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Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

Christian Auer

XIII. The road to devolution

92. The Benefits of Independence, 2008

Texte intégral

1See introduction to text 91.

2This text can be read on the internet site of the Scottish National Party.

3“The benefits of independence”, 2008, [​node/​240], accessed 22 December 2008.

The primary aim of the SNP is to take Scotland forward to independence. Independence means the Scottish Parliament having full control over Scottish affairs and the right to decide when to share power with others. Independence would give Scotland the same rights and the same responsibilities as other modern nations. It would give us a voice on the world stage and a say in international bodies like the UN and EU. With an SNP government, independence would also bring greater freedom for individuals, families and communities within a society built on common interests.


The SNP wants Scotland to have what other countries take for granted—the freedom to decide what kind of society we want to live in and how we want to interact with the world around us. In other words, normality.

As individuals, we value our own independence. We accept that it is entirely natural to make our own decisions, to earn and spend our own money, and to take responsibility for our own lives. Why should we settle for anything less for our country?

As a nation, we accept the independence of other countries as normal. We do not think it strange that the people of Norway and Denmark run their own affairs. We would not expect the people of Ireland or Sweden to ask another nation to take decisions for them because they didn’t feel up to the job. Why should the people of Scotland be any different?

Most of us also want our communities to have more independence. We want to have a greater say in deciding how our public services should be funded and delivered, we want to participate in decisions which affect the environment around us and we want to contribute more to the communities we live in. That too is normal—but it won’t happen unless we start by taking control of our country and taking decisions for ourselves.


The SNP campaigned for devolution because it was a move in the right direction. Devolution has improved the way that Scotland is governed but it is not the same as independence.

The Scottish Parliament has brought a new level of democracy to our country but under devolution its powers are limited—so there is a limit to how much it can achieve.

With devolution, Westminster has kept control of crucial areas like the economy, taxation, benefits, pensions, immigration and asylum, broadcasting, defence and international affairs.

The SNP wants to see the Scottish Parliament, rather than Westminster, having these powers. This would give us equality with other nations. With independence the Scottish Parliament would be able to take decisions on all matters which affect Scotland, not just some of them.

The 300-year old Union is no longer fit for purpose. It was never designed for the 21st century world. It is well past its sell by date and is holding Scotland back.

The SNP believe Scotland and England should be equal nations—friends and partners–both free to make our own choices.


Independence would enable Scotland to become more successful. Other small European countries have higher levels of economic growth and living standards than Scotland. Independence gives those nations the powers to shape their country for the better. Scotland could have this too.

Off our east coast lies Norway, the second most prosperous country in the world. Off our west coast lies Ireland, the fourth most prosperous country in the world. Off our north coast lies Iceland, the sixth most prosperous country in the world.

These independent countries represent an arc of prosperity—and Scotland has every bit as much potential as any of them. We have abundant natural resources, an educated and skilled workforce and a globally recognised identity and reputation for quality and integrity.

With independence, Scotland could join this arc of prosperity. We could pursue economic policies designed specifically for our circumstances, to give us a stronger economy, better public services and a fairer society.

Why our economy needs independence

There is no question that the Scottish economy has been underperforming under devolution. The Scottish Parliament does not have the economic powers that our competitors have, powers which are necessary to tackle Scotland’s cycle of low economic growth.

Rather than accept this state of affairs, the SNP wants to implement an economic policy that moves our country forward. Independence would give the Scottish Parliament the powers to transform Scotland into a high growth economy and a prosperous society.

With the right policies in place we could make Scotland a much more competitive place to do business. Policies such as cutting corporation tax to 20 per cent, reducing business red tape and implementing a distinctive immigration policy to target migrants with the skills we need.

As part of a wider economic strategy, these measures would boost economic growth and produce more wealth to invest in the public services we value in Scotland, without any need to increase taxes. This approach has worked in other countries—there is no reason why it should not work in Scotland too.

Making the most of our natural resources

Independence would give us full control of energy policy—and bring home Scotland’s share of North Sea oil and gas revenues.

More than 90 per cent of the UK’s oil revenues come from the Scottish sector of the Continental Shelf. So it really is Scotland’s oil.

Over the past thirty years over 35 billion barrels have been extracted from the UK sector of the North Sea, producing a cash windfall for the UK government of over £200 billion. There is plenty of potential left in the North Sea, with as much as half of the oil yet to come and new opportunities opening up for the oil industry to the north and west of Scotland.

As an independent country Scotland could follow the example of Norway and invest a share of our future oil revenues in a fund to benefit future generations. By investing just part of our oil wealth, Scotland could have an Oil Fund worth billions within a decade.

In addition to oil, we have vast renewable energy potential. Scotland has 25 per cent of Europe’s wind and tidal capacity and 10 per cent of its wave power. There are huge, untapped opportunities for offshore energy production and for clean carbon technologies like carbon capture. The SNP is determined to harness this potential and turn it into a successful and sustainable industry.

Oil and renewables—along with a set of pro-Scottish business policies—can help transform Scottish prospects over the next 30 years. They are far too important to be left to London. It is time to move on so Scotland’s precious natural resources can help fuel our nation’s future prosperity. Why Scotland needs a voice in Europe

For too long Scotland has been forced to look on while other nations gather to discuss and tackle global issues.

As part of the UK, Scotland has had no direct role in shaping the decisions of the European Union, decisions that directly affect us and have a crucial impact on key industries like fishing and agriculture.

To become part of the decision-making process in Europe, and gain the power to stand up for our vital national interests, Scotland needs to become a member state. To become a member state, Scotland has to become independent.

We will be in good company. More than half of the new EU member states have populations similar to or smaller than Scotland. If Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania can have a seat at the top table of Europe, then why not Scotland?

Scotland in the world

Independence would give Scotland a voice on the international stage; a voice we can use to promote peace, reconciliation and fairness.

The SNP will always uphold the rule of international law. An SNP government in an independent Scotland would never send Scottish soldiers into an illegal conflict, like the Iraq war.

Independence would also enable us to honour our commitments to international development aid. With independence, an SNP government would meet the UN recommended aid contributions level of 0.7 per cent of national income as well as supporting reform of international trade bodies like the World Trade Organisation to create a more level playing field between developed and less developed nations.

How will Scotland gain her independence?

Scotland will become independent when the people of Scotland vote for it in a democratic referendum.

If a majority of those who vote in the referendum vote for independence, representatives of the Scottish government will then begin negotiations with Westminster to agree an independence settlement. While negotiations are under way, a written constitution for an independent Scotland will be drafted, which will guarantee rights for Scotland’s citizens and set out how Scotland will be governed.

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2013

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