Analysis: An underwhelming document which won't change the debate

David Torrance: 'A lot of what is stated as fact is contestable.'
David Torrance: 'A lot of what is stated as fact is contestable.'

David Torrance, Alex Salmond's biographer, gives Politics.co.uk his verdict on the first minister's white paper on Scottish independence:

"I was a bit underwhelmed. It's basically a compilation of papers and speech we already heard. Perhaps it was expecting too much to think there would be new ideas for independence.

"It's nicely produced – it looks like an Argos catalogue – it's lucidly written and quite accessible. It just doesn't move things on.

"I've always thought currency is one of Salmond's biggest weakness. They end up arguing against themselves. The line today was that sterling is as much Scotland's as everyone else's. That's fine but it's a glib statement which doesn’t lead anywhere useful. It will run and run. They hoped the white paper would draw a line under those issues but I don't see it doing that.


"It looked comprehensive. It looked like an authoritative document. Calling it a white paper imbues it with a sense of authority. It's not a white paper at all, really. It's a prospectus, a manifesto. Inside they try to separate the facts of independence from what they want to achieve with it but they don’t succeed. A lot of what is stated as fact is contestable.

"I think it's the gift that will keep on giving for the unionists, they'll pick over it over the next few weeks. If they were hoping it would draw a line under things I suspect it won't achieve that.

"Most people will not read this. Most Scots will take away what's on the evening news tonight. And that will range between neutral and quite critical. Salmond said it would 'resonate down through the ages'. It simply didn't rise to that. It was a humdrum Scottish government press conference. I've been to many them before. It didn't feel different."

David Torrance  is the author of The Battle for Britain, an insider's account of the fight for Scottish independence. You can purchase the book here or click here to read an exclusive extract.

Comments

Load in comments
Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.

Newsletter update
wa