Policies for a “new Scottish currency” must be clearly stated in the long-awaited White Paper for Scottish independence, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael noted earlier this week during a speech in Inverness.
It was Carmichael’s first constitutional speech since becoming the Scottish Secretary, and he used the platform to warn that the White Paper, due to be published later in November, must be clear and factual “rather than making empty promises.”
“We cannot be offered a prospectus of ‘it will be alright on the night,’” he warned.
The SNP Government’s blueprints for independence must also clearly state the costs of creating a new Scottish state – including the price of pensions.
“The White Paper has to tell us how an independent Scotland would fill the black hole,” he noted.
He also told the audience that the current debate was not about patriotism, but rather having a realistic picture of the factors at stake.
He asserted individuals do not become a “better Scot” because they support independence.
First Minister Alex Salmond’s assentation that Scotland would use the pound in a “sterling union” after independence as the pound was “as much Scotland’s as it is the rest of the UK’s” is not supported by international law.
This has led many to ask for a sound “Plan B” option on currency to be highlighted in the White Paper, as the current plan could not lawfully work.
“The bottom line is that a currency union may not be in the interests of Scotland or the continuing UK”
Carmichael noted, “and it is highly unlikely to be agreed … because it wouldn’t work.”
Another major bone of contention has been pensions. The Scottish Government has stated pensions would be fully protected, and after a “Yes” vote, the Scottish people could claim theirs earlier.
However, the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) has warned that after independence, pensions would be more costly and with less funding; prompting the caution that many schemes may have to close.
Lastly, in addition to outlining a thorough analysis of the cost of creating a new state, the SNP has been asked to provide a thorough analysis over the many areas it cannot guarantee, including on EU membership, and the division of assets with the rest of the UK.
In response to the speech, SNP party member John Swinney, the Finance Minister, told the BBC that the UK Government will never be satisfied with the SNP’s answers.
“[They] aren’t disinterested players in this, they’re political actors who are opposed to independence.”
“What the Scottish Government will do is set out a positive and constructive agenda,” he continued, regarding “how Scotland can establish herself as an independent country, a prosperous country and a fair country.”