Alastair Darling who was Chancellor when the UK's economic crisis
arrived prefers not to lead the independence No campaign
by Jamie Mann
Scottish independence: Scottish independence campaign springs to life
Scottish independence Yes and No campaign rivalry has already intensified since the launch of the pro-independence 'Yes Scotland' campaign on Friday. In particular, Sunday's BBC Scotland’s Big Debate 'Choosing Scotland’s Future’ was a sign of the heated debate to come between the rival camps.
One recurring factor which has generated controversy is the referendum date. Alex Salmond announced in January, that the referendum date would be in Autumn 2014, however anti-independence groups had wished to see the referendum far sooner.
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The Unionist parties appear to have accepted Salmond’s timescale with Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Michael Moore now saying that the timescale of almost two-and-a-half years is 'no barrier'. Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling also said on Sky’s Murnaghan programme on Sunday that he would not be seeking a place in Labour’s Shadow Cabinet at Westminster, due to his role in the 'No' campaign and the autumn 2014 schedule.
SNP Campaign Director Angus Robertson MP said:
"After a year of huffing and puffing and trying to dictate the timescale of Scotland’s referendum from Westminster, Mr Moore and the anti-independence parties have collapsed in a heap over the date.
"It is a very welcome step forward, but begs the question of why they spent such a long time making a fuss about something that even the Prime Minister says he is ‘not fussed’ about.
"In its submission on the referendum, the Electoral Commission drew particular attention to the need to allow proper time to prepare for the referendum, and we agree. The Commission’s positive comments on the Scottish Government’s proposed timetable were echoed by many others, such as the STUC.
"Having lost on the process, this is a serious blow to the credibility of the No campaign in terms of the substance of the debate on Scotland’s future.
"We have always said that we have no objection to Westminster extending a ‘section 30’ power to the Scottish Parliament, but it must be on the basis of no strings attached – and now that they have conceded on timing, the anti-independence parties should stop trying to dictate other terms for Scotland's referendum”.
The SNP also come under criticism for apparently lacking coherent answers to important independence questions on key areas such as security and defence and the practicalities of using the Bank of England as a lender of last resort.
Speaking after BBC Scotland’s Big Debate, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:
“Tonight’s debate was supposed to answer some of the big questions of what separation would mean for Scotland, but we got precious little in the way of information from the SNP.
“No answers on the economy, no answers on defence and nothing but blind assertion on the basics like currency, EU membership and welfare.
“The studio audience – just like everyone else in the country – is seeking clarity on the issues so they can make an informed choice, but there is a real lack of information being provided about what a separate Scotland would actually look like.
“The referendum is not like an election where, if you don’t like the outcome, you can change your mind in five years’ time.
“It has the potential to affect the whole country for all time – without answers; the SNP is asking Scots to take a shot in the dark”.
The debate featured SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Tory Leader Ruth Davidson, Scottish Green Co-convenor Patrick Harvie and deputy Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, with the SNP and the Greens for Independence and Labour and the Tories against.
Ms Sturgeon said that Scotland would automatically be a part of the EU without having to adopt the Euro as a currency, which she said was the legal opinion of the European Court and former senior officials in the European Commission. Though Ms Davidson called this “wishful thinking” and said that applying for EU membership would involve accepting the currency.
The SNP currently favour a continuation of Sterling as an independent Scotland’s currency inviting criticism over how independence Scotland can be without the most important economic tools of statehood such as setting interest rates.
While the debate appeared to consist of Nationalists versus Unionists, there were still some discrepancies between allies in the debate.
The Scottish Greens Co-convenor expressed some uncertainty about an independent currency.
Mr Harvie said:
"There are problems with a currency union without a political union, and even although Scotland and the rest of the UK are closer together in terms of their economy at the moment, in reality if we were independent they would diverge.
"If the SNP want to make a case that we should stay in Sterling and that Sterling should become a multi-state currency zone, I think we need attached to that some kind of timescale that would move us away from that.
"It might take 10 years, but I think we should be willing to talk about whether Scotland as an independent country can have an independent currency as well."
The debate also saw common enemies, Labour and the Tories, united in favour of maintaining the United Kingdom.
Deputy Labour leader, Anas Sarwar MP argued that the discussion should not be distorted by rivalries and party politics.
Mr Sarwar said:
"I don't want this referendum to turn into a false choice between who loves Scotland and who hates the Tories. The truth is we all love Scotland, and I'm sorry Ruth but most of us hate the Tories."
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As for the debate it was frustrating to watch as an aggressive audience desperate to claim their moment of fame by sticking it to a politician [mostly wee Nikki] and demanding a finacial balance sheet for the years 2020 to 3000 were allowed to control the debate.I thought that the role of the audience was to ask questions.
Also did anyone count how many times the F.M’s name was mentioned even though he was not there. This is part of the Britnat ploy of demonising Alec Salmond and presenting the whole issue of constitutional change as being the “mad plan” of one person namely the F.M.
As for Patrick Harvie I will just leave it by saying he did not do the case for Independence any favours and the only time he did any real good was on the issue of Trident.
With two of these so called big debates having been shown its obvious that they have been used to highlight the four points that the Britnats have identfied that they feel they can attack the pro-independence campaign on, so expect the rest of these debates to be a repeat of the first two.
On a score of ten on how well the arguments for independence were put forward I would give it a three, this is no reflection on wee Nikki she is in the difficult position having to give answers to question an audience who have been primed by months of Britnat propaganda and demand ten second soundbite answers to questions that take a lot more time to answer in depth whilst being constantly interupted on this occasion by Sarwar and Davidson and Lordy Wallace on the last debate and still present herself as not being impolite and pushy.
I dont see that there is much worth in these debates for the yes campaign and I hope that they have been keeping their powder dry and have quite a few aces up their sleeve for a later date