Scottish Independence Debate / Independence white paper “a turning point”

THE SCOTTISH government’s independence white paper marks a turning point in the referendum debate, according to the local Yes Shetland campaign.

Spokesman Danus Skene said that Scottish independence offered the islands a new opportunity to claim appropriate control over its own wealth and development. 

His views were echoed by highlands and islands list MSP Jean Urquhart, who accused the No campaign of dismissing the white paper before they had even read it.

Skene said Scotland has been going through a “very negative period” of unionists frightening Scots that independence presents “unwise risks”.

Yet “Project Fear” had failed, he claimed, saying that support for Yes was growing while the No vote appeared to be static. 

He said Scots were progressively realising the risks of remaining part of the UK, citing benefits reform and the increasing gap between rich and poor, which sees Britain as one of the most unequal societies in the developed world. 


“The prospects for opportunity and stability in employment, secure pensions payments, or the maintenance of a free NHS are seen as poorer within the UK than if Scotland manages its own priorities,” he said.

Central to this week’s white paper was the promise of a written constitution, specifying the rights and responsibilities of all Scottish citizens, which would of special interest to folk in Shetland, he said.

“This will not be a government document of any party, but the product of the widest possible public participation.

“Shetland has a particular interest in constitutional reform. By ‘western’ standards, both the UK and Scotland are unacceptably centralised political systems, in which small elites determine the fate of the rest of us.

“The present Scottish government has already responded positively to the Our Islands Our Future initiative that involves Shetland, setting up an Islands Areas Ministerial Working Group to consider greater autonomy.

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“This must be followed through vigorously, and the decentralisation that is involved entrenched in the constitution of an independent Scotland.”

Hitting back at the “Nay Sayers” for their “scaremongering”, Skene said Scotland already pays more tax per head of population than the rest of the UK. 

Average wealth levels both sides of the border are very similar such that independence does not involve either side robbing the other, and Scotland is a marginally greater contributor to the UK public purse. 

“We can and will afford to look after ourselves in a fairer, more egalitarian and more efficient manner than can be contemplated within the UK. We will set our own priorities. 

“Independence is about setting our own agenda. Scotland, through whatever party or parties it elects to power, will set its own priorities and take its due place in the world. 

“We can look forward to a balanced and co-operative relationship with England, Wales and Ireland, the other countries of the British Isles. 


“Scottish independence offers Shetland new opportunity to claim appropriate control over its own wealth and development. We must take the opportunity.” 

Meanwhile highlands and islands list MSP Jean Urquhart said the white paper was “a detailed, honest assessment about the case for independence, how we get there and what we do once we get there”. 

She said the white paper’s publication marked “a palpable shift” in the independence debate, that would “add flesh to the bones of the basic principles of democracy, fairness and prosperity that drive many Yes supporters”. 

She said: “In particular, I’m glad to see that the Scottish government is making a real effort to make the white paper as widely available as possible, with a full-scale information campaign and the offer of free hard copies for every citizen. 


“This precedent was set by the Scotland Office for the 1997 devolution referendum and makes eminent sense given the importance of the decision that faces every one of us. 

“For the No campaign to complain about this open process – combined with anecdotal tales of local No groups refusing to take part in local events to prevent the Yes campaign getting their message across – feeds into a worrying picture of a side that at best is still refusing to believe that the referendum is happening and at worst is trying to prevent any meaningful debate taking place.

“I hope that, over the coming days and weeks, the white paper is digested, debated and discussed in households, offices, cafes and factory floors up and down the country in the manner it deserves. Scotland deserves nothing less.” 

The government’s independence white paper can be downloaded here


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