Scottish Independence White Paper: The Good, The Bad and the Utterly Deluded
by Dr Alison Smith
Today the Scottish Government launched a White Paper to set out their arguments for Scottish independence. Here are just a few of the details to emerge from the 670-page tome.
The SNP has reaffirmed its support for the European Union, pointing out that an independent nation would not risk being ejected from the EU against the wishes of the Scottish people. The White Paper also highlighted the damage caused by the current UK immigration regime, particularly to the higher education sector. The report promises:
One of the more disingenuous passages of the White Paper also referred to the tertiary education sector. The SNP plans to continue charging students from the rest of the UK full tuition fees to attend Scottish universities. Yet, an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK would be distinct Member States under EU law. The Scottish Government must be aware that following this policy would swiftly put them on the wrong end of an ECJ judgement. Likely they are hoping to stall the question of university funding until after the referendum.
The SNP argues that an independent Scotland would keep the pound, the monarchy and a number of other British institutions. Yet they have also promised to remove nuclear weapons from Scottish soil as a top priority, which would sour relations with the rest of the UK. Commentators have long argued that an independent Scotland would have no option but to keep Trident in exchange for constructive cooperation with the Rest of the UK. So, tucked away in the White Paper, here is the SNP’s get-out clause:
The ‘Not As Good As It Sounds’
Politicians have a knack of dressing up ‘jam tomorrow’ as ‘a steak dinner today’ and the White Paper launch was no different. The Deputy First Minister unveiled a new policy of universal childcare. Just a couple of problems. First, the Scottish Parliament already has responsibility for childcare, and the SNP have governed Scotland since 2007. Why must hard-pressed families, suffering under very poor childcare provision by northern European standards, wait for independence before this problem is sorted? And second, the promise of universal childcare for two-year-olds will not come into force until 2024.
And the Utterly Deluded
On international affairs, the report argues that an independent Scotland would benefit from having ‘a seat at the top table to represent Scotland’s interests more effectively.’ Now, one could argue that a ‘seat at the top table’ is more trouble than it’s worth. But to argue that a country of five million people will have a place at the top table of international affairs?