After being told by the Tory Westminster government and No campaign in 2014 that the way to protect Scotland’s place in Europe was to vote No, we now find ourselves potentially being dragged out of the EU against our will – and unfortunately for people in Scotland, this is only the most obvious of the broken promises from the anti-independence parties.
Whether it was pledging that power lay with the people of Scotland, the Tory election promises of massive investment in Carbon Capture technology, Michael Fallon telling ship-workers on the Clyde that a No vote would protect their jobs, Ruth Davidson promising that voting No would guarantee our place in Europe, or promises of ‘extensive’ new powers – the reality has been damning indictment of the Westminster government’s real attitude towards Scotland.
The UK Westminster government has misled the people of Scotland so it’s no wonder that support for independence is continuing to grow.
The First Minister has rightly said that as we seek to protect Scotland’s place in Europe, all options are on the table, including a second independence referendum – and the choice facing voters would be very different from the choice in 2014.
The problem for the Westminster government is that with their long list of broken promises from last time round, people in Scotland won’t believe a word they say in any future referendum – which is one of the reasons more and more people are opening up to the opportunities of independence.
By Derek Mackay
Read just some of the No campaign’s broken promises
During the referendum, the Better Together website said: “Scotland enjoys membership of the EU because of our membership of the UK and if we no longer are members of the UK then it follows that we are no longer are part of the EU.”
In a televised STV debate on 2 September 2014, Ruth Davidson said: “I think it is disingenuous of Patrick [Harvie] to say that No means out and Yes means in, when actually the opposite is true. No means we stay in, we are members of the European Union.”
Better Together tweeted saying:
What is process for removing our EU citizenship? Voting yes. #scotdecides
— Better Together (@UK_Together) September 2, 2014
Now, Scotland faces being dragged out of the EU against our will in the aftermath of the UK’s vote for Brexit.
“Extensive” new powers
As part of “the Vow”, the then three Westminster party leaders promised “extensive new powers” for the Scottish Parliament.
What they legislated for left decisions about 70 per cent of Scottish taxes and 85 per cent of current UK welfare spending in Scotland in the hands of the Westminster government.
The STUC and numerous third sector groups expressed disappointment at the limitations of what was finally legislated for.
A YouGov poll in September 2015 found only 9 per cent of people in Scotland believe that the promise of “extensive new powers” was delivered in full.
“The Vow” clearly promised “the continuation of the Barnett allocation for resources”.
In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, fresh suggestions are being raised by the Tory-right wing and others about cutting Scotland’s budget further.
Brexit campaigner Lord Owen called for a vote to Leave the EU to be used as an excuse to axe the Barnett Formula, while Tory MEP David Bannerman tweeted that a “new Brexit Government should suspend the Barnett formula for Scotland” – raising the spectre of cuts to Scotland’s budget.
Tory leadership candidate Michael Gove has again raised the prospect of axing the Barnett Formula.
Before the referendum, the No campaign said jobs in shipyards would be under threat if there was a Yes vote. One leaflet said “Separation Shuts Shipyards” and made the promise that “Govan and Scotstoun will get the order for 13 Type-26 frigates from the Royal Navy”.
— Better Together (@UK_Together) June 14, 2013
However, on 7 November 2015, the Scotsman reported that the programme could be slashed because funding was required to pay for Trident.
On 23 November 2015, the UK Government announced the number of frigates would be reduced from thirteen to eight.
Public sector jobs
Before the referendum, the Scotland Office issued a press release boasting that the UK Government protects civil service jobs in Scotland.
Information from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, published this year, shows that between 2011 and 2015, there has been a greater fall in UK Civil Service employment in Scotland than in any other UK nation – falling by 17.5 per cent in Scotland, compared to 12.4 per cent in England, 9.3 per cent in Wales and 16.1 per cent in Northern Ireland.
Before the referendum it was claimed that, within the UK, HMRC delivered a ‘jobs dividend’ in Scotland.
Before the referendum, the No campaign stated that “we are better placed to support the most vulnerable in Scotland” with a No vote.
As part of his July 2015 budget, George Osborne announced £12 billion cuts and changes to welfare and benefits. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) said the budget was an attack on the poorest and most vulnerable people in communities and that the Chancellor was “demonstrating a cruel disregard for the impact this will have on hundreds of thousands of people’s lives”. The Child Poverty Action Group said the budget cuts damaged economic security of working families “with higher child poverty for millions and lower taxes for the better off”.
At PMQs David Cameron argued for a No vote on basis that “…when it comes to vital industries like green technology, the combination of a green investment bank sponsored by the United Kingdom Government and the many natural advantages that there are in Scotland can make this a great industry for people in Scotland—but we will do that only if we keep our country together”.
On 7 April 2014 Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said: “The broad shoulders of the United Kingdom is unlocking the power of Scotland to take its place as one of the world’s great energy hubs – generating energy and generating jobs”.
On 18 June 2015, after the referendum, the BBC reported: “Scotland could lose £3bn in investment because of a UK government decision to exclude new onshore wind farms from a subsidy scheme a year earlier than planned, an industry body has said.”
Before the referendum, the UK Government stated: “Scotland benefits from other competitions and grants provided by the UK Government and the wider UK consumer and tax base, such as a programme to support the commercialisation of carbon capture and storage”
This commitment to a £1billion investment in CCS was also set out in the Conservative’s 2015 manifesto.
The UK Government cancelled this investment six months before it was due to be awarded. Peterhead power station was one of two projects bidding for the investment.
Before the referendum, Scotland was told that we were an equal part of the UK ‘family of nations’ and were urged to ‘lead not leave’ the UK.
The morning after the referendum David Cameron announced English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) – creating the situation where Scottish MPs cannot properly consider the ‘Barnett consequentials’ on legislation deemed English only.