Nov 26 2013

 

 

 

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The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, has kicked off the campaign to obtain full independence for Scotland. The referendum will be held in the northern part of the British Isles on September 18. In kicking off the campaign, the Scottish National Party (SNP) issued a detailed 670 page plan for the future of an independent Scotland.

The BBC reports:

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has launched the SNP's independence blueprint, calling it a "mission statement" for Scotland's future.

The 670-page Scottish government white paper promised a "revolution" in social policy, with childcare at its heart.

On 18 September, Scots voters will be asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

It also pledged to tailor economic policy to Scottish businesses and industry.

Launching the paper, "Scotland's future: Your guide to an independent Scotland", in Glasgow, the first minister 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."

As well as making the case for independence, the white paper also set out a series of policy pledges which the SNP said it would pursue if elected as the government of an independent Scotland.

These included:

- Thirty hours of childcare per week in term time for all three and four-year-olds, as well as vulnerable two-year-olds.

- Trident nuclear weapons, currently based on the Clyde, removed within the first parliament.

- Housing benefit reforms, described by critics as the "bedroom tax" to be abolished, and a halt to the rollout of Universal Credit.

- Basic rate tax allowances and tax credits to rise at least in line with inflation.

- A safe, "triple-locked" pension system.

- Minimum wage to "rise alongside the cost of living".

The Scottish government said Scotland's finances were healthier than those of the UK, providing a strong foundation to put the focus of the referendum campaign on Scotland's future.

Mr Salmond said the list of policies would help address what he described as the "damage caused by the vast social disparities which have seen the UK become one of the most unequal societies in the developed world".

"We know we have the people, the skills and resources to make Scotland a more successful country," he added.

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"What we need now are the economic tools and powers to build a more competitive, dynamic economy and create more jobs.

"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.

The SNP government's critics said the white paper would be judged on whether it tackled concerns over issues like financial challenges.

For the UK government, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said there were huge question marks over some of the policies already revealed by the SNP.

He said it was "highly unlikely" the Scottish government's plan to keep the pound and retain the services of the Bank of England as part of a "currency union" with the rest of the UK would work, and said the SNP must set out a "Plan B".

The Scottish government's critics have also questioned its plan to get rid of Trident nuclear weapons - currently based on the Clyde - while being a member of Nato.

And they have said other SNP promises, on issues like pensions and welfare, are uncosted.