Referendum : No Answers to the Questions Put by the “No” Campaign

Lesley Brennan

31 August 2013

Thursday’s “Guardian “ carried an a startling admission by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

She acknowledged that “her government's crucial white paper on independence due to be published within weeks would not give any details of a new welfare system.

Voters would need to wait for the 2016 Holyrood elections to see such proposals, she said.”

This is startling because in the Holyrood magazine earlier in the week, she had said,

The White Paper I think will be, I know will be, a fantastic prospectus for the case for independence and will stand on its own and be a document that can answer questions and further the case for independence.”

However the White Paper will avoid answering questions that those opposed to independence have been asking on welfare provision in an independent Scotland.

Benefits spending in Scotland is currently over £17 billion a year and accounts for almost one third of all government expenditure in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon commented on questions asked about issues in the White Paper,

Where a question is asked, “ she said, “ and where it is an answer that depends on a policy decision made by a government in an independent Scotland will make, I will answer what the SNP would do if it we were in government.”

However, how can such questions be asked if Ms Sturgeon has no plans to offer about welfare in an independent Scotland, an issue that is very important for very many people in Scotland.

The welfare budget takes up the largest slice of government expenditure; welfare is a central issue in the Referendum campaign, but we will learn little or nothing about welfare policies in an independent Scotland in the White Paper.

However what we learned from the famous leaked paper written by SNP Finance Minister John Swinney earlier this year in the “Herald” was that :

SNP ministers have privately voiced concerns about an independent Scotland being able to afford state pensions and unemployment benefits”



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