Independence debate: Yes, No, Don’t Know

Mearns FM are preparing to hold an impartial Independence debate four days before Scotland decides its fate at the polls.

This week we have spoken to two members of the panel who will be at the debate taking your questions.

The event will be held at Stonehaven Town Hall on Sunday, September 14, at 7pm with the station inviting everyone along to ask questions. Ken Venters, from the community radio station, will be hosting the event.

This week we have spoken to Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone and Stonehaven Green Party spokesperson Dr Rachel Shanks to get their views before the debate in the Town Hall.

Alex Johnstone:

“There can be no doubt that, should it wish to do so, Scotland can become a separate country. Neither do I have any doubt that there are those who believe, with some passion, that it should. I hope they will learn to respect my equally passionately held position that it should not.

“For many, however, the most persuasive argument will be the economic one and that is where the case for separation breaks down. Yes campaigners have told us that Scotland is a wealthy country and promised the earth post-independence. With only days to go, they have yet to produce the figures to support their case.

“Yet we have real figures to help us make our decision. The document, ‘Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland’, published by the Scottish Government itself, shows that Scotland’s net fiscal deficit for the year ending March 31, 2013 , including a full geographical share of North Sea revenue, was £12.1 billion, or 20% of expenditure.

“Then let’s look at what the Scottish Government, using its extensive devolved powers, has done with that extra money.

‘‘They have centralised our Police Force, closed our Sheriff Courts, interfered politically in our National Health Service, stripped resources from our Local Authorities and slashed the social housing budget.

“They appear to claim that every budget will be doubled and every tax will be halved. On September 18, Alex Salmond will ask you to bet your home and your pension on it. The choice is yours, don’t be misled.”

Dr Rachel Shanks:

“Two years ago, I was thinking of voting No. The reasons I changed to Yes are to do with democracy and fairness. I thought about how Scotland could be better as an independent country and I decided this is too good an opportunity to miss.

“For me this isn’t about being Scottish, it can’t be, I’m Irish, for me this is about democracy. It is a chance to be governed only by the people we choose and have a written constitution. We can change how we are governed, not just between Westminster and Holyrood, but with a Yes vote we can bring power from Holyrood to our towns and cities.

“Imagine if Stonehaven and Laurencekirk had their own councils, would a Laurencekirk Council have built a new academy without a swimming pool? Would a Stonehaven Council have waited until 2014 to start building flood prevention measures? This is our chance to create a more democratic country in many ways.

“This is a chance to work towards a fairer country with better jobs and a more secure society. This is a chance to protect the NHS and other vital public services and to fix the banking system. This is our chance to have our say on how we are governed and who governs us. This is the chance to say Scotland’s problems, Scotland’s wealth, Scotland’s future should be decided by the people who live in Scotland.

“Please vote Yes for a fairer Scotland.”

n You can e-mail to ask the panel a question.