Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

'Win or lose independence vote, Scottish politics is set to be changed irrevocably'

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond presents the White Paper for Scottish independence at the Science Museum Glasgow
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond presents the White Paper for Scottish independence at the Science Museum Glasgow

With publication of the White Paper 'Scotland's Future', new momentum was injected into the discussion on Scottish independence last week.

It sets out a comprehensive blueprint for independence and addresses, in detail, fiscal governance and the economy, as well as all relevant policy areas.

Part Four is entirely dedicated to managing the transition from devolution to independence, and developing a new Scottish democracy.

The White Paper has concretised the political debate; it gives Scots an opportunity to have informed discussion, and take informed decisions.

The vision set out is strategically, and politically challenging. It pulls no punches.

Scotland currently gets 9.3% of UK spending, but generates 9.4% of UK taxes.

Since 2008, on average Scottish workers paid an extra £1500 to the London Treasury than they got back.

Scottish tax payers contribute £250 million annually to fund Britain’s nuclear programme.

In contrast, by 2020 Scotland’s renewable energy could be worth £2 billion.

The White Paper says "devolution has only taken us so far". It asserts independence, and would allow Scotland to design its own participative democracy.

The question posed is not whether Scotland can afford to be independent, but instead why it isn’t doing better given all its natural and human wealth.

Another stark message was delivered.

"Today we have a Tory government in Westminster that most of us did not vote for, and yet that government is able to take decisions that cause real harm to families and communities in Scotland."

Doesn’t that sound familiar?

With ten months until the Scottish referendum, ‘Scotland’s Future’ has brought the political, democratic, fiscal and economic debate to a new level.

The paradigm has been shifted. A mainstream debate has begun on options for progressive and democratic transformation in Scotland.

Win, or lose in September, Scottish politics will be changed irrevocably.