What independence White Paper could mean for the Isles

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government’s “immensely significant” white paper on Scottish independence and discussed the impact it could have on the Western Isles.

Dr Allan pointed to a number of welcome references to the Western Isles in the document, commenting: “The Scottish Government has today indicated that, with a Yes vote, next September, there will be negotiations leading to an orderly transition to independence, on 24 March 2016. The first thing that will happen after independence is elections to the Scottish Parliament, and at that point Scots can choose whoever they want to be their next Government. The beauty of independence is that Scotland will get the Government it votes for every time.

“The white paper is an immensely significant step towards this aim, and contains questions and answers on hundreds of aspects of what independence will mean for every family in the islands. These range from sections on the shape of an independent government to the welfare system and arrangements for pensions, as well as the Scottish Government’s plans for a currency union with the rest of the UK and the SNP’s policy of maintaining the Queen as Head of State and transferring the Royal Mail back into public ownership.

“Specifically mentioned is that the Scottish defence forces will continue to operate the Hebrides Range and make the base available, as at present to the forces of other allied countries. Scotland will be a member of NATO.

“The paper also outlines how island fishermen would at last be represented in Europe directly by a Scottish Government, and how crofters and farmers could expect a substantial uplift in agricultural and rural development funding via the Common Agricultural Policy if Scotland were an independent member state of the EU.

“As well as setting out the shape of independence, and the reasons why independence is the Scottish Governments policy, the paper also gives an indication of policies the Scottish Government would seek to bring forward once Scotland had the necessary powers to do so. These would include abolishing the bedroom tax, and removing nuclear weapons from Scotland as soon as this is safely possible.

“It is relevant that this paper is being published at the same time that the Scottish Government is considering how to ensure people in the islands can take more control over services in their own communities.

“I passionately believe that Scotland will flourish as an independent country free to make its own decisions.

“The debate about independence will continue to grow, particularly in light of a poll this week showing that the yes vote is only a 5% swing away from victory. The white paper will I believe now provide the basis for a detailed and positive case for Scotland’s future to be in Scotland’s hands.”