UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Indy White Paper flags up need for cross border discussion

We have got the best part of a year to analyse the White Paper on Scottish Independence so any attempt to do the debate justice at this stage would be a bit previous. However, a Holyrood Magazine has thrown up some key cross border issues that will have to be adressed whatever the result.

Firstly, the launch of the White Paper has thrown up some interesting issues and quotes. Eddie Barnes (Scotsman political editor) on the eve of publication tweeted: “I see weather forecast in Glasgow tomorrow is for fog to clear around 9am”, followed rapidly by those predicting either heavy rain or glorious sunshine thereafter depending on their position.

It is probably more like ‘temperatures average for the season’ with some new concepts but largely the paper is as trailed.

The main issue is that it is not one White Paper, it is two in one. One bit is the framework for things like overriding principles and technicalities like keeping the pound and staying in NATO and getting passports and all the paraphernalia of being a separate country.

Intermingled is an SNP manifesto of what they would do if they get elected after independence. There are quite a few things in there that they could have done already under the current settlement if they had the will - but the political trick is to suggest they couldn’t.

There is huge potential for these two parts of the document to get mixed up in the debate. All the more reason why UNISON needs to keep asking the questions about the Scotland we would like to see and how best that could be achieved.

Meanwhile, Holyrood magazine (regarded as the house journal of the Scottish Parliament) has run a story entitled: “Our friends in the north - What effect could greater Scottish autonomy have on councils in the north of England? http://www.holyrood.com/2013/11/our-friends-in-the-north/

The issues raised highlight the need for cross region discussion, whatever the referendum result. As the article says: “There are a lot of people who live in the Scottish Borders, who work in Berwick or shop there, or use the station. Similarly there is cross-border working between the local authorities on issues like adult care, personal social care, as well as the obvious things like highways, roads and winter services. Looking at ourselves, Cumbria, the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, the economies are actually very similar, it just happens there is a national boundary in between.”