This morning Gordon Brown made a major speech on Scottish Independence – and asked 20 unanswered questions on the future of Scotland. The speech and questions are below:
For most of the last year the debate about the referendum on the future of Scotland has focused on what the question would be not what the answers are; by an argument about who will vote, more than about the big issues they will vote on; by opinions or more accurately non-opinions about Scotland’s legal status in Europe – not about what matters even more – the future status of the Scottish people ; and more generally by an obsession with personalities procedures and processes – not what I want to talk about today – principles. Starting from first principles I want to ask what best meets my and your aspirations and needs as a Scot.
The choice between Yes and No is between two different visions of the future of Scotland and today I want to make the positive case for Scotland’s future with a strong Scottish Parliament as part of Britain.
BRITAIN‘S UNION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
I believe that as a result of implementing -across the UK- Scottish values that emphasise social justice and opportunity for all, we have narrowed the inequalities between the nations of the United Kingdom.
Yes today there is a 4 per cent difference between Scottish income per head and English income per head but in Europe there is a 400 per cent difference between the richest and the poorest countries and even in the US which is one nation a 100 per cent difference between the richest and poorest states.
We have guaranteed that no matter whether you are Scottish English Welsh or Irish you will have not just the same political rights but the same economic and social rights- to health care, to the same level of child benefit, to minimum wage, and to pensions
We have guaranteed that when one part of the UK is in difficulty the rest of the UK will come to their aid.
Much has still to be done but we have created what no other country in Europe has managed as part of the European Union- or even American states have been able to achieve as part of the United States of America- a union where we have pooled our resources, shared our resources, and allocated these resources to meet the needs; so that the area’s most at risk and in need are not left out.
In the last hundred years the union thanks to Scottish ideas of fairness and opportunity has become a union for social justice.
BRITAIN –A MORE EQUAL UNION
The Americans talk about a more perfect union we have at least created a more equal union. Of course we still have a long way to go to achieving greater fairness within the nations but the question people in Scotland will ask is what best meets their aspirations and their needs- what best meets their aspirations and needs as Scottish parents, as Scottish pensioners, and because todays 14 year olds will vote in the referendum of 2014, as Scottish pupils. And before we throw away what I call a social justice Union, one shaped by Scottish values, we should ask what the SNP are proposing to put in its place.
THE FIRST TWENTY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
Today I am listing the first twenty of the hundreds of unanswered questions about the separate state they propose. The unanswered questions that hide the truth about the costs and risks of independence are ‘not just about Europe and the euro-the issue of controversy of the last two weeks- but about mortgages, interest rates, pensions, child benefits, the monarchy, citizenship and the armed forces.
I call it ’blank page nationalism’ hiding the truth about the costs and risks of independence – because the SNP have decided not to tell the full truth, not just about what happens to our membership of the European Union and the Euro, but about what happens to interest rates, mortgages, money supply and inflation, to pensions, to child benefit, to the minimum wage, and even to the armed forces citizenship, and the monarchy in their plans for a separate state.
A year and a half into the debate the SNP started on independence they are still refusing to answer the unanswered questions about what happens the day after the creation of a separate state.
CAN YOU PUT A CROSS NEXT TO A BLANK PAGE?
But how when your entire future is at stake can you put a cross next to a blank page?
How, when you are voting for your children’s future, can you put a cross next to a party hiding the truth?
The SNP have looked at the opinion polls, cynically decided that to make it more palatable they had to water down their proposals for a separate state by announcing they will stay in NATO, hold on to the pound sterling, speak in platitudes about ‘a social union’ and of course maintain the monarchy, and they hope that by making the future a blank page and by effectively pulling the wool over people’s eyes the country will not wake up to the full scale of the massive rupture they are plotting and planning.
WHY ARE SCOTTISH INTEREST RATES TO BE DECIDED IN THE REST OF THE UK WITHOUT A SCOTTISH ROLE
In their incoherent and ill thought out plans for a separate state that cannot answer first eight questions about the economy- why under their plans the rest of the Uk and not Scotland will decide the interest rates we pay, the costs of the mortgages we hold, the rates at which business lends money, why under their proposals Scotland has no power over setting the inflation target, controlling the money supply, deciding crisis measures like quantitative easing.
The SNP are so anxious not to fight the referendum on joining the unpopular Euro—, and they accept it is not now credible to talk of a Scottish pound, so they have now landed themselves with the most ridiculous proposals that an independent Scotland will have its monetary policy dictated by the rest of the United Kingdom. Under their plans all the decisions in an economic crisis would be made for Scotland by a separate government and bank from the rest of the UK , a form of self-imposed colonialism more reminiscent of the old Empire than of the modern world , setting Scotland back years. The incoherence of their policy is such that while they claim independence will give them more freedom, they now have to admit they might have to sign a fiscal pact with the English Welsh and Irish under which the rest of the United Kingdom would limit the freedom of the Scottish state to spend or borrow.
Nor, can they give any explain how when Scotland spends more than it receives in tax revenues taxes, whether it be oil taxes or income taxes, will not have to rise in an independent Scotland And they cannot guarantee that Scottish pension’s child benefit unemployment benefit minimum wage rates, and public sector pay rates will not be lower than English pensions and benefits.
It is not only their European policy that is a blank page – with them afraid even to commission the studies that tells the truth – but it is their entire economic and social policy of a separate state that is a blank page because they are hiding the truth. It is like being on the programme ‘Blankety Blank’ with the blanks still left to be filled in. But these are questions that we will force them to answer. Indeed they have unanswered questions about fundamental constitutional issues – about the future of the monarchy, about citizenship, about the future of the armed forces and defence obligations in a separate state – and we will force them to answer these fundamental questions.
When Britain considered joining the euro we undertook to publish 19 studies over 2 years. When we are dealing with an even more important issue, we cannot leave today’s blank pages about the costs and risks empty and unfilled.
I say from today onwards we have to say clearly: the SNP can run and they can even bluster but they cannot forever hide. The truth will come out and we will force it out.
In addition to the two European questions they have yet to answer here are the first twenty unanswered questions and ask how can you put a cross next to a blank page, how can you put a cross next to a party hiding the truth?
SCOTTISH INTEREST RATES – WHO DECIDES
Why will the rest of the UK without any guarantee of a Scottish role set Scottish interest rates?
SCOTTISH INFLATION –WHO DECIDES
Why will the rest of the UK without any guarantee of a constitutional role for Scotland set the Scottish inflation target?
SCOTTISH MORTGAGES -WHO DECIDES
Why will the rest of the UK without any guarantee of a constitutional role for Scotland set Scottish mortgage rates?
SCOTTISH MONEY SUPPLY-WHO DECIDES
Why will the rest of the UK and not Scotland decide the Scottish money supply?
WHAT HAPPENS IN AN ECONOMIC CRISIS – WHO DECIDES
Why will the rest of the UK without a constitutional role for Scotland decide what to do in a crisis like how much quantitative easing or printing of money is done
WHO CHOOSES THE GOVERNOR OF THE BANK THAT DECIDES SCOTTISH INTEREST RATES?
Why will the rest of the UK with no constitutional role for Scotland decide who is Governor of the bank that decides Scottish monetary policy?
WHO CHOOSES THE PEOPLE WHO DECIDE SCOTTISH INTEREST RATES
Why will the rest of the UK with no constitutional role for Scotland decide who are the members of the group, the Monetary Policy Committee; that supervises interest rate decisions?
SCOTTISH FISCAL POLICY
Why will England and the rest of the UK be able to demand a fiscal pact that controls Scottish spending?
SCOTTISH BORROWING POLICY
Why will England and the rest of the UK be able to demand a fiscal pact that controls Scottish borrowing?
What happens if the Scottish Parliament has a different view on the line of succession for the Monarchy?
On what basis do they claim we have an automatic right to membership of the EU?
On what basis do they claim that if Scotland joins the EU we do not also have to commit that we are obliged to join the Euro?
Are their automatic rights of citizenship that come from being an English resident in Scotland?
Will the SNP accept that NATO is not just a military alliance generally but a nuclear weapons alliance with obligations on its members?
Can it be confirmed that there is more public spending per head in Scotland than in England?
Can it be confirmed that no guarantee can be given that Scottish pensions will not be lower than English pensions?
Can it be confirmed that no guarantee can be given that Scottish unemployment benefits will not be lower than English benefits?
Can it be confirmed that no guarantee can be given that in a separate state Scottish income support benefits will not be lower than English benefits?
Can it be confirmed that no guarantee can be given that in a separate child benefit in Scotland will not be lower than child benefit in England?
FAMILY TAX CREDITS
Can it be confirmed that no guarantee can be given that in a separate state family tax credits in Scotland will not be lower than child tax credits in England?
NATIONAL INSURANCE TO PAY FOR THE NHS
Can it be confirmed that there is no guarantee that in a separate state Scottish national insurance premiums for the NHS will not be higher than English?
Can it be confirmed that no guarantee can be given that in a separate state the minimum wage in Scotland will not be lower than in England?