Pro-independence thinktank releases white paper with new ideas to build a new country
A RADICAL and new report has been released by the pro-independence thinktank Common Weal revealing its vision to redefine and rejuvenate the institutions and governing bodies of an independent Scottish state.
Called the White Paper Project: Version 1.0, its authors say it is an attempt to ensure that a prospective independent Scotland hits the ground running with fully functioning and unique structures of governance.
Its writers also say that the paper will give fresh energy to the independence movement in the light of questions on whether a second referendum will be called following the UK’s pending exit from the European Union (EU). It comes as supporters of independence prepare to gather at the next Scottish Independence Convention at the weekend (14 January).
CommonSpace looks at the new elements of the White Paper as we break down the five big things to take away.
Giving more bang for Scotland’s buck
In the future, Scots would able to grumble or praise a new institution with the ability to tax and spend on their behalf.
A new Scottish Treasury will regulate all taxes collected in Scotland, keep an eye on banking and look at how the economy overall is developing.
Additionally, Scotland with its own central bank could be better placed to deal with debt and technical matters such as interest rates.
A new force to defend the nation and its people
Common Weal has also looked at creating a new defence force for Scotland that better reflects a smaller and less aggressive country.
These armed forces would not engage in global conflict but go on peacekeeping missions around the world backed by the UN. A new proposed Scottish coastguard service would protect the country’s sea lanes and police smuggling, doubling up with officials of the Borders, customs and immigration service.
In terms of our foreign policy – Scotland’s defence forces would not have a global “blue water” navy or copy the UK’s global policemen’s role but scale down and dismantle its Trident nuclear missile system based at Faslane.
Scotland to arrive at the ambassador’s reception
How can Scotland project its image peacefully around the world? The white paper looks at setting up foreign relations offices known to policy wonks as consular offices.
As a result of becoming independent, Scotland would require a new set of offices abroad to help with diplomatic relations and national influence.
This foreign office network would have a budget of around £2m per year per office.
A Scotland that clamps down on tax loopholes
At last year’s Scottish budget, the Scottish Conservatives said that the Scottish Government’s budget made Scotland the most taxed nation with the UK.
Political parties often bicker about amounts but the thinktank has chosen to focus more on the how and what taxes are collected.
Called Revenue Scotland, a Scottish tax collection agency could have its own tax code within three years and be empowered to administer land taxes and clamp down on loopholes and tax avoidance.
Advocates argue that, as there is already a Scottish tax code number for everyone in Scotland transferring after independence from HMRC to a Scottish tax authority would be easy and not require an entirely new institution.
A government that powers Scotland for the people
The White Paper suggests that an independent energy regulator should be established and a department for energy to make sure energy policy in Scotland is long term in thinking.
It is proposed that any renewable projects above a certain size are at least 50 per cent owned by a Scottish public body that would reinvest its profits back to Scotland.
In addition - is it claimed that a future government could guarantee lower energy bills by insisting that all infrastructure investment should come from general taxation.
Pictures courtesy of Defence Images, Siemens, David Catchpole
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