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.

Document

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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
    -2

    Comment number 2618.

    Have just entered the web site and first thing that jumps out is who is entitled to citizenshp. Is there anywhere I can find out how to opt out of citizenship should the yes campaign get their way.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2617.

    a lot of talk about UK debt, and the share Scotland should have. The very reason I want to vote YES, is so I have a say in what happens in Scotland. Since for the bulk of the last 100 years, Scotland has had policy heaped upon us by English voters, I personally think we should have a clean slate and leave England to have the product of it's own making!

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 2616.

    Just can't understand why Scotland would logically want to do this. But if it does - it is full Independence. Meaning removal of access to England's road to transport it's food from The South. Full Border controls. No Sterling. Full allocation of debt. And enjoy that oil while you can!!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 2615.

    If Scotland votes itself out it would have to to stop paying for EU students otherwise it outright racism toward the English.

    If that continues we should make a law to pay English, welsh and NI graduates more than Scottish Graduates to make up for the University fees.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 2614.

    Salmond is consistently accused of lieing

    He is accused by Labour, Lib Dems, and the Tories!!

    those three dont exactly have a very good track record for telling the truth over the last few decades!!

    The no camp offers nothing but scare tactics, regardless of what SNP says they always say the opposite and they dont even need proof, they just have to suggest it to scare people from a yes vote!

 

Comments 5 of 2618

 

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