wants your views: did it represent us the way you would want?

    Elsewhere, two prisoners serving life sentences say rules that bar them from voting in the referendum breach their human rights and are taking their case to the Supreme Court. We're asking: should prisoners be allowed to vote in the referendum?

    Lines are open. Call us on 0500 92 95 00, text 80295 or email morningcallscotland@bbc.co.uk.

    You can listen to the debate here.

     
  61.  
    Watch the Highlights 09:00:

    Did you miss it? Want to see the Scottie dogs again?

    Scottie dog

    Take four minutes out of your morning to watch highlights of the Glasgow 2014 opening ceremony.

     
  62.  
    And we're off! 08:46: Graham Fraser BBC Scotland

    Day one of competition has officially started!

    Moments to look out for today include Scotland's Hannah Miley, a swimming gold medallist at the last Games in Delhi, starting the defence of her 400m Individual Medley in the pool just after 10:30.

    Elsewhere, Olympic cycling champion Jason Kenny will take part in the men's sprint at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome at 11:00.

     
  63.  
    Opening ceremony - your views 08:44: Via SMS

    Anonymous: I thought Glasgow put on a fine show last night, and the text for charity at the end was a splendid touch. I sent my £5.

    Paul: I lasted 10 mins b4 heading to A&E to get my toes uncurled.

    Anne-Marie, Edinburgh: So, so proud of you for what you did, Glasgow. You were fantastic!!!

    Anna, St Andrews: Why John Barrowman....? Just cringemaking. Amy Macdonald & co magic!

    Alan, Brechin: Opening ceremony thumbs up, Rod Stewart thumbs down.

    Hil, Glasgow: The Scotland team outfits were incredibly beautiful & inspiring - after all the unjust criticism, designer Jilli Blackwood is to be congratulated.

    Keep them coming... Twitter #ScotlandLive, email newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk, text 80295.

     
  64.  
    Twenty golds to be won 08:36: Via Twitter BBC Sport

    tweets: Day one of #Glasgow2014: Triathlon, cycling & swimming among the Commonwealth games highlights

    BBC Sport day one
     
  65.  
    Today's front pages 08:30:

    Not surprisingly, the Glasgow 2014 opening ceremony dominates Scotland's newspapers this morning.

    The Scotsman front page

    All thought it was a spectacular start to the Games, with the Scotsman's front page proclaiming "Pure dead brilliant", The Herald saying "Shining example" and the Daily Mail praising the "Tartan special".

    See the front pages here.

     
  66.  
    Opening ceremony - your views 08:10: Via Email

    Robert from Ayrshire: Such an amazing spectacle last night from Glasgow, a place I love so dearly. The people are just so friendly - what an 11 days we are going to have in this wonderful country of ours.

    Dmaceach2: As a proud Scot living south of the border, I thought the opening was a stereotype of what Scotland looks like to the rest of the world. Tartan and sea monsters. What a let down. I only hope they'll do us proud in the closing ceremony.

    Caireen McGregor: I have never been prouder of Glasgow after the opening ceremony last night. A very Glaswegian affair. I think it was a spectacular ceremony which was fun yet moving.

    TimR: Well done Glasgow - awesome. So so proud of you all.

    Do you agree? Tweet us using #ScotlandLive, email us here, or text on 80295.

     
  67.  
    Bowled over 07:56: Via Twitter Nicky Campbell Presenter

    tweets: Good morning from the Lawn Bowls from Kelvingrove #CommonwealthGames

    Kelvingrove bowling green

    The matches begin today at 08:45, with Scotland in action against India.

    Watch all the coverage on the BBC Sport website.

     
  68.  
    Murray to keep Mauresmo? 07:49:

    Following Andy Murray's defeat by Grigor Dimitrov at Wimbledon, there has been plenty of speculation about the future of his coach Amelie Mauresmo.

    Following talks between the pair, it's believed Murray will retain the services of the former Wimbledon champion after Mauresmo was pictured at Murray's training camp in Miami.

    Amelie Mauresmo pictured at Andy Murray's training camp
     
  69.  
    Watch live 07:43:

    Michael Jamieson and Sir Bradley Wiggins aren't the only ones getting their medal bids under way today - badminton, bowls and squash also start.

    Falkland Islands Lawn Bowls at Kelvingrove

    Coverage begins on BBC One and BBC Three at 9am, with updates throughout the day on Radio 5 Live and online.

    You can also watch live on BBC iPlayer.

     
  70.  
    From the Twittersphere... 07:30:

    Social media went wild before, during and after the opening ceremony, with many of the stars tweeting selfies from Celtic Park, including Sir Chris Hoy, who hooked up with fellow Scot James McAvoy. Not surprisingly, the Scottie dogs now have their own hashtag...

    Sir Chris Hoy and James MacAvoy

    Read more social media reaction here.

     
  71.  
    Today at the Games 07:20:

    It's the first day of competition at Glasgow 2014, with the first medals be won in the triathlon, cycling, gymnastics, judo, swimming and weightlifting.

    Michael Jamieson

    Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee and his brother Jonny will be going for gold for England in the triathlon at Strathclyde Park, while Sir Bradley Wiggins will be in action for England in the track cycling at 4pm.

    For Scots, the big draw of the day doesn't come till 19:00, when Michael Jamieson is expected to feature in the final of the 200m breastroke. His heats start at 12:30.

     
  72.  
    Latest updates
  73.  
    Glasgow's big night 07:07:

    So, did you see it? Last night's opening ceremony from Celtic Park was a dazzling affair, with everything from Tunnock's Teacakes and Scottie dogs to royalty, SuBo and fireworks.

    Opening ceremony

    But do you think it did Glasgow and Scotland proud?

    We want to hear what you think. Tweet using #ScotlandLive, email us here or text to 80295.

     
  74.  
    Welcome 06:57: Marianne Taylor BBC Scotland news

    Good morning and welcome to BBC Scotland Live, your minute-by-minute guide to all the latest news, sport, weather and travel across the country.

    It's the first day of competition at Glasgow 2014, and with so much live action to look forward to we'll be here until 23:00.

    Stay in touch and send us your pictures on Twitter using #ScotlandLive, by email at newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk or by text on 80295.

     

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