Humza Yousaf MSP (SNP, Glasgow), Parliamentary Liaison Officer to the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, makes the case for Scottish independence.
By Humza Yousaf MSP (SNP, Glasgow), Parliamentary Liaison Officer to the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond
No one cares more about Scotland’s success than the people who live here and that, ultimately, is why independence is the best choice for our future.
Independence is about making Scotland more successful. At its most basic it is about the ability to take our own decisions on the issues that affect life in Scotland, Scotland’s economic prospects and our position in the world. And that is something the people of Scotland understand.
Being able to take those decisions in Scotland would see a Scottish Parliament able to bring an end to nuclear weapons off Scotland’s shores and the billions of pounds spent to maintain them.
Independence would enable a Scottish Parliament for example to develop a pensions system that supported our elderly properly.
It would mean that when the people of Scotland oppose illegal wars we cannot be forced into them and it would see a Scottish Parliament able to make the economic decisions on taxation and investment that would grow our industries and take full advantage of our second energy windfall.
In the most recent survey of social attitudes in Scotland 43 per cent of people in Scotland wanted the Scottish Parliament to make all decisions for Scotland. That is independence and support for making all decisions in Scotland is on the increase.
The fact that only 21% wanted to keep things the way they are may hold the key to David Cameron’s panicked intervention.
People in Scotland also understand clearly how independence will be achieved.
In May’s elections the SNP said we would hold a referendum on independence in the second half of this parliamentary term and that is exactly what we will do.
If others who favour more powers – the devo max option – want to ask a question on that we are open to their ideas, but for us and for me it is independence that presents the best opportunity for Scotland.
What David Cameron and his colleagues do not understand is that a referendum on independence is an exciting opportunity for the people of Scotland, not a party political game, and we owe it to the people who voted in May to stick to our word.
The unwise intervention of Westminster politicians seeking to dictate the timing and questions of a referendum for which they have no mandate demonstrates that the only confusion on the issue is amongst the anti-independence parties who don’t seem able to accept that as a government we will stick to the promise we made to the electorate.
Instead of putting themselves into a state of disarray the anti-independence voices at Westminster and the prime minister would be wise to hold to the position that they have all previously acknowledged, that the Scottish Parliament has the right to hold the referendum and that all these matters will be determined by the people and parliament of Scotland.
And the PM’s argument that this is all about economic uncertainty does not hold up to scrutiny. When the same claim was made by George Osborne and Danny Alexander neither could produce any evidence to back it up.
The prime minister himself unveiled record new investment in the North Sea by BP and the Scottish government has worked hard to attract new investment into Scotland from global companies such as Avaloq, Dell, Gamesa, Amazon, Doosan Power Systems and Michelin, to name just a few.
So what should the UK government be doing? In May the SNP said one of our priorities would be improving the economic powers of the Scotland Bill – a piece of Westminster legislation that currently does little to transfer the levers of economic growth.
Last month a Scottish parliamentary committee sent the UK government our recommendations for enhancing that legislation and for limiting the damage it will do. Next week the House of Lords will begin to discuss the bill.While David Cameron interferes with Scotland’s referendum he has yet to confirm if he will make the changes Scotland is asking for to his own legislation.
Instead of sabre-rattling on the referendum, the UK government should be amending and improving the Scotland Bill to give the Scottish Parliament the economic and financial powers so we can do something about the disastrous impact of Tory/Lib Dem policies in Scotland.
Whatever the prime minister and his colleagues do, independence will be decided by the people of Scotland in a referendum taking place in the second half of this parliamentary term.
The anti-independence parties will have their case to make – once they’ve worked it out – but that case is increasingly damaged by blundering interventions seeking to dictate terms to the Scottish people and their democratically elected Scottish Parliament as voters contrast the behaviour of the Tories and their allies with the Scottish government’s commitment to the people of Scotland.
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• Scottish Labour leader: “I want the referendum to be held as quickly as possible” – Johann Lamont MSP, January 9th 2012
• Salmond tells Westminster it’s time to end interference in Scotland – Ed Jacobs, October 24th 2011
• Super-confident Salmond has the air of a man who seems untouchable – Ed Jacobs, September 8th 2011
• Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: Alex Salmond – Ed Jacobs, September 3rd 2011
• What do the SNP mean by “independence”? – Ed Jacobs, May 16th 2011
• The five steps to Scottish independence – Professor Robert Hazell, May 7th 2011
• Vote 2011: SNP outline vision “for a better Scotland” – Alex Salmond, April 24th 2011