SNP publish independence white paper

The Scottish government has set out its plans for a referendum on independence.

Despite opposition to full independence from MSPs and the public, first minister Alex Salmond said doing nothing was no longer an option.

The SNP is committed to full independence but has presented a range of three options in its white paper.

As an alternative to a full split from Westminster, the Scottish parliament could slowly extend its devolved powers or push for a radical redesign devolution to extend its powers, they claim.

The Scottish government is touting today’s white paper as a ‘national conversation’, averting an immediate parliamentary clash over a referendum.

Setting out the ‘national conversation’, Mr Salmond argued the Scottish people are sovereign and should decide how they are governed.

He said: “As first minister I will contribute by putting the case for independence, its benefits and opportunities. I invite others to join the conversation to share their opinions and argue their case.

“The paper, Choosing Scotland’s Future, sets out the ground from the national conversation by exploring the concept of independence and other constitutional possibilities.

“It is the starting point of the conversation and the people of Scotland can now carry it forward to reach an informed decision on their future.”

However, opposition politicians have criticised the SNP’s focus on independence. They argue there is no appetite among the public for further independence and a referendum would be a waste of time and money.

Labour maintains 65 per cent of Scots voted for unionist parties in the last election and the SNP has no mandate to push for independence.

Furthermore, opinion polls have found the SNP has failed to boost nationalist sentiment since forming a government.

Labour’s David Cairns said the SNP’s “flagship” policy is already sinking. He added: “Only a few months ago voters in Scotland rejected independence. Breaking up Britain would be a risky leap in the dark and not in Scotland’s interests.”

Scots can participate in the debate through the official website.”>