Each post will be between 600-1,000 words long. Even with a subject as important as this one, its discussion be a bit dry and is best taken in bite-sized chunks. Please bear in mind that this blog makes a very good living in the real world by testing software for large organisations - we are used to analysing specifications and abhor ambiguity, irrelevance or imprecision.
If you are prepared to endure a feast of pedantry, indignation and disappointment, please read on...
This post looks at page 2 of the summary, entitled “Gains from independence – whichever party is elected”.
There are ten bulleted points on page 2 and we are not going to cover them all in detail. But they do throw up some interesting points and contradictions. They are a mix of assertions, postulations, estimations and statements, and not entirely uncontentious.
For the sake of convenience we will number the points 1 to 10.
Points 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are all assertions trying to make the point that can be paraphrased as “Local government for local people”. These are all contentious, particularly regarding the proposed membership of the EU and NATO. By definition, membership of these groups entails delegating national powers to supra-national agencies.
Point 2 starts with a statement that the system of government in Scotland will change and then continues with a fairly unrelated and irrelevant description of the current make-up of the UK government.
Point 3 seems to postulate a return to the “first-past-the-post” electoral system, unless “winning” is simply defined as gaining the largest number of seats rather than votes. In any case, does this point need made at all? Aren't governments always formed by the parties that win, wherever and however that may be? Does this necessarily preclude a government formed by independent souls, or any coalition of minor parties?
Point 4 makes that most dangerous of all political statements – a guarantee. It then descends to tabloid language in mentioning the “bedroom tax”.
Point 5 states that public services can be kept in public hands, not that they will be. This allows some wriggle room when, for example, the EU objects to a local plan to renationalise letter delivery.
Point 6 is probably the least controversial on the page – it is entirely undeniable that the entire UK government spending strategy is to benefit the are around London.
Point 7 states that we will have access to our own resources. This is true, but only in part. We will be able to regain ownership of large areas of our surrounding sea from the Crown Estates, but all of the little fishes swimming therein will still fall under the aegis of the Common Fisheries Policy. And should we ever decide to dig up some of the coal lying below the soil, EU climate directives will prevent it being burned.
Point 8 is simply a phrase, not a sentence, but we can extrapolate its meaning – which seems to be almost the same as point 6.
Point 9 states that Scotland can invest it oil wealth for the benefit of future generations although it doesn’t actually say it will. We would like to hope that some of the benefit would accrue to the present generation, particularly by providing a solid backing for the eventually inevitable Scottish currency.
Point 10 is an assertion that may be difficult to argue successfully. Even if we do banish all physical nuclear weapons from our soil, any contribution as part of our NATO membership could be construed as paying for nuclear weapons, at least in part.