Scottish Independence: SNP launches White Paper

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VETERAN independence campaigner Margo MacDonald today urged people not to be deterred from voting Yes just because they didn’t like some of the policies in the SNP’s White Paper published today.

The Lothian MSP said next year’s referendum was about the principle of Scotland “reclaiming her sovereignty” – and if the vote was Yes, specific policy issues would be decided when voters elected the first post-independence Scottish Government.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is hoping for a Yes vote. Picture: Robert Perry

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is hoping for a Yes vote. Picture: Robert Perry

First Minister Alex Salmond and deputy Nicola Sturgeon unveiled the 670-page White Paper, their blueprint for an independent Scotland, at a launch in Glasgow. It sets out details of the SNP’s plans for keeping the pound by joining a currency union with the rest of the UK, as well as getting rid of Trident, retaining membership of the European Union and a range of other policies.

Ms Sturgeon promised that it would answer “all your questions” about an independent Scotland.

She said: “Our message to the people of Scotland is ­simple: read this guide, ­compare it with any alternative future for Scotland and make up your own mind.”

Ms MacDonald opposes the idea of a sterling union and wants Scotland to have its own currency.

But she said people could disagree with particular ­policies spelled out in today’s document and still vote for independence. She said: “They don’t need to agree with ­everything in the White Paper.

“There are two levels of choice: which country they are going to live in, Great ­Britain or ­Scotland, and then the choice about which party they are going to trust to be the ­government in the Scottish Parliament.”

She said many issues could be deferred until the 2016 ­elections.

“We won’t know until then who is going to form the government, but then we will be able to be a bit more realistic about what is going to happen on things like the currency.

“The important thing is people realise there will be a choice. There will be a range of ways of tackling the economic challenges and the currency question; there will be different ideas on health and education and so on.”

An opinion poll at the ­weekend showed 38 per cent support for independence and 47 per cent against, meaning a swing of just five per cent who decide to vote yes could lead to Scotland leaving the UK.

Ms MacDonald said she believed the polls would start to shift in favour of independence in the wake of the White Paper, as the debate gathered pace.

“That’s what the hairs on the back of my neck tell me,” she said. “I have never thought we would lose.

“I think there is a very strong positive case and I think the alternative is appalling.”

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The White Paper is now online - click this link to read it in full