Salmond fishing: The SNP leader's blueprint for an independent Scotland leaves all the big questions unanswered

At its core is the assertion that, freed from the dead weight of Westminster, an independent Scotland would be automatically able to meet its challenges

Share
Related Topics

With the publication of Scotland’s Future yesterday, the battle lines for next September’s referendum were supposed to be drawn. Billed by Alex Salmond as “the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever”, the document was to spell out the details at last, turning the rhetoric about an ancient country’s national story into a practicable analysis of quantifiable advantage. Instead, the White Paper is just more of the same, a 650-page confection of promises, guesses and elisions, part wish list, part Scottish National Party manifesto.

At its core is the assertion that, freed from the dead weight of Westminster indifference, an independent Scotland would be automatically and unquestionably better able to meet its (barely acknowledged) challenges. There were plenty of sweeteners. The minimum wage will rise, unpopular welfare reforms will be scrapped, the public purse will bulge with an extra £600 per year per head. Transport will be better, childcare will be universal, there will even be more opportunity to address the under-performance of more deprived schoolchildren.

In short, Scotland will – at the stroke of a pen – be richer, happier and more equal. At the same time, however, the more comforting aspects of union will remain unchanged. The pound will stay, thanks to a re-creation of the long-defunct Sterling Area; so will Strictly Come Dancing, courtesy of a joint venture with the BBC; and so will the Queen, whose sovereignty, via the Union of the Crowns in 1603, is apparently less of an infringement than the 1707 Union of Parliaments. And yet somehow, despite all this, “a vote for independence will be the clearest possible declaration of confidence in ourselves and our nation”. More emotive still, “if we vote no, Scotland stands still”.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the old questions remained unanswered. Indeed, the SNP’s assumptions are so legion, the only difficulty is in selecting the most egregious examples. Take currency union. The White Paper presumes Scotland can stick with sterling, at the same time retaining the Bank of England as the lender of last resort. Such an arrangement is possible, but it requires more than Mr Salmond’s say-so. Yet, as the No campaign has been swift to point out, there is no suggestion of a Plan B. Furthermore, Plan A hardly constitutes the sovereign independence of which Holyrood is so vocal a champion (as the hard lessons from the euro crisis so compellingly attest).

Similarly, the SNP talks glibly of a “smooth transition” into the EU on the day of independence (scheduled for 24 March 2016). Not only do such assurances gloss over a multitude of diplomatic implication; they also overlook the awkward fact that new EU states are required to commit to a future in the eurozone, something that Scotland’s Future explicitly rules out.

Even the eye-catching pledge on childcare is not what it seems. Given that such matters are already devolved to Holyrood, it hardly requires the unpicking of three centuries of shared history and shared values to put the plan into action.

The Independent firmly supports the Scots’ right to choose. But we also firmly believe that their country’s interests remain firmly within the union. Mr Salmond has not changed the debate, he has merely conjured more castles in the air.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary