SNP MP challenges "stronger together" claims
Speaking ahead of a conference on the Economics of Scottish Independence at the British Banker’s Association in London this evening (Thursday), SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP, who will set out the positive economic case for independence, challenged the anti-independence parties to come clean on their “stronger together” claims .
Mr Hosie laid down the gauntlet with examples in key reserved policy areas - defence, pensions, energy and the oil industry – which illustrate how decisions being made at UK level were working against Scotland’s best interests.
Mr Hosie said:
“The SNP have been putting a positive case for independence and we will continue to promote our vision of a fairer, greener and more prosperous Scotland. But the anti-independence soundbite that we are somehow “stronger together” cannot go unchallenged.
“The debate needs to be based on facts, not fiction, and the facts show that Scotland is being undersold by the current set-up.
“On defence, how can we be stronger together when Scotland has only 4 of 148 major regular army units based in its territory? We have seen a disproportionate decline in Scotland’s defence footprint, with an underspend of over 5.6 bn and the loss of more than more than 11,000 jobs over the last decade. That’s not stronger together – that’s being sold short.
“On pensions, where is the strength in a union when the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander effectively threatens the Scottish Government with budget cuts if it doesn’t impose UK reforms on the Scottish public sector, restricting what it can do with its own workforce? That’s not stronger together – that’s being held over a barrel.
“On energy – how can it be in Scotland’s interests to charge for transmission based on distance from population centres, so a generator in Aberdeenshire is charged £21.49 per kw to connect to the grid, while a London-based generator receives a subsidy of £6.85? This policy is damaging rural Scotland’s vast renewables potential. That’s not stronger together, but being hung out to dry.
“And on the oil industry, the Treasury’s cash cow, what did Scotland gain from the decision to unilaterally hike up the supplementary charge from 20% to 32%, threatening a crucial industry for a quick buck? No independent Scottish Government would ever treat the industry in this way. That’s crass economic foolishness, not strength.
“These and countless other examples provide evidence that the best people to make decisions about Scotland are the people who live here. Scotland will be stronger when all policy decisions are made in the Scottish Parliament..
“After independence Scotland and the rest of the UK will all benefit from a new partnership of equals on these isles, based on strong social bonds and mutual respect.”