A “no thanks” vote to independence means a stronger Scottish Parliament within the UK, Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said today.
This week former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has set out the timetable for new laws to strengthen Holyrood. Mr Scott is urging people to support this real change supported by the great majority of people across the country. And he is arguing that a stronger parliament must reverse the damaging centralisation agenda of Scottish nationalism.
Mr Scott said: “The choice we face in Shetland and across Scotland is clearer than it ever has been. There is now a clear plan to deliver more decision making to Scotland, while keeping the back-up of being part of the bigger UK economy.
“This week we have seen the economic risks of separation as billions of pounds have been taken out of the Scottish economy. That is the real risk to the funding of our NHS. That is the reality of independence and a yes vote.
“Every vote will count in Shetland as elsewhere and anyone’s vote could make the difference between the UK staying together or breaking apart. No-one can afford a protest vote in this referendum.”
Mr Scott is encouraged that all the UK political parties have set out ambitious plans for further devolution to Scotland. On tax all parties agree that the priority is further devolution of tax powers, in particular income tax, to increase the financial autonomy and accountability of the Scottish Parliament.
With welfare all parties agree that there are benefits closely tied to devolved services which should be devolved such as housing benefit, while the core of the welfare state should continue to share risk and resources across the UK.
Mr Scott is pointing out that in the event of a no vote there will be immediate action the day after the referendum to start the legislative process with all party proposals published on 30th October and a draft Scotland Bill published by end of January.
He said: “Scotland will see change starting on the 19th September. That means our islands need to be at the heart of these reform. I will make sure the Shetland position is understood and recognised.
“We must reverse the damaging effects of central belt, one-size-fits-all politics imposed by the nationalists. A stronger parliament, with new powers and within the UK, can make that happen. There is a real opportunity to deliver lasting change for Shetland and Scotland and the best way to do that is to reject independence on the 18th.”