SNP insists Scotland can 'afford' independence

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon in Falkirk this morning
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon in Falkirk this morning
Alex Stevenson By

Alex Salmond has insisted there is "all to play for" in the Scottish independence referendum campaign, as he outlined how a national Scottish government would use its economic powers to boost its GDP.

The first minister and deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon launched a pamphlet making the economic case for independence at a factory in Falkirk in an attempt to revive a campaign already struggling to win over voters north of the border.

"Our economic policy at the present moment is largely determined by Westminster. It's Westminster that refuses to invest resources in a fund for future generations, cutting capital investment, it's Westminster that allowed too much of the economic activity of the UK to be concentrated in the south-east of England. We can't afford to make these mistakes in Scotland," Salmond said.

"We need the economic powers to boost our competitive position.


"This document here shows how the Scottish government can use the economic powers currently held at Westminster to boost capital spending, to give our companies a competitive advantage, to boost international engagement in Scotland by cutting the cost of flying in and out of Scotland... our message today is give Scotland the economic tools so that we can do the job to build a successful, independent nation."

The pair argued Scotland was lagging behind other European countries its size despite its "natural advantages" and "strong economic foundations".

It blamed Westminster for cutting capital spending, failing to establish an 'oil fund for future generations' and allowing income inequality to grow dramatically in the UK.

"We can more than afford to be independent," Sturgeon insisted.

"Independence means having the powers to build on those areas of comparative advantage but also address those areas where we need to do better, to improve on our current performance."

The pamphlet highlighted Scotland's food and drink industry, creating industries, life sciences and green energy reserves to demonstrate an independent Scotland would not have to rely on its oil and gas industry.

But on the Today programme this morning Salmond pointed out oil revenues for the next 40 years are expected to be higher than those of the last 40. In 2011 North Sea energy contributed £26 billion to Scotland's GDP, today's paper argued.

The SNP and the coalition government in London are engaged in a bitter war of words about the potential economic viability of an independent Scotland.

Earlier this week the Scotland Office published the latest in a series of papers undermining the case for a 'yes' vote in next year's referendum, explaining why consumers will pay the price if the United Kingdom breaks up.

Scottish secretary Michael Moore argued being in UK allows financial companies to subsidise products and share risk effectively; that the UK provides effectively-funded protection for consumers, broad fiscal base to protect savings and pensions; and that EU law would require the establishment of a separate regulator for Scotland if it left the UK, increasing costs to the consumer.

Earlier this month an Ipsos Mori poll for the Times newspaper suggested Salmond's efforts were not meeting with success.

Of those certain to vote in next year's referendum 59% said they were against independence, an increase from the 55% seen three months ago. The 'yes' vote declined from 34% to 31%.

A Sunday Times poll this weekend put the 'no' campaign ahead by 44% to 36%, which the SNP leader told the Today programme was "not a huge gap".

He pointed out that when the UK's potential exit from the European Union was factored into the equation the gap was closed completely, with both 'yes' and 'no' attracting 44%. Salmond said: "I would say it's all to play for."

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