LibLink… Michael Moore MP: Uncertainty of independence can’t be wished away

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland wrote in this weekend’s Scotland on Sunday about the next steps as Scotland approaches the referendum on independence which will take place in the Autumn of 2014.

Now that the relevant Section 30 Order, giving the Scottish Parliament the power to hold that referendum is clearing its way through Parliament, the focus turns to the issues rather than the process:

But we need the “great debate” to flush out all the issues. Over the next few weeks and months, the UK Government will start publishing a series of papers that look at Scotland’s position in the UK today and make clear the choices that would face all of us as Scots if the UK family were to break up. This will be a serious body of work to inform the public debate.

One thing that won’t be happening, ahead of the decision, though, are talks on how the split would be managed if the Scottish people voted for independence:

In any split, the hard decision to leave happens before the difficult work of dividing up assets and debts. I hope and believe that Scots will choose to keep the UK family together, not split it apart. But if I am wrong, and Scots vote to leave the United Kingdom, only then will negotiations between Scotland and the rest of the UK begin.

Scotland’s two governments agree that this is right. As the Scottish Government has said, if people vote to leave the UK both sides will need to take stock after the result, prepare for negotiations and then come to those talks ready to argue for their interests.

As the Edinburgh Agreement set out, both governments are committed to continuing to work together constructively, whatever the outcome. But working constructively does not mean that the ­remainder of the UK family would or could facilitate everything the Scottish Government proposes. If people in Scotland choose to go it alone, those representing Scotland will make their case. Similarly, the UK Government would then have to prioritise the interests of the people it represents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – and agreement could only be reached on that basis.

You can read the whole article here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • I find veiled threats like this – “Similarly, the UK Government would then have to prioritise the interests of the people it represents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – and agreement could only be reached on that basis.” to be quite inappropriate under the circumstances, given the relative power of the two parties involved in the negotiations. During negotiations before any break up, because it is before the break up, the ‘UK’ government will have to represent the entire UK as it exists at that point, i.e. including Scotland. The UK government will still have a solemn duty to ensure that Scotland gets it’s proper fair share in any independence settlement – no more, but no less. Since the ‘UK’ government always tends to focus so heavily on representing the interests of London over the rest of the UK anyway, though, I don’t hold out much hope of that – is it any wonder that the Scots are fed up with rule from London?!

    As Liberals, we should recognise that it is a choice for the people of Scotland to decide after a free, fair and open debate, and without any attempts at scaremongering, or any mis-information – above all else, Liberals should be in there making sure that the debate is an open an honest one.

  • Al McIntosh 16th Jan '13 - 9:30pm

    Just the usual negative scaremongering that has been the hallmark of the Westminster-led no campaign.

    In contrast, the positive case is being made for Scottish independence such as highlighting how the well over £1 trillion worth of oil and gas in the north sea can be used to benefit the people of Scotland rather than going to fund yet more Whitehall waste or how £250 million annually will be saved from no longer paying for nuclear weapons as well as the £50 million saving from no longer having to pay for Westminster politicians to name but a few of the benefits.

    Perhaps Michael Moore is attempting to deflect attention away from his decision to hold back files relating to devolution 15 years ago? Files due to be released under the 15 year rule have not been released by Michael Moore’s Scotland Office despite the fact that the Scottish Government has made no objection to their release. This has led to speculation that this may be because the files contain information that could be potentially embarrassing such as the differing views of Labour ministers at the time about devolution. The only way the public can know is for Michael Moore to live up to his liberal tag and release the files.

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