29/08/2014 04:26 BST | Updated 28/10/2014 05:59 GMT

Raising the Bar of Debate

Our decision on 18 September is one of the utmost importance. It is perhaps the most important political choice we will have the power to make in our lifetimes. It is therefore imperative that we ensure, as this debate nears its final stages, that our remaining time for discussion and reaching a decision is used effectively. We should all agree upon the objective of making our decision, either way, an informed one.


Regrettably, though, it remains the case that the debate is all too often steered back to a series of talking points and misunderstandings which we believe should have been laid to rest long ago.


We list here, then, some of the things we believe that this debate is not about; points which should no longer be allowed to dominate discussion and which can, at their worst, serve to obscure the true nature of the choice we are making.

1. A vote for independence is not a vote for Alex Salmond and the SNP


The referendum in 2014 is on whether or not Scotland should be an independent country, not on which party should govern an independent Scotland. That would be decided in 2016 in the first elections to the independent Scottish parliament. In the words of the man himself: 'This referendum is not about this Party, or this first minister, or even the wider Yes campaign. It's a vote for a government in Scotland that the people of Scotland choose, pursuing policies the people of Scotland support'.


2. A vote for independence is not a vote for any specific policies, it is a vote for the power to decide our own policies in the future.


3. The goals of the independence campaign are democracy (getting the governments we vote for) and self-determination (making our own decisions and taking control of our own future).


What we do with that power will be for the people of Scotland to decide.


4. Scotland is not subsidised by the UK and there is much evidence to suggest that Scotland would flourish economically as an independent nation.


Over the past five years, Scotland's percentage share of revenues has been higher than its percentage share of spending - 9.5% of total UK revenues compared to 9.3% of total UK spending (GERS 2012-2013).

With independence, the Financial Times has stated that Scotland would start off with healthier finances than the rest of the UK and be one of the top 20 richest countries in the world. If a geographic share of UK oil and gas output is taken into account, Scotland's GDP per head is bigger than that of France. Even excluding oil and gas, per capita GDP is higher than that of Italy. Scotland has all the foundations for a strong and diverse economy: alongside oil and gas, we have huge exports in whisky, food and drink, chemicals and a broad range of manufactured goods. We have more top universities per head than any other country in the world. We have a booming tourism industry, and huge potential in renewable energy, with 25% of Europe's potential wind and tidal energy, and 10% of Europe's potential wave energy.


Fig Caption:  In all but one of the past seven years, Scotland's tax receipts have constituted a higher percentage share of the UK total than UK spending in Scotland. In other words, we have on average contributed proportionally more than we got back and our budget deficit is lower than that of the rest of the UK.

5. The campaign for Scottish independence is open, inclusive, civic, diverse, democratic and internationalist.

It is not anti-English, fascist or xenophobic, and to lump the Scottish independence movement together with the likes of UKIP and the Nazis is offensive and ignorant of reality.

 6. The referendum is not a choice between independence and the status quo. It is a choice between two futures.


The future of Scotland in the event of a yes vote has been, and continues to be, much discussed and scrutinised, but the same must apply to the event of a no vote. What is going to happen to the Barnett Formula and will Scotland's budget be cut? Is the relentless privatisation of the NHS down south going to force Scotland to do the same? Is the 2015 General Election going to result in another Conservative government that Scotland didn't vote for? Is there a Tory-UKIP coalition in the foreseeable future? Is Scotland going to be dragged out of the EU against its will in an in-out referendum in 2017? Is the Scottish Parliament going to be given more powers, what exactly will these powers be, and when will it get them?


Links to more information on points

4. Scotland has all it takes to be a successful independent country


5. Just a few of the groups and parties campaigning for a yes-vote