Scottish independence: ‘SNP lacks legal authority’

Jim Sillars claims a 'national transitional council' must lead post-independence negotiations. Picture: Julie Bull

Jim Sillars claims a 'national transitional council' must lead post-independence negotiations. Picture: Julie Bull

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THE SNP does not have the legal or political authority to lead the negotiations that would follow a Yes vote in the independence referendum, according to the party’s former deputy leader Jim Sillars.

The Scottish Government is not “the democratically elected Government of Scotland” but the administration of a devolved parliament, where many MSPs have “pretty poor” experience of the real world, Mr Sillars said.

The negotiating team must not be picked by government or parliament but a “national transitional council” led by an experienced public servant, he said.

Writing in Holyrood magazine, Mr Sillars said: “According to Nicola Sturgeon during the debate on the White Paper on November 26, Alex Salmond and she will lead the team who will do the negotiations with the Government in London.

“Very graciously, she said they would want the likes of Gordon Brown, Alastair Darling etc to join.

“Now, where lies the legitimacy for that claim to be the leaders who form the team, and have the authority to invite others to join?

“It comes, says Nicola, because the SNP is ‘the democratically elected Government of Scotland’. That’s not true.

“Alex Salmond is First Minister of an administration elected to divide up a bloc grant, and exercise a limited range of powers that don’t include economic policy, defence, foreign relations, social security.

“An administration lacking those powers cannot be taken seriously when making a claim to be a Government in the full sense of that term. Calling yourself one, doesn’t make you one.

“In Scots law I can call myself Elvis Presley instead of Jim Sillars, but that doesn’t make me a singer.”

He added: “We want someone who is not a politician, but who will be regarded as a trustworthy figure with a great record of public service, able to convene a meeting to start the negotiating team building.

“I realise that this idea seems to bypass our MSPs, some of whom I know believe the negotiating team building must start in the parliament at Holyrood.

“But dare I point out that there are not many people in that body with experience of negotiations, and with the necessary width of knowledge over the whole range of issues between Holyrood and Westminster.

“Holyrood has more than its share of the new political class whose experience of the real world is, well, pretty poor.

“How we set about creating a National Transitional Council from which the negotiating team can be picked and given its brief, is something we should be thinking about now.”

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