By David Thomson
The Scottish Government has launched its much hyped White Paper at the Science Centre in Glasgow in front of the world’s press.
Both First Minister, Alex Salmond, and Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, launched the Scotland’s Future – Your Guide to an Independent Scotland ahead of next year’s referendum.
The 670-page document is said to be the ‘the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published.’ It offers the clear understanding of economic and social policy with childcare being at the heart of the guide.
Alex Salmond said: “This is the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published, not just for Scotland but for any prospective independent nation. But more than that, it is a mission statement and a prospectus for the kind of country we should be and which this government believes we can be. Our vision is of an independent Scotland regaining its place as an equal member of the family of nations – however, we do not seek independence as an end in itself, but rather as a means to changing Scotland for the better. This guide contains policies, which offer nothing less than a revolution in employment and social policy for Scotland with a transformational change in childcare at the heart of those plans. Our proposals will make it far easier for parents to balance work and family life and will allow many more people, especially women, to move into the workforce, fostering economic growth and helping to boost revenues – which will in itself help pay for the policy.”
Former Chancellor Alastair Darling, the head of the pro Union, Better Together campaign, responded to the White Paper and said: “With so much uncertainty and unanswered questions about the cost of independence, leaving the UK would be a huge leap in the dark – especially when we know that devolution works for Scotland. We can have the best of both worlds – a strong Scottish Parliament with the strength and opportunity of being part of a bigger United Kingdom.”
If the current SNP administration get’s re-elected, they have set out a series of pledges that would include:
- A transformation in childcare, helping more women into work and providing up to 35,000 jobs.
- A safe, triple-locked pension that meets Scotland’s needs and puts more money in the pockets of our pensioners.
- A guaranteed minimum wage that rises alongside the cost of living to make sure the lowest paid get a fair wage for a fair days work.
- Basic rate tax allowances and tax credits that will also rise at least in line with inflation.
- A change to the way ‘green levies’ are paid for – saving families around £70 a year on their energy bills.
- A fairer welfare system, including a halt to the rollout of Universal Credit and the abolition of the ‘Bedroom Tax’.
- A productivity and competitive boost to secure the position of Scottish business.
The First Minister will lead a debate at Holyrood this afternoon that will give MSP’s a chance to examine the document in more detail.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont questioned the benefits of a Independent Scotland. Interviewed on BBC Scotland Good Morning Scotland, Lamont said:”The assumption that simply by Scotland going it alone we will somehow be more radical, more progressive, is simply not true. We will still have to deal with the arithmetic of politics which is you have to fund things. What we seem to be getting from the Scottish government now is that we will cut taxes and at the same time we will improve services – that’s not credible.”