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Carmichael: Let’s complete the job of devolution

Picture by JANE BARLOW. 9th January 2014. Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael visited the East Lothian Works in Haddington which provides a central point of contact for advice on jobs, training and skills development in East Lothian.

Picture by JANE BARLOW. 9th January 2014. Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael visited the East Lothian Works in Haddington which provides a central point of contact for advice on jobs, training and skills development in East Lothian.

 

Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael MP, was in Kirkcaldy on Wednesday to push the campaign for Scotland to stay in the union after the referendum vote.

Armed with a dossier of facts and evidence - paperwork covering everything from the costs of independence to the impact on personal finance was place on every seat at the Dean Park Hotel - he said a ‘no’ vote would allow Scotland to complete the job started by devolution.

Mr Carmichael also called for people to get involved in the debate, and not be deterred by the abuse which has blighted social media.

The Lib Dem MP said the referendum debate was ‘‘divisive by its nature’’ but added: ‘‘There is an opportunity for this to be a hugely positive experience for the country.

‘‘Everyone has a say, and no-one should be constrained from taking part.’’

He described the social media abuse of Clare Lally - the latest victim of social media abuse - as ‘‘absolutely disgraceful’’ - and continued: ‘‘This debate need not be poisonous, and if that is the way it is to be conducted then it makes for a pretty bleak future for our politics. We have to be alert to its dangers.

‘‘There should be no no-go areas in Scottish politics.’’

Mr Carmnichael told his audience a ‘no’ vote would allow the Scottish Parliament to finish the job of devolution.

He said: ‘‘Since it started, the debate has been one sided - about how to spend money and not how to raise it. We should finish the job of devolution and give the parliament extra tax raising powers and rebalance our political debate.’’

Mr Carmichael took the SNP to task over its key policies from the EU to the £ and Trident as he took questions from the floor which also highlighted some frustrations with the performance of the ‘Better Together’ campaign.
Some in the audience felt the grassroots campaign lacked passion and was not as high profile or effective as the ‘yes’ groups on the streets.

One also complained the gathering at Dean Park Hotel was only for ‘‘an exclusive audience’’ and pointed out the organisers were a London based firm and you had to ‘‘jump through hoops’’ to get a ticket - although most seemed to find the application straight forward online.

On Faslane, Mr Carmichael said: ‘‘We have never got rid of nuclear weapons simply by drawing a line on a map. There has to be meaningful multi-lateral negotiations - simply to say we are now independent doesn’t make the world a safer place.

On currency he said Alex Salmond ‘‘had no desire to keep the £’’ adding: ‘‘It is a cynical ploy to identify things that we see as important and are comfortable with, and tell us we can keep them.’’

On Europe, he said an independent Scotland would probably gain membership, but not without cost.

‘If you leave the UK, you leave the obligations of the EU treaty,’’ he said. ‘‘Would an independent Scotland get back in? Yes I think it would, but I believe it is in our best interests to stay in the union.

It will not be easy to walk away from UK and walk straight back in. That will mean complex negotiations and we will not get the same favourable terms and conditions - no rebates on budgets the UK has had since 1980s, no opt-outs of the Euro zone.

‘‘The irony of Scotland going independent is that its taxpayers will be paying towards the rebate that the rest of the Uk has and which it has just walked away from.’’

On social issues such child poverty and housing shortages, he said: ‘‘We face numerous social challenges, but these problems are not unique to Scotland - the issues in Edinburgh or Glasgow can be found in Liverpool, Birmingham and Belfast. ‘‘Never in the past have we tackled them by turning our backs on people in other parts of our country. If that is to be our approach, we will be the poorer for it.’’

 

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