A week after the First Minister repeated his claim that a separate Scotland would keep the Pound, we have yet more unsubstantiated claims from the SNP. The latest Nationalist assertion – that Scots would have a claim on a British identity – is as absurd as it is bewildering.
Their claim that Britain could continue after a political separation shows that the nationalists are trying to conveniently forget our history. Great Britain was created by political union; by a treaty and by Acts of the English and Scottish Parliaments. A separate Scotland can no more be part of Britain than a person can be a member of a club that has ceased to exist.
Britain is the country we live in, not the island it exists on. Our British identity is held by two thirds of Scots and it is a 300 year old partnership that provides one of the strongest examples of a stable, secure and successful political union that the world has to offer. Separation would mean Britain as we know it will cease to exist.
I have never subscribed to the theory that Scotland is “too poor or too wee” to go it alone. There are many small countries. However, if our experiences over the last few years have taught us anything it is that the biggest challenges facing the world – the economic crisis, climate change or combating terrorism – are best tackled together and not apart. Being part of the UK has given us a stronger voice.
Those Nationalists who claim that Scotland would be part of Britain even if we leave Britain are either naive, or are so terrified of their own position they refuse to spell out exactly what it would mean. It wasn’t that long ago that John Swinney, then the SNP leader, told his party faithful that they should “ask the big question – do you want independence, yes or no? And then tell the Brits to get off.”
The sheer magnitude and irreversibility of such a change rightly leads the Nationalists to tell us that independence would be the biggest change in 300 years. That is probably an accurate position to hold. What is impossible, however, is to then to simultaneously argue that nothing would really change with independence.
The Nationalists know that most people in Scotland are not buying the product they are selling, so their strategy is to sanitise independence to the point of offending nobody. So, in a separate Scotland they tell us that we’ll keep the Pound, the Queen and they’re shaping up to accept NATO. Now they want to keep Britain.
With every week that goes by, the SNP’s case for separation is falling apart. The campaign doesn’t look like the national movement that they promised. We’ve had assertion after assertion from the First Minister and now he’s trying to rewrite our history. Instead of more speculation, it’s about time he comes clean and sets out his detailed proposals for what Scots could expect in a separate Scotland.
Margaret Curran MP is Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland representing Glasgow East at Westminster.