Independence: Union backers ‘not less Scottish’

SCOTTISH Secretary Alistair Carmichael is to launch an attack on politicians who try to portray opponents of independence as less Scottish than those who back separation.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said the SNP Fife councillor was concocting a dangerous mix. Picture: Jane Barlow

In a highly personal speech to be given on Wednesday, Mr Carmichael will warn that elements of the SNP have entered “dangerous territory” by “mixing politics and patriotism” and risk dividing the nation after the referendum.

His attack comes after SNP Fife councillor David Alexander described Mr Carmichael as a “supposed Scot” last week, suggesting that he is less Scottish than supporters of nationalism.

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Mr Carmichael’s speech comes in the run-up to the SNP Scottish Government’s White Paper on independence to be published later this month.

Mr Carmichael will, in his first constitutional speech since his appointment last month, warn against “mixing up politics and patriotism”.

He will say he is a “proud Scot” and a whisky lover, drawing on his upbringing on Islay, work in Glasgow and Aberdeen and current life in Orkney to argue that support for independence does not make a person a “better Scot”.

Speaking in Inverness on Wednesday, Mr Carmichael will say: “Not content with trying to divide the UK, the supporters of independence also seek to divide our fellow Scots depending on their voting intentions in the referendum.

“I tell you this: once you start mixing up politics and patriotism you can quickly get into dangerous territory.”

He will add: “You may be asking whether the rantings of a Fife councillor of whom few have heard actually matter. In truth they do not much, except for this – he is not alone in this view and he is taking his lead from the top.

“A few weeks ago, in yet another effort to have a debate about the debate rather than having the debate itself, Alex Salmond called on David Cameron to debate independence.

“He wanted, he said, to see the Prime Minister ‘argue against Scotland’. Not, you note, ‘against Scottish independence’ but ‘against Scotland’. In the nationalist mindset it seems to be the same thing.”

Mr Carmichael will also say: “No-one has a right to question my Scottishness, or anyone else’s come to that … the referendum is an opportunity to put divisions behind us. I want people to support the positive reasons Scotland should remain in the UK.”

He will also say that the Scottishness of his Manchester-born wife who has made her home in Scotland since she came to study here in 1982 should not be questioned.

SNP Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she agrees that “no-one’s Scottishness should be questioned on the basis of their political views – or indeed on the basis of whether or not they drink malt whisky”. She added: “My own family background is part-English, with a grandmother from England, but like so very many people of mixed heritage who live and work here in Scotland, I passionately believe Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s own hands.

“As it happens, unlike Alistair Carmichael, I don’t drink malt whisky – but I am looking forward to toasting a historic Yes vote next year.”

Coalition’s analysis paper on research funding marked down as ‘nonsense’

The future of research in Scotland could be under threat from a vote for independence, the UK government will today warn in its latest analysis paper ahead of next year’s referendum.

The paper, to be launched by Tory universities minister David Willetts, will say that science and research has flourished with access to the combined funding, ideas and expertise of an “integrated and interdependent” community, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills claims.

An extract released by the UK government states: “In the event of a vote in favour of independence, relationships between the continuing UK and an independent Scottish state would become international relationships.

“While there are examples of international research co-operation, these typically involve encouraging voluntary co-ordination of research programmes and limited joint funding initiatives as well as collaborations on specific projects and are not a replacement for national approaches.”

Researchers in Scotland benefit from access to world-leading shared infrastructure and international facilities such as the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the paper argues.

The Scottish Government dismissed the paper’s claims as “nonsense”.

A spokesman for Education Secretary Mike Russell said: “Scotland has an unrivalled record of success in attracting research funding, reflecting the excellence and global reputation of our universities, and it is, frankly, nonsense to suggest that will not continue with independence.”

£10bn break

Alex Salmond is to demand £10 billion of assets as part of a divorce settlement with the UK if Scotland votes Yes to independence, according to reports.

The claim comes ahead of the publication of the White Paper on independence this month. It says that the SNP will claim eight per cent of defence and other assets should be handed over to Scotland.

According to a newspaper report, a senior SNP insider warned nationalists could walk away from Scotland’s portion of the £1 trillion UK debt if they don’t get their way. The source said: “If they won’t share the assets, we will refuse to share the liabilities.”