Representatives from across political parties and civic Scotland will be invited to work together with the Scottish Government if there is a yes vote in the 2014 referendum, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today in a major speech on the case for independence.
If there is a yes vote for independence, Ms Sturgeon said, there would be an inclusive process around the negotiations that follow.
In the speech at Strathclyde University, the Deputy First Minister also said that Scotland was already ‘half way there’ and that bringing the rest of the powers reserved to Westminster home would build on foundations already in place. She further stressed that bringing powers home was essential to building a more prosperous and socially just nation.
Ms Sturgeon said:
“You cannot guarantee social justice unless you are in control of the delivery.
“And that is my central argument to you today. Not just that independence is more than an end in itself. But that it is only by bringing the powers home, by being independent, that we can build the better nation we all want.
“Bringing the powers home has to be the in interests of long term substantial change.
“Yes, we will make changes in the short term – the sensible use of borrowing powers to get our economy growing faster, for example. Or action to deal with sky-high air passenger duty that is damaging trade and tourism. Or changes to welfare reforms. But this is also about change for the long term.
“It is about ending, once and for all, the cycle of deprivation so that our people can enter a thriving economy and contribute more meaningfully to their own well-being and that of the world.
“Over the next 12 months, as we approach the publication of the independence White Paper, through a range of papers, speeches and events, we will show how we would set about that task.”
Ms Sturgeon told the audience that Scotland would not be “starting from scratch” and praised the late Donald Dewar for delivering what she said “may come to be seen as one the finest pieces of legislation ever”.
She added: “It set up a parliament which was fit for the 21st century – we are already governing in a manner which is light years from the UK. We have in place a great foundation – it was designed to be built on.”
The Deputy First Minister, who heads the SNP’s referendum preparations, insisted that Scotland was “already half way there” having already brought half the powers home and successfully used them.
“Now we must build on the foundation and bring the home the rest. It is time to finish the job.” she said.
Alex Salmond’s deputy pledged that in the event of a Yes vote, that everyone, regardless of which side of the debate they were on, will be invited to participate in subsequent negotiations with the Government based in London.
“The Edinburgh Agreement makes clear that the Scottish and UK governments will work together to implement the outcome in the best interests of the people of Scotland and the rest of the UK.
“And although the independence negotiations that will follow a yes vote will be led by the Scottish Government, we will not act alone.
“If there is a yes vote for independence, then let me make it clear – the Scottish Government will invite representatives of the other political parties and of civic Scotland to contribute to those negotiations.
“We will have had our debate and taken our decision. Each of us will have argued our case strongly and passionately. But when the people have spoken, we will emerge from it as one united nation.”
“We will be team Scotland, and at that moment in our history, I am sure – whatever they say this side of the referendum – that Johann Lamont, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie will argue Scotland’s case as strongly as Alex Salmond and Patrick Harvie.“
Responding to the speech, Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Jackson Carlaw said: “Scotland is already getting more powers over drink driving and air gun control and we will soon see the biggest transfer of fiscal powers for 300 years.
“Our country benefits enormously from being part of Britain.
“We are stronger economically, have more clout on the international stage and our society is richer for being part of the family of the UK.”
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