Strathclyde referendum groups clash over white paper

By Kenneth Watt

The two campaign groups in the referendum have clashed over the Scottish Government’s white paper, which launched last month and sets out what independence would mean for Scotland.

The 670 page document aims to answer questions that Scottish people have about what would happen should the ‘yes’ vote win in September 2014. First Minister Alex Salmond presented the blueprint at the Science Centre in Glasgow last month alongside his deputy Nicola Sturgeon.

The flagship pledges include free childcare for parents; scrapping the Trident nuclear submarine; reforming the taxation system; building a fairer welfare system; and replacing the BBC with a Scottish broadcasting service.

The pro-independence group Yes Scotland have described the document as an ‘exciting, informative and visionary’ step forward in the constitutional debate.

Stephen Campbell, vice-convener of Yes Strathclyde, said: “As students, we’re pleased that the white paper solidifies the Scottish Government’s commitment to free higher education, which shows that they see students as crucial to the future success and prosperity of an independent Scotland.

“We also welcome the reintroduction of the post-study work visa which will allow international students to work for two years after graduation.”

However, opposition group Better Together Strathclyde’s Chair Scott Edgar believes that the plan will not go far enough to persuade voters. He said: “I think it’s short on answers to the questions that Scots have on the referendum. The Scottish Government need to have a costed paper before claiming these things are going to happen.”

His comments were echoed by Alastair Darling, leader of the national pro-Union campaign who said:

“Instead of a credible and costed plan, we have a wish-list of political promises without any answers on how Alex Salmond would pay for them.

“It is a fantasy to say we can leave the UK but still keep all the benefits of UK membership. The White Paper is a work of fiction. It is thick with false promises and meaningless assertions.”

Ex-MSP and independence supporter Dennis Canavan, who holds an honorary degree from Strathclyde, said: “I am confident that as more and more people become engaged in the debate and learn about the unique opportunities that a Yes vote promises, the more they will see that independence makes sense for them, their families and our country.”

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