Scots won’t buy a ‘pig in a poke’ says MacAskill who calls on Unionists to spell out alternative to independence

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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill has today called on Unionists to spell out what new powers they propose to offer the people of Scotland as an alternative to independence.
 
Speaking on the Politics Show Scotland, Mr McAskill said that Scots would not “buy a pig in a poke” from the anti-independence parties and added: “we need to have spelled out by them what powers they propose to give to Scotland”.

The Scottish Justice Minister was responding to an interview by former Labour Minister Alistair Darling who had earlier conceded that the status quo was unsatisfactory.

“I don’t think anybody would argue that the status quo, what we have at the moment, is satisfactory.  It was fine in 1998, things have moved on, the constitution is always something you need to look at and see what’s best.” Mr Darling said.

However the Labour MP backed the stance of Tory PM David Cameron by insisting that Scots needed to say yes or no to independence before any possibility of further powers could be considered.

Mr MacAskill accused Labour politicians of “supporting the Tories” at a time when vulnerable people were facing cuts to their benefits. 

He also questioned Unionist commitment to new powers for Scotland given that current legislation going through Westminster will see some powers taken back by London.

“Equally they have got to explain why, when they have a Scotland Bill going through Parliament south of the border at the present moment they are seeking to take powers away from Scotland.” he said.

Negotiations

Questioned on how the Scottish Government would deal with negotiations with London in the event of a Yes vote in the independence referendum, Mr MacAskill said that the SNP would enter talks in a spirit of “willingness and co-operation” in order to ensure a seamless transition to independence.

“There are maybe some matters that may have to be entered into negotiation with Westminster but we would go into that in a spirit of willingness and co-operation and I think it’s accepted that is how Westminster would engage.

“It would be in the interests of everybody to make sure we had as seamless a matter as possible, and there are aspects as I say where we would return to the people of Scotland” he said.

However, on being pressed on this by Isabel Fraser who asked if this meant a further referendum, Mr MacAskill said no and suggested that it was likely that amicable negotiations would ensue.

Mr MacAskill also defended the referendum timetable claiming that it was the only possible workable date that allowed a full a frank debate that would allow both side to fully explain their constitutional position.

Speaking earlier on the same programme, Lib Dem Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore confirmed more powers were indeed being contemplated by the anti-independence camp and called on both sides to define their respective proposals.

“It’s not just about us setting out what the alternative will be, I think that the important thing is that there can be further devolution that’s a great step for us to be contemplating.

“But the SNP have failed so far to spell out what an independent Scotland would look like and what all the different issues around the currency and defence would be as well.”

A spokesman for Mr MacAskill later confirmed that only one referendum was needed for independence: “As Mr MacAskill made clear, only one referendum is needed to secure independence, and that principle is now widely accepted.  We are asking the anti-independence parties to do exactly as we are, which is to outline the detail of what is on offer so the people can debate that detail.

“We are doing that through our ongoing consultation on the referendum and in the White Paper we will publish ahead of the Referendum Bill. Following independence, people will of course still have the chance to have their say in Scottish Parliament elections.”