Thank you, Presiding Officer.
In the past year, we have witnessed a Scottish Government saying anything that will help its case, no matter whether that reflects its real views or would actually damage Scotland rather than help it.
The Bank of England is to be Scotland’s lender of last resort, yet Scotland is to have no say in setting the interest rates of Scots with mortgages to pay. We have had no answers on pension arrangements after independence, and we are expected to support financial regulation being made in London, while at the same time withdrawing our representation from the places where decisions are made. The SNP is presenting not so much a vision for Scotland as a case for itself.
On the Labour side, we have presented our view that, while devolution is essential for Scotland, union and partnership are needed too. We hope and believe that Scotland makes that choice for itself next year. The choice that we face is not Scotland versus England; the debate this afternoon has been between Scots on what the best future is for Scotland.
During the debate, Labour members have questioned the assertion in the motion that only independence can solve inequality. That flies in the face of evidence that I heard when I was a member of the Health and Sport Committee from Kate Pickett, who knows a thing or two about equality in this country. She said that it was the duty of decision makers at every level to make policy that sought to reduce inequality, and she was clear that there is no silver-bullet power or policy that solves those problems. The most progressive decisions are taken by the most progressive people; where they live has nothing whatever to do with it.
Ken Macintosh was correct to point out that the SNP’s decimation of the college sector does not help, and when the Scottish Government turns this place into a talking shop to avoid defending the decisions that it has taken itself, that does not help either. A bonus for big business, with tax competition for corporations, will not help Scotland any more than it will help people in the rest of the UK, who will all lose out as a result.