Scottish independence: white paper political reaction
Here we look at the political reaction to today’s document.
Political reaction will be added as it is released by parties and organisations.
The head of Scotland’s charity sector voiced concerns that many poorer Scots will be frozen out of the debate.
Martin Sime, Chief Executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) said: “More than one million people are living in poverty in Scotland and 30% of our population don’t vote and will never set eyes on this weighty document.
“How are we going to engage them in this debate? We need to get everyone involved in the discussions about Scotland’s future and make sure that the debate focuses on the issues that matter to people if we are going to create a more prosperous, fairer and more equal Scotland.”
A Downing Street spokesman said that the White Paper did not “answer the big questions” including on currency, fiscal sustainability and Europe.
He added: “What I would say is that respecting the outcome of the referendum is a completely different thing to agreeing to whatever Alex Salmond announced at the press conference”.
The white paper is the “most significant milestone so far” in the Scottish independence debate, according to Dennis Canavan, the leader of the official campaign for a Yes vote.
Canavan, the chairman of Yes Scotland, said he is confident it can swing public opinion towards a Yes vote in September next year.
The former Labour MP said: “As the starting point of an independent nation, this comprehensive blueprint sets out the principles of why Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands is the right choice.
“I am confident that as more and more people become engaged in the debate and learn about the unique opportunities that a Yes vote promises, the more they will see that independence makes sense for them, their families and our country.”
Yes Scotland Chief Executive Blair Jenkins said it sets out what Scotland could achieve without the “mistakes and unwanted, one-size-fits-all policies of Westminster governments.”
He added: “It addresses the questions and concerns that matter to the people who live and work in Scotland, from childcare to how the country will be rid of Trident and the nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
“It is a very informative and easy-to-understand guide and it will open a new dimension in the debate about Scotland’s future and the choice we face next September.”
Former Chancellor Alistair Darling, leader of the pro-union Better Together campaign says the white paper fails to resolve any of the major issues over independence.
He said: “The nationalists have ducked the opportunity to answer the big questions about Scotland’s future.
“We have waited months for this and it has failed to give credible answers on fundamentally important questions.
“What currency would we use? Who will set our mortgage rates? How much would taxes have to go up? How will we pay pensions and benefits in future?
“It is a fantasy to say we can leave the UK but still keep all the benefits of UK membership.”
He branded the White Paper is “a work of fiction.”
Mr darling added: “It is thick with false promises and meaningless assertions.
“Instead of a credible and costed plan, we have a wish-list of political promises without any answers on how Alex Salmond would pay for them.”
Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie, whose party also backs independence under the Yes Scotland umbrella, welcomed the white paper.
“Today’s launch struck an ambitious tone, just as it should,” he said.
“The SNP as the party of government have the responsibility to lead Scotland in post-Yes negotiations, but they must achieve a mandate in 2016 if they want the right to implement all their policies in an independent Scotland.
“Of course, voting Yes or No is only the first choice we face. If we say Yes we open up all sorts of opportunities to achieve a better Scotland.
“For those who are already convinced that a fairer future can be won, it’s time to seize this moment and deliver the Yes votes in our communities. For those who remain unsure, they should now ask more questions of the No campaign and how they intend to deliver a better Scotland.”