Last week, Scotland’s Government published their 670-page-long vision for the future of an independent Scotland, outside of the United Kingdom. The White Paper entitled, ‘Scotland’s Future’ has long been anticipated as it finally puts Alex Salmond and the SNP’s plans in black and white.
The SNP have pushed for and supported the idea of a referendum since being in power at Holyrood. But when I asked the people of Newark about their views, there were question marks over whether a Scottish government should be asserting their ideology so powerfully when the stakes are so high for the Scottish people.
There is a feeling amongst Newark’s public that governments have a duty of care to ensure a fair debate, whilst there is a growing feeling within Scotland that a comprehensive and accurate explanation for both sides of the argument has not been forthcoming.
Suggestions were that the SNP should take note from the Tories who are taking a neutral stance over the EU ‘in or out’ debate where David Cameron is simply offering the public a chance to vote on the issue 2017.
Until now, the debate surrounding the practicalities of an independent Scotland has been limited to speculation, whilst Salmond hailed the referendum as “the opportunity to stop imagining and wondering”. Last week’s announcements put some milk into the cereal bowl in that respect.
It is the first blueprint laid down by the SNP and, strikingly, in the opening paragraphs of the White Paper there is an insistence that Scotland “will work in partnership with the rest of the UK”.
This claim was scorned upon by many in Newark whilst one person summed up the mood this morning, “If they want to leave, let them. And if they do, why should they stay in partnership with us? The whole thing would be a waste of time.”
The SNP have stated their desire to keep the sterling currency, the Queen and to remain within the EU. The key line after this reads, “That is the independent Scotland we will negotiate following a Yes vote”. Many believe Salmond and the SNP will fail to deliver on such promises as they are simply dealing with ideals at the moment.
Perhaps the public in England, and not just Newark, are envious of the fact that Scotland are able to start afresh with the chance of cherry-picking the niceties and leaving behind a lot of unwanted baggage.
The atmosphere in the market gave off a scent of wanting a fresh start ourselves; an opportunity to start imagining and wondering. I guess we’ll just have to wait until 2017 for our turn. There is just one catch to that: four more years of Cameron and co.