In an independent Scotland the Scottish Government proposes that children will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare each week - the same number of hours as a child spends in school. This transformational change will dramatically improve the employment opportunities available to women, parents and families all across Scotland. This policy is just one of many which will allow an independent Scotland to become the country that we all know it can be.
For more details go to www.scotreferendum.com, which includes a very useful search function and online Q&A.
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The SNP is today (Tuesday) urging the people of Scotland to consider carefully the choice of two futures facing them in next year’s independence referendum, as the Scottish Government published its landmark Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an independent Scotland.
The 670-page document - the most comprehensive blueprint for independence ever produced by any country ahead of an independence vote - was launched to an audience of hundreds of journalists from across the globe.
Scotland’s Future also contains a comprehensive Question and Answer section, running to more than 200 pages, providing answers to 650 questions on independence.
The guide shows how Scotland will move from a Yes vote on September 18th next year, toward its independence on March 24th 2016 – ahead of the first elections in an independent Scotland. It also describes the huge financial savings that can be made – including half a billion pounds on defence spending due to Westminster's underspend in Scotland, and savings from no longer contributing to the funding of the Westminster Parliament.
Besides addressing the various questions asked about what independence offers, Scotland's Future also outlines the Scottish Government's ambitious plans to use the powers to make Scotland a fairer, more prosperous country – should the SNP win the first elections of an independent Scotland in 2016.
At the heart of this is a transformational increase in childcare provision that would help more people into work – particularly women – and provide up to 35,000 jobs in the process. This only becomes possible with the powers offered by independence, because only an independent Scotland would have the resources to make it happen. Currently all the increased tax revenues that would help make the policy affordable would go to the Westminster Treasury, rather than staying in Scotland.
As well as guarantees on the minimum wage and a ‘triple lock’ on pension increases to ensure that they rise at least in line with the cost of living, the Scottish Government also proposes new measures to permanently reduce energy bills by 5% and ensure basic rate tax allowances and credits to rise in line at least with inflation.
The SNP has said that there is a clear choice between two futures open to the people of Scotland – the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a fairer, more prosperous Scotland, or the relentless negativity of the No campaign, who never have a positive word to say.
Commenting, SNP MSP Bruce Crawford – who convenes the Scottish Parliament’s Referendum (Scotland) Bill Committee – said:
"This landmark document takes the independence debate into a new phase. No country in history is as well-equipped as Scotland is to move towards independence, and even the staunchest opponents of Yes now accept that Scotland has got what it takes to be an independent country.
“Not only does Scotland’s Future outline a clear process in which Scotland can move from a Yes vote next September to our independence day on March 24th 2016. It also offers a set of exciting policies, using the powers of an independent Parliament, designed to improve opportunities for people Scotland, should the SNP win the first elections in 2016 - including using full access to the resources of Scotland to bring about a transformational change in childcare provision.
"And we set out a timetable to remove Trident nuclear weapons from Scotland within the term of the first independent parliament.
“The people of Scotland now have a clear choice in next year’s referendum between two futures – a choice between the fairer, more prosperous Scotland offered by a Yes vote, and the relentless negativity of the No campaign, who are unable to offer anything positive. The fact that the No campaign were commenting on the document before they could even have seen it renders their position ridiculous, and by definition ill-informed.
"The No side never have a positive word to say. It's time they answered the questions about what would happen to Scotland in the event of a No vote.
“Scotland’s future is now well and truly in Scotland’s hands – and it is time for all of us to grasp the historic opportunity offered by a YES vote on September 18th next year.”
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has been accused of letting the cat out of the bag when it comes to the Barnett formula, after stating on Sunday Politics Scotland that “there will be no action taken on Barnett until the economy has stabilised again”.
With his cabinet colleague Chancellor George Osborne recently claiming that his economic policies were delivering “certainty, stability and competitiveness” and that the UK was on a “path for prosperity”, it is clear that the Westminster Government already believes the economy has stabilised – putting scrapping the Barnett formula firmly on the agenda.
The Holtham Commission in Wales previously indicated that scrapping the Barnett formula could see Scotland's budget cut by £4 billion in a single year, a move that would have a devastating impact on communities across Scotland.
On the same programme, Alistair Carmichael was also unable to guarantee that the UK will still be in the EU by the end of this decade, confirming that the biggest threat to Scotland's membership of the organisation comes from remaining part of the Westminster system.
Commenting, SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said:
“Alistair Carmichael has well and truly let the cat out of the bag with his comments on Barnett and Europe.
“With his colleague George Osborne claiming that he has delivered stability and that the UK is on a 'pathway to prosperity', then clearly moves to scrap the Barnett formula in Westminster are at hand – which would result in Scotland's budget being cut by billions of pounds.
“As if that wasn't enough of a gaffe, Alistair Carmichael also confirmed that the biggest threat to Scotland's membership of the EU comes from Westminster with his inability to say whether the UK would be part of the EU at the end of the decade.
“Once again we are seeing No campaign politicians saying one thing in Westminster and something else when they're speaking to Scotland.
“Scotland already contributes 9.9% of UK tax revenues but receives 9.3% of public spending and has contributed more per head to the Treasury than the UK average in each of the last 32 years.
“The moves afoot to scrap Barnett in the event of a No vote show that the dismal future on offer to Scotland would see our budget cut by billions of pounds, disadvantaging Scotland even further under the Westminster system.
“Only a YES vote for Scotland to gain full responsibility over our tax and spending decisions will ensure that people in Scotland get a fair deal and that all of our own resources are put to work to benefit people in Scotland.”
Fresh calls from the Local Government Association to scrap the Barnett formula have made it clearer than ever that a No vote next year would lead to severe cuts in Scotland’s budget.
The calls from the Local Government Association follows the visit to Scotland of Carwyn Jones, who has previously echoed calls for the scrapping of the Barnett formula in a move which the Holtham Commission indicated could see Scotland’s budget cut by £4 billion in a single year!
This morning on GMS, the Welsh First Minister was asked whether his calls to scrap the Barnett Formula would mean more or less funding for Scotland. He replied: “It’s difficult to tell, what we do know because we’ve looked at it purely from a Welsh perspective is that we’re under funded by £300 million. From my point of view, as long as that under funding is dealt with it doesn’t really matter in terms of what happens in Scotland.”
Scotland currently generates 9.9% of UK tax revenues, but receives just 9.3% of UK public spending and has paid more in tax per head than the rest of the UK for all of the last thirty years.
Commenting, SNP MSP Stuart McMillan said:
“These calls from the Local Government Association are the latest evidence that a No vote next year would see the axe taken to Scotland’s budget.
“With politicians from across the Westminster parties lining up to cut Scotland’s budget, there can be no escaping the dismal reality of what a No vote means for Scotland.
“The Holtham Commission has made clear that Scotland could see £4 billion taken straight out of our finances, which would have an absolutely devastating impact on services and communities across the length and breadth of Scotland.
“For Labour's Carwyn Jones to claim that the impact this would have on Scotland doesn’t really matter is frankly breath-taking, and speaks volumes about the attitude of the No campaign.
“Scotland already more than pays our own way in the UK, and these appalling moves to inflict severe cuts to Scotland’s budget can only be avoided by Scotland gaining full responsibility for our own tax and spending decisions.
“Only a YES vote next year will protect Scotland from the billions of pounds of cuts that would inevitably come our way if Scotland remains tied to the Westminster system.”
Carwyn Jones has been challenged to use his visit to Scotland to set out the specific cuts to Scotland’s budget that he wants to see happen in the event of a No vote, after the Holtham Commission previously suggested Scotland’s budget could be cut by £4 billion in a single year.
The Welsh First Minister is set to address an audience at the University of Edinburgh today (Wednesday) on the future of the UK, having previously argued strongly that the Barnett formula should be abolished in its present form as part of moves to bring more powers to Wales. However, a report by the Independent Commission on Funding and Finance for Wales revealed that such moves could see Scotland’s budget slashed by £4 billion in a single year.
Scotland currently generates 9.9% of UK tax revenues, but receives just 9.3% of UK public spending. The prospect of changes to the Barnett formula would see further money taken from Scotland in order to boost spending in Wales – a move that Carwyn Jones should come clean with people in Scotland about.
Commenting, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said:
“Carywn Jones has never been shy about his desire to change the Barnett formula in a way that would disadvantage Scotland.
“The Welsh First Minister has the perfect opportunity to use his visit to Scotland to spell out to people here just how much he wants Scotland’s budget cut by if there is a No vote next year.
“With a Welsh Commission suggesting that Scotland’s funding could be cut by a staggering £4 billion in a single year, these are major cuts that are being proposed which would have a devastating impact on communities across Scotland.
“Scotland already more than pays its own way in the UK, but the dismal future being offered by the No campaign would see people in Scotland disadvantaged even further.
“With all of the UK parties lining up to cut Scotland’s budget if there’s a No vote, only the full powers of an independent Scotland will ensure that all of Scotland’s resources are used to benefit people living here.
“The fairest solution for everyone is for Scotland to gain full control over our own tax and spending decisions and only a YES vote next year will secure that for people in Scotland.”
Comments by the chairman of the Labour Party in Scotland that the official No camp in the referendum is vote for no constitutional change have today been welcomed by the SNP.
Jackson Cullinane also said that Labour activists in Scotland "simply cannot stomach" working alongside the Tories and that his party in Scotland had been "bounced" into the No campaign, and warned the pact could "haunt Labour" at future elections.
Mr Cullinane's comments come on the same day as former Lord Provost of Glasgow Alex Mosson revealed his support for independence and two weeks after former Strathclyde regional council leader Sir Charles Gray said he was backing a Yes vote.
SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said:
"This attack on the No campaign by Johann Lamont's own party chairman is a challenge to her authority.
"It shows that Labour are split from top to bottom by their alliance with the Tories. The reality is that the No campaign is Tory-led and Westminster-led.
"History tells us that promises for better devolution and more powers in return for a No vote are quickly broken by Westminster - which is why a YES vote next September is vital.
"A No vote is a vote for no more powers. All Scotland got after the 1979 referendum was 18 years of Tory Government we didn’t vote for.
"More and more Labour supporters and prominent Labour figures - including Glasgow's former Labour Provost Alex Mosson and Charles Gray the former leader of Strathclyde Regional Council - recognise this fact which is why they are backing a Yes vote in next year’s referendum.”
The SNP has welcomed figures showing the number of young people claiming Job Seekers Allowance has fallen by 28.9 per cent – with the number of young people in jobs continuing to rise.
SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn recently highlighted figures showing a 25.73% drop in JSA claimants – which has now increased to 28.9%.
The number of young people moving into employment continues to be the highest of all nations in the UK – with the rate in Scotland at 56.6%, compared with 52.1% across the UK. The youth unemployment rate is now 20.9% compared to the UK’s 21.9%.
The Office for National Statistics figures also show Scotland has a higher jobs, lower unemployment and lower inactivity rate than the rest of the UK as a whole.
Employment has increased by 75,000 over the past year and 16,000 between July and September, with Scotland’s employment rate increasing by 0.7per cent to 72.8% against a UK rate of 71.8%.
Welcoming the figures, Mr Hepburn, said:
“These positive figures highlight the significant progress being made in Scotland. Whilst getting young people into jobs remains a challenge and something the SNP Government is tackling head on through schemes such as Opportunities for All, we must note that our youth employment rate is ahead of the UK as a whole and the number of young people in jobs continues to rise.
“The number of 16-19 year olds on the claimant count has fallen by 28.9%, which means 3,515 young people are no longer on the claimant count – that is something that must be welcomed.
“We are getting young people into work. The progress made by the SNP Government is reflected in these figures that show since 2008 we have seen a drop of 11.5% in the number of young people on the claimant count.
“Scotland has a higher employment, lower unemployment and lower inactivity rate than the rest of the UK as a whole.
“The number of people getting into work has steadily increased in each of the last 10 months and there has been a fall of 12,000 in youth unemployment over the year.
“These are all welcome signs of what the SNP Government has been able to achieve with the limited powers available to us. Yet with a Yes vote next year for the job creating powers of an independent Scotland, we can do even more to make Scotland a more prosperous country.”
The Scottish National Party have called on Scottish Labour to explain their absence at a vote in the House of Commons yesterday which could have scrapped the Bedroom Tax.
The opposition day debate was initiated by Labour yet 47 Labour MPs, including 10 Scottish Labour MPs and Midlothian's David Hamilton, failed to turn up for a vote that was lost by just 26 votes.
SNP spokesperson for Work and Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:
“Today we could have been talking about how the Bedroom Tax has been scrapped, but instead the question on the minds of many Scots is- where were they? Labour MPs need to explain their absence.
“Some may have very good reasons for missing the vote, but there can be no excuse for a quarter of Scotland's Labour MPs not turning up for a vote to scrap the Bedroom Tax that could have been won.
"It is now clearer than ever before that only with a Yes vote will we finally be able to get rid of the unjust bedroom tax and have a welfare state that reflects the views and votes of the people of Scotland."
The SNP has accused the UK government of a 'massive cover up' after hidden files revealed the Ministry of Defence blocked a potential oil boom in the west coast of Scotland in the 1980s.
The Sunday Post reports today that a cache of UK government documents, letters and internal briefings from the early 1980s confirm the MoD blocked exploration despite the "possibility of finding oil or gas".
The hidden files show three firms, including BP and the then state owned British National Oil Corporation, undertook seismic surveys in the area south of Arran and east of Kintyre in early 1981. They also show BP applied for a production licence in the same year but the MoD asked for no drilling rigs in this area.
SNP MSP for South Scotland Chic Brodie, who uncovered the files, said:
"We now have clear evidence the MoD in the early 1980s made it very clear to the Department of Energy it would not tolerate oil drilling and production in the Firth of Clyde.
"This is another McCrone-type deception of the potential use of Scotland's natural assets.
"I am angry that the people of Scotland have been deprived of the economic benefits and income that would have flowed from oil and gas production.
"This is yet another massive cover up by the UK government and the people of Scotland deserve so much better."
The SNP has said comments from the Nissan chief executive warning the UK about exiting the EU underlines how a 'No' vote is the only real threat to Scotland's place in Europe and the single market.
When asked how Nissan would react if the UK were to leave the EU, Carlos Ghosn said: "If anything has to change, we [would] need to reconsider our strategy and our investments for the future."
This flies in the face of comments from senior figures in the anti-independence campaign – including the Chancellor George Osborne - who have consistently asserted that the referendum and prospect of an independent Scotland are deterring inward investment in Scotland, despite the evidence that inward investment in Scotland has just hit a 15-year high.
Commenting, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson, said:
"These comments are clear - a No vote is the only threat to Scotland's place in the European Union and to investment.
"This blows another hole in claims from the anti-independence campaign that the referendum is deterring investment - when in fact the opposite is true.
“The latest Ernst and Young report shows that Scotland has achieved a 15-year high in inward investment projects, with extraordinary progress even on last year’s impressive figures.
“And yet throughout this entire period we have had senior politicians from the No campaign parties asserting, without a shred of evidence, that inward investment is being deterred.
“We now have the evidence and the reality – to quote from the Ernst and Young report there is ‘no sign of investors being deterred from coming to Scotland; if anything, the reverse appears to be true'.
“It is perfectly clear that the only threat to Scotland's EU membership comes from Westminster and its growing determination to pursue isolationism and withdrawal.
"The only way that people can safeguard Scotland and the Scottish economy from such damaging isolationism is with a YES vote for independence next September.”