Better Together urged to reveal what No vote would mean for Scotland

The pro-UK Better Together campaign must set out in detail what a No vote in the independence referendum would mean for Scotland, according to Nicola Sturgeon.

The Scottish Government has provided "a compelling case for independence" in its Scotland's Future white paper, and unionists must respond with a competing vision, the deputy First Minister said in a speech at St Andrews University on Monday.

The speech has been described as the "curtain-raiser" to the 2014 independence campaign as the referendum approaches on September 18.

Speaking ahead of the St Andrews address, Ms Sturgeon said: "The referendum is not a choice between change and no change.

"It is about choosing the kind of change we want for Scotland and who we want to be in the driving seat of it, ourselves, or Westminster. It is a choice between two futures.

"That means that the consequences of both a Yes vote and No vote need to be considered carefully. And that means both the Yes and the No campaigns have an obligation to inform.

"Those of us on the Yes side take that responsibility seriously. In November, the Scottish Government published the independence white paper, Scotland's Future, setting out the practicalities and opportunities of what will happen if Scotland votes Yes.

"I believe it sets out a compelling case for independence. It gives robust, credible and common sense answers to the legitimate questions that people have.

"I am happy to let you - the Scottish people - be the judge of it.

"But to make an informed choice between these two futures, you also need to know what a No vote will mean for Scotland.

"Now, as we enter this next, vital phase of the campaign, it is time for the No campaign to spell that out in detail to allow you to compare and contrast the competing visions for the future of Scotland and make your own minds up."

She stated that anecdotal evidence suggested there was already "a pronounced movement" away from a no vote among traditional Labour supporters.

During a speech to an audience composed of members of the public, university academics and staff, she argued that the "transformational potential of independence" was the "over-riding" reason to vote yes on September 18.

"And it should be a reason to vote yes, regardless of what party you vote for," Ms Sturgeon said.

She continued: "We all want Scotland to succeed - no party has a monopoly on that ambition.

"If you accept the principle that the best way of ensuring success is to give ourselves the powers that help determine it, then it doesn't matter whether or not you support the SNP or our specific plans for using those powers."

Ms Sturgeon said party loyalty should not be a "decisive factor" in the debate.

She added that while persuading Labour voters was not "an exclusive focus" of the Yes campaign as the referendum approaches, "arithmetic and the political shape of Scotland would determine that we would want to convince traditional Labour supporters to vote yes".

Ms Sturgeon said: "The argument that is very powerful with Labour voters is the argument of making sure that we have the ability in Scotland to have the kind of economy and society that we want to have, and not one that is determined by Tory governments that we don't vote for.

"That is hugely powerful for Labour."

She added: "I struggle to understand why a Labour politician would prefer to have a Tory prime minister in Downing Street than have a Labour prime minister in Edinburgh."

The Deputy First Minister also reiterated calls for the unionist campaign, or the UK Government, to produce its own version of the white paper, setting out Scotland's future if it remains in the UK.

"There are many questions that need to be answered by the no campaign," she said.

A Better Together Spokesman said: "The SNP are the ones saying that we should take the risky step of leaving the UK, but they cannot even answer the most basic questions like what currency we would use if we go it alone.

"People understand that devolution inside the UK works for Scotland. We have the best of both worlds.

"Our Scottish Parliament allows us to make decisions on the areas that matter most like health, education and childcare, and we get the strength and security of being part of one of the world's biggest economies.

"Why should we trade the success of devolution for the risk and uncertainty of independence?"

More About Referendum

People who read this story also read