November 27. /ITAR-TASS/. The future of the once-mightiest state in Europe and in the world is now under threat after First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Alex Salmond presented a road map for Scotland’s independence in Glasgow on Tuesday. The map is an about 650-page White Paper that describes in details a plan for Scotland’s secession from the UK.
But the state divorce was not the main aim of Salmond’s address. He attempted to set the tone for the upcoming fight for Scotland’s independence due to finish on September 18 next year with a Scottish referendum.
And he was successful in doing so. In a pronouncedly practical tone he pictured ‘a Scottish dream’ — a fair and prospering society of independent Scots responsible for their future.
BBC radio said Salmond showed neither revolutionary rapture, nor romanticism, nor ‘sturm und drang’ but depicted an alluring future of the independent Scotland when people will be happier and freer than now.
An experienced British analyst present at the meeting told Itar-Tass that the new nation was nascent, that the fight to preserve UK integrity would be tough, and that its outcome was not obvious.
For centuries, independent England and Scotland coexisted on one island, often at war with each other. But in spring 1707, they were united in one state of Great Britain. Now, as 306 years have elapsed, the country has found itself on the brink of collapse as Scotland obtained the referendum for Scotland’s secession and state sovereignty.
On Tuesday, Salmond unveiled the plan for Scotland’s independence and tried to turn the course of history in the direction offered by the SNP. The White Paper drawn up by the Scottish government gives answers to 650 questions voters may have about independence. It presents the nationalists’ plan of action following a positive outcome in the referendum and victory in 2016 parliamentary elections.
Notably, Salmond’s party plans that independent Scotland will continue to recognise the British monarch as head of state, as do Canada and Australia. But the nationalists pledged British submarine bases armed with Trident nuclear missiles will be withdrawn from Scotland during the first term of nationalist rule in the independent country, that is in 2016-2021. In a briefing, Salmond said there was no use in spending billions of pounds on weapons of mass destruction.
Thus, should Scotland acquire independence, Britain will face a serious security problem as it now has no alternative option for locating its nuclear potential. At the same time, Salmond said Scotland would remain in NATO.
Besides, the nationalist leaders promised the British pound sterling would remain Scotland’s main currency. Salmond also vowed that, if independent, Scotland will take on itself part of British state debt.
The currency issue is key since it would define the economic stability of the new Scotland. Scottish government will need Britain’s assent for use of the pound sterling for the Bank of England to act as a lender of last resort in the event of a crisis. Then, the British finance ministry and the Bank of England would determine Scotland’s finance policy and control its budget policy.
Salmond stressed the considerable contribution income from oil and gas extracted in Scottish fields made to the British budget, adding that preserving a common currency space was in both Scotland’s and the UK's best interests.
Besides, if Scotland leaves the UK it will remain a member of the European Union and will not have to initiate new accession talks, Salmond said confidently, though the issue is not as clear in reality. Last year, head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said independent Scotland would have to lodge an application and have talks with each of the member states.
A day before the White Paper was unveiled, the British Treasury announced that to create a sustainable economy and maintain the level of social services, Scottish government would have to hike taxes by 1,000 pounds a year — from 2,517 to 3,523 pounds — for each taxpayer.
Meanwhile, Salmond’s government assures that it would care for financial stability by means of a welfare fund based on proceeds from extracting oil offshore in the North Sea. The nationalists estimate this fund’s assets at 22,000 pounds per capita.
The latest poll has shown 47 percent would vote against independence, whereas 38 percent is planning to say ‘yes’. This means, to clinch victory, the nationalists need to make 5 percent change their mind, which will be a hard but not unrealisable task less than 10 months ahead of the referendum.
Alex Salmond is one of the most efficient and impressive politicians in modern Britain, and his ability to lead the Scottish people to independence is not to be underestimated, the English political scientist Eddy Johnson told Itar-Tass.
Meanwhile, the influential British weekly The Spectator said “some of David Cameron's closest advisers think a victory for him (Salmond) next year is not just possible, but probable”.