This is the fourth in a series taking an inquiring (and slightly jaundiced) look at the summary of the document “Scotland’s Future”. You will need to have a copy of the document itself, which you can obtain by clicking the graphic below.
Click the pic for your own copy
This post looks at pages 4 to 7, which is the First Minister's personal message to the electorate. Given that the current First Minister is the Rt Hon Alec Salmond MSP, leader of the Scottish National Party, it is no great surprise that it is an exhortation to answer the referendum question in the affirmative.
On the whole it is good stuff. Most of the content is a restating of the high-level arguments for independence, although some very fundamental assumptions have been made. Particularly, it is assumed that the newly independent Scotland will retain membership of both the EU and NATO. It is difficult to predict a definitive future situation for either of these memberships. Various EU bigwigs have been making discouraging noises lately but there are usually reasons of local politics or personal ambition behind them.
The message seems to be heart-felt and honest. This blog is of the opinion that the FM himself is essentially an honest man, and his enthusiasm for independence for Scotland is heart-felt. We have expressed our view before that we consider him to be “the most astute politician in Britain” and see no reason to change that now. We also consider him to be clever and ambitious. In fact, this opinion extends to encompass the SNP front bench – all of them are miles better than almost anyone we've had in Westminster for many a year.
Mr Salmond's four page letter to the Scottish electorate is a good one. It covers most of the areas of interest and contention, but should probably be considered as an educated personal view rather than a definitive prediction. Much of what is mentioned is outwith the control of any new Scottish government although it is all achievable given good will on the part of any prospective collaborator.
It would be easy to imagine this letter being read out as an encouragement to the troops before the coming struggle, with the reader stood on a small wind-swept outcrop of heather-clad whinstone and a pipe band in the near distance playing Highland Cathedral. If it does rouse a few undecided voters to rally to the cause then that would not be a bad thing.
It is especially good to see him acknowledge the wealth of resource we have here in Scotland, both material and human. The message has to be got across that we are certainly rich enough to look after ourselves. The overall message is simple and compelling: “Here are the reasons why we can and should go our own way, now get off your collective arse and help us make it happen”.
But just so that no-one goes away with the impression that the letter is perfect, we have to note an instance of unfortunate ambiguity. Five paragraphs from the end we find this - “No-one is suggesting an independent Scotland would not face challenges. We would be unique if that was not the case.”
Its meaning is fairly obvious and the warning is real: independence will indeed bring its challenges and difficulties, but Scots have more than enough gumption and determination to overcome any of them. The second sentence would, though, have been better worded as “We would be unique were that the case”. It's a bit sad that a document like this, written by the First Minister and no doubt reviewed and edited by more than one other highly educated person could be issued with such an ambiguity and such bad grammar.