Question of Independence: you decide

Next Thursday, across Kincardine, Mearns and the whole of Scotland, people will be heading to the ballot box to cast their vote.

Last week we spoke to two members of Mearns FM’s Independence Debate panel. The event will be held at Stonehaven Town Hall this Sunday, September 14, at 6.45 for a 7pm start with the station inviting people along to ask questions.

Ken Venters, from the community radio station, will be hosting the event.

This week we have spoke to the other two members who will make up the four-person panel. Labour MSP Jenny Marra will no longer be taking part and has been replaced by party colleague Lewis MacDonald who is joined by SNP MSP Nigel Don.

Nigel Don:

“This referendum is about the constitution: It’s about who will be making Scotland’s decisions, not about the policy choices themselves, and it’s certainly not about one politician or another.

“But changing the constitution has to be put in the wider context of issues like the currency, the EU, NATO, UK pensions, and general financial affordability.

“Of course, we can be a successful independent nation and this has been agreed by all sides; just as we can keep the pound.

“Given that we are European citizens our rights as such cannot be removed by the UK parliament and we will remain a part of the EU unless the whole of the UK is taken out, and that will only happen if we stay within the UK.

“While we may have to re-join NATO they will want that to happen without a break; we are strategically important, not least because we guard the north-western corner of European airspace.

“Your pension is safe and the UK pensions minister, Steve Webb, helpfully confirmed this back in May.

“And, yes, we can afford it. Lots has been written and said about this but the Financial Times summed it up in February: “An independent Scotland could expect to start with healthier state finances than the rest of the UK”

“The choice is about the opportunities the future brings. Do you want Scotland’s decisions to be made by Scots in Scotland or by a Westminster government?”

Lewis MacDonald:

“Scotland’s choice is whether to continue the devolution journey, towards a better-balanced relationship with our neighbours within the Union, or to break away and set up a separate sovereign state.

“I am voting No because I believe that independence would be the wrong choice. We should seek to break down barriers where we can, not to put them up where they don’t exist.

Labour set up the Scottish Parliament in 1999 because we wanted to increase democratic accountability, decentralise government and rebalance the relationship between the different nations of the UK.

“We want to take that further after the next election. A No vote will allow Scotland to go forward as an equal and self-governing partner within the UK. A Yes vote, on the other hand, will end devolution and divide this island into two separate and competing states.

“Membership of the UK gives Scotland access to a home market 12 times the size of the Scottish population. It gives our young people far greater opportunities in employment and education. It makes us part of one of the most successful, progressive and democratic countries in the world.

“We should not put all of that at risk, especially when the Yes side have so little to say about how they think independence would help us to meet the challenges we face. We should vote No in the referendum, then pull together to find the best way for Scotland to play our full part in the Union, and in the wider world.”

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