Nicola Sturgeon: Scottish independence is a matter of ‘when, not if’
By Shaun Gibson : @ShaunyNews
Scottish independence is a matter of “when, not if” – particularly if unionist parties deliver on their vow of substantial new powers for Holyrood, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Devolution of the financial, economic and welfare powers implicit in unionist pledges of “home rule” will render future “scaremongering” over Scotland’s capacity for self-government “risible”, according to Ms Sturgeon, who is almost certain to be Scotland’s next first minister. But she recognised that Westminster faces a difficult task in delivering powers which it claimed “would cause the sky to fall in” before the referendum. Ms Sturgeon will today face calls to rule out a rapid second referendum by Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, who has already warned nationalists against arguing for “independence by the back door” in the forthcoming Smith Commission negotiations on more powers. Writing in left-wing periodical Scottish Left Review, Ms Sturgeon said: “There is no going back – and much as they might have wanted to, Whitehall politicians and mandarins cannot put us back in a devolved box. “The word ‘devolution’ is no longer adequate, for that describes a process of handing down carefully circumscribed powers from on high to a relatively passive people. “Scotland is now more politically engaged and assertive than at any stage of the democratic era.”
Better Together’s “project fear” tactics “undoubtedly played a role in determining the outcome” of the referendum, but if unionists deliver on their devolution pledges in full it would diminish future dire warnings about the implications of self-government, she said. “Threats of higher supermarket prices and business relocation – empty and orchestrated from Downing Street though they were – diverted attention and undermined confidence,” she said. “In the circumstances, achieving 45% and 1.6 million votes for an independent Scotland was remarkable, and in my opinion will be judged in days to come as the moment which determined that independence was a question of ‘when, not if’.” She added: “Put simply, the more responsibilities we can demonstrate Scotland is capable of successfully discharging – and the more these are used to build a fairer country and more economic opportunity for all – the less people will heed the siren voices claiming that to go further would cause the sky to fall in.”
Ms Sturgeon confirmed that former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown’s aspiration for “a modern form of Scottish home rule” in a federal UK within two years will be the SNP’s benchmark for the Smith Commission. “Additional powers which answer to the description of either home rule or federalism require both a quantitative and qualitative enhancement of Scottish self-government, especially in the core areas of finance, the economy and welfare,” she said. “These were, of course, the very areas where the No campaign depicted doom and gloom if decisions were taken at Holyrood rather than Westminster. “However, squaring that circle is Westminster’s difficulty – Scotland’s opportunity lies in gaining the powers we were promised in return for a No vote, and ensuring that we use them wisely for the benefit of the commonwealth. “If that is what transpires – and unless it is then the vow to the 55% who voted No, as well as the 45% who voted Yes, will have been broken – then Scotland will be self-governing to an extent which would render a future Project Fear attack on the implications of independence risible. “So while the referendum result did not go our way, these are still good times for Scotland.”
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