Launch of Scottish Government’s white paper on Scottish independence

scotlands-futureThis morning the SNP is launching the Scottish Government’s white paper on Scottish independence. It is 670 pages long and can be downloaded here.

Yesterday the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury minister,Danny Alexander, who is, of course, a Scottish MP, has written to Alex Salmond, First Minister in the Scottish Parliament, to warn him of the consequences of independence. He wrote:

The White Paper published tomorrow must address the tax rises or spending cuts required to balance the books in an independent Scotland.

Even under the most optimistic scenario the Institute for Fiscal Studies considered, in 2021-22 an independent Scotland could have to find permanent tax increases or spending cuts that would be equivalent to £3 billion in today’s terms.

I asked Treasury officials to look at this. They calculate than an eight percentage point rise in the basic rate of income tax would mean an average increase for basic rate taxpayers in Scotland of around £1,000 a year.

Last week the Institute for Fiscal Studies had claimed that “Independent Scotland would face tougher long-run fiscal challenge than the UK as a whole


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Robert Wootton 26th Nov '13 - 11:32am

    The problem with the analyses of the Treasury and the Institute of Fiscal studies is that they are looking at the existing economic system.
    If an independent Scotland established an entirely different economic system, it could attract trillions of dollars of inward investment from the global capital markets and also markedly increase the disposable income of the lowest paid workers in the economy. Thus invalidating the conclusions of those analyses.

  • So Danny Alexander tells us – “I asked Treasury officials to look at this. They calculate that an eight percentage point rise in the basic rate of income tax would mean an average increase for basic rate taxpayers in Scotland of around £1,000 a year.”

    I would have thought that Treasury officials would have more important things to do than to provide Danny Alexander with debating points.

    Is this not another abuse of power following on from the pointless government inquiry into the Rev Flowers ?

    Even if Danny Alexander cannot come up with his own party political ammunition he should not be wasting civil servants’ time.

  • Re Robert Wootton’s comment — yes, in Faerie Land you could boost spending, cut taxes, leave the UK and keep all the benefits associated with it. But not many people will believe you.

  • I am an Englishman who is very proud for the Scott’s to gain independence, people need to do what’s best for them and there future. I don’t agree with half the political debates that are in the media, infact it’s not helping the situation, this is not a debate about who is better who who will lose out. Scotland will survive and so will England, hopefully as growing nations they will aid each other. Scotland is a beautiful place and hope that it’s independence makes it an even better. In no way is the English politicians a reflection of how the English people see or feel about the Scottish or it’s independence. To be honest I see it as a loss to England as they offer so much. They are lovely People and if there proud to gain independence then as an Englishman I support you all.

  • Well said Zack!
    I first joined the Liberal Party nearly 40 years ago, before I did I researched its history. It was the only party to support ‘Home Rule all round’ from Gladstone onwards. At that time we also supported a federal Britain in the European Community (as we called the EU back then).
    Now it seems today’s mantra is “we’re all Unionists now” – well I’m not and never have been! As an Englishman I’m relaxed about the outcome, if Scotland wants to stay in the UK – fine, if it wants to be an independent nation in the EU – that’s fine too. There will still be many cultural and family links between the two countries, just as there is between England and Ireland, and probably a common travel area too. Indeed similar links still exist between Sweden and Denmark, the Czech republic and Slovakia, Serbia and Montengro etc. despite their status as separate nations.

    Too many unionist MPs (including I’m sorry to say Lib Dem Unionists) seem to be implying that Scotland voting ‘yes’ will mean someone will use a giant band saw along Hardian’s Wall! I just hope their silly scaremongering if repeated for the next 10 months proves counter-productive. The important thing is that England and Scotland remain friends, and respect each other as neighbouring countries in the EU, and we can be so whether or not we both remain in the UK or not.

  • I agree with Zack and Steve.
    Steve Comer 29th Nov ’13 – 10:18pm
    Now it seems today’s mantra is “we’re all Unionists now”

    I too am saddened by the unionist stance of Liberal Democrat MPs.
    I am not sure that Liberal Democrat members and supporters in Scotland are happy with “we’re all Unionists now”

    I would enthusiastically vote for independence for Scotland. Of course the people of Scotland should have self-determination. The people of Jamaica, Ghana, Kenya, Cyprus, Malta, Nigeria, Malawi, Malaysia, Singapore, etc etc have all achieved independence during my lifetime. Liberals did not oppose those peoples achieving self-determination – so why are we Unionists now? Have we learned nothing from Ireland over the last 100 years?

    Small islands in the Pacific and the Carribean with much smaller populations than Scotland and far fewer natural resources have been granted independence. Scotland is more than capable of making a real success of independence and by so doing can help the people in the rest of the UK throw off the semi-feudal, backward-looking constitutional constipation that the UK suffers from.

    Friends in Scotland seem to be more than a little fed up with the patronising, infantile coverage of the debate by the BBC and the London media. All this nonsense about the pound sterling, the flag, which regiment soldiers from Scotland might pick is pathetic.

    Liberal Democrat MPs would be better distancing themselves from the unionist dinosaurs.

  • Steve Comer 1st Dec '13 - 2:45am

    Good to see from Zack and John’s piece that not every Lib Dem has swallowed the neo-Unionist line!
    I really hope that there is a proper ‘Liberal Democrats for YES’ campaign set up, at the moment there seems to be a Facebook group but not much else. Not everyone in the party is happy with rowing in behind Alistair Darling and the Better Together campaign, and I hope more of us within the party who feel we’re on the wrong track on this one will come out and say so.
    By the way I watched Question Time on Thursday and found it interesting that the three Unionist politicians on the panel were all negative, and nit picking about detail. Singer Eddi Reader was the only one on the panel who seemed to have any vision and passion for the debate, she could turn out to be one of the yes campaigns biggest assets. (Perhaps she could also record a duet singing Caledonia with Dougie MacLean!).

  • Linda Forbes 2nd Dec '13 - 3:06pm

    I’m afraid our federalist party seems to have become unionist (must be the influence of the Conservatives in coalition…), and also seems to have forgotten local politics are the fundamental starting point of Liberal Democrats.

    Those matters aside, the Better Together’s dismal performance in trying to convince Scots voters to remain within the Union is an increasing embarrassment. I have never been a fan of the SNP but the patronising recalcitrant child approach to Scotland that is emanating from Westminster is encouraging numerous LD members like me to consider voting in favour of independence.

    A number of our Scottish LD MPs have announced they are not standing at the next General Election. Perhaps those who are arguing the case for remaining in the Union may also find themselves out of a job in London. It seems to have been ignored further south but, following Michael Moore’s less than stellar appearance earlier, Alistair Carmichael, my MP, was eaten alive by Nicola Sturgeon in debate last week

    Many of the SNP proposals regarding voting reform reflect beliefs Liberal Democrats held dear when I was a candidate but all we hear from the English press is how badly we will fare as an independent nation. Well, if you keep looking backwards then you’re looking in the wrong direction for future opportunities. Yes, Scotland alone couldn’t have bailed out RBS, but who were its regulators and where were they? The future is unlikely to repeat past mistakes. On Europe, Scotland is far more pro-EU than England – perhaps we could stay in and the rest of the UK leave (wouldn’t that make Cameron, Farage, et al happy). Oh, and the Bank of England was founded by a Scotsman, so I’m sure we could come to some accommodation on currency.

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