THE SCOTTISH National Party is to set up a committee to address popular fears about independence, in an effort to overcome Scots' 'inferiority complex' over voting to dissolve the union, it was announced at the party's annual conference yesterday.
The Preparation for Independence committee, comprising academics, business leaders and legal figures, will seek to refute opposition 'fears and smears' which party workers say have convinced many voters that independence in Europe is an unrealistic goal.
Allan Macartney, who won the SNP's second Euro-seat earlier this year in north-east Scotland, will chair the committee, which meets for the first time next month. Speaking in Inverness yesterday, he accused Labour and the Conservatives of exploiting Scots' 'inferiority complex about taking control of their own destiny after years of rule from Westminster', by spreading smears and myths.
'Bogus claims' that independence would be disruptive and impractical had cowed many voters into supporting unionist parties.
Mr Macartney said: 'Unionist politicians do not want change and in recent years we have heard all sorts of absurd claims about the implications of independence, some of which have, unfortunately, lodged in voters' minds. We have been told that our pensions managed by English-based companies would be at risk; that oil revenues from the North Sea would not accrue to Scotland; that we would have to pay higher taxes; some have even described queues at the border. If you examine the UK and the new European legislation, it is clear that all such objections are groundless.'
Through the new committee, the SNP would challenge the claims, Mr Macartney said, 'wiping out people's fears and eradicating the defensive political culture which characterises large parts of Scotland - areas where people doggedly continue to vote for a party that has lost four general elections in a row instead of voting for positive change'.
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