By a Newsnet reporter
The Scottish National Party dismissed the latest report from the Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee, pointing out that it is ‘demonstrably false’ to claim that by “promoting” an independent Scotland, the Scottish Government has “travelled outside” its “legal remit”, and that the SNP administration “must not use public resources” to support the government’s policy of independence.
It follows another publication by the all-Unionist committee attacking Scottish independence. This new report has accused the Scottish government of acting outwith its powers in gaining control of the referendum.
However the SNP has pointed out that when he was head of the UK Civil Service, Sir Gus O’Donnell wrote to the then three opposition leaders in the Scottish Parliament in October 2011, confirming that in relation to Scottish independence it is “right and proper that civil servants working to their respective administrations undertake the relevant work to support Ministers to pursue their aims”.
The SNP has also accused the latest report of being hypocritical because it makes no criticism of the work being undertaken across Whitehall departments on behalf of the UK Government to achieve a No vote.
Over a year ago, the Herald newspaper reported that “Whitehall’s full intellectual might” is engaged in the referendum, and that: “The Treasury is spearheading the co-ordinated push with Sir Nicholas MacPherson, the department’s top civil servant, chairing a group of permanent secretaries”, who are engaged in producing reports in “13 policy areas” to support a No vote on behalf of the parties in the coalition.
SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP said:
“This is a shoddy report, and it is sad that a committee which is funded by the taxpayer to be a watchdog of the Westminster Government has been reduced to making the absurd and demonstrably false claim that the Scottish Government has been acting illegally. Such arrogance takes the No campaign’s ‘Project Fear’ to a new low.
“The only government which has acted illegally in these islands is when Westminster took us into the bloodbath that was the illegal Iraq war.
“It is simply bizarre and undemocratic to suggest that the elected government of the day in Scotland is acting illegally by promoting our constitutional policy – the SNP gained the strongest possible mandate from the people of Scotland at the Scottish Parliament election. And if committee members want to make this point, it is frankly laughable for them to make no similar comment or criticism about how the entire Whitehall operation is working to support a No vote.
“The No campaign are probably embarrassed by what Mr Davidson’s committee is churning out – and no-one is going to regard it a serious piece of work, worthy of the public money that was wasted in its production.”
The report has become the latest attack on independence to be headlined and promoted by BBC Scotland. In an online article published by the broadcaster it focuses on the issue of currency.
In the article Labour MP Ian Davidson is quoted as saying: “The Scottish government has already shown great willingness to misrepresent or disregard the many inconvenient truths that do not support the case for separation.
“Of course a case can be made for separation, and its proponents must be allowed to make that case as well as they can, but they must not simply promote a party view with public money in a government document.”