Independence Referendum

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd March 2017.

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Photo of Iain Gray Iain Gray Labour

Our position, clearly, is that it is possible to create a much more federal United Kingdom that far better meets the needs of the people across this nation.

I said that the two Governments are not listening to each other; Mr Swinney makes it clear that they are not listening to anybody else, either.

The First Minister told the Scottish people that her defining mission, her top priority and her sacred responsibility is education, but her defining mission is, was and always shall be independence. In 2007, independence was the SNP’s mission. We had a national conversation on independence, a draft bill on independence, a white paper on independence and another white paper on an independence referendum.

In 2011, independence was its mission. We had negotiations on an independence referendum, an agreement on an independence referendum, a section 30 order on an independence referendum, the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Act 2013, an independence white paper and the referendum itself.

This session of Parliament is not a year old and we have had a national survey on independence, a draft independence referendum bill, an independence growth commission and now a section 30 demand. This is not a two-day debate—the debate has raged in and ravaged this country for the 3,500 days of 10 long years. In that time, our schools have haemorrhaged teachers, child poverty has soared, literacy and numeracy have plummeted, our national health service has reached breaking point and our economy has stalled. Yet, after 10 years, there are still no answers on the big questions about currency, the EU, trade terms, borders and the cuts that would be required by independence.

The First Minister says that the people’s voice must be heard. She has conversed with them, consulted them and asked them the once in a lifetime question. They gave their answer, and it was no. Now the people are saying, “Enough is enough. It’s time to stop the campaign, not restart it. It’s time to heal the wounds, not reopen them.” Listen to them, First Minister. For the love of Scotland, listen to them.