Salmond may be punished for deceit over Europe

analyses how this latest revelation could have damaging consequences on Alex Salmond’s independence campaign

Photo credit: Scottish Government via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo credit: Scottish Government via Flickr Creative Commons

After the SNP conference it seemed like there was finally some clarity on the nationalist’s plans for how an independent Scotland would function when the party changed their stance on NATO.

However this week has proved that the Scottish Government are still refusing to provide detailed policies and has provoked serious questions about whether Salmond and his team can really be trusted.

Earlier in the week it was revealed that First Minister Alex Salmond had mislead the public over what legal advice the SNP had taken on Europe.

Deception is a word that should be used carefully, however in this case it seems to be exactly what the SNP have done. When asked repeatedly if they had taken any legal advice over Europe, Salmond assured opposition parties that he had. In actual fact he had taken none.

Firstly it is ridiculous that a party whose key policy is independence has not looked into this given the importance of the EU membership and its implications.

But worse is that the SNP had made assurances, that Scotland would get direct entry into the EU and would be able to keep the pound, based solely on the wisdom of the SNP top brass.

As suspected by opposition parties there is no guarantee Scotland would get direct entry and with trade and currency implications hanging on this the SNP should have sought legal advice before securing a referendum.

For years Salmond has dismissed the Westminster parties as untrustworthy and called for more transparency and he had a point given the corruption UK politics has seen in recent years.

However he has now proved he is merely on the same platform as those he criticised. Many long suspected the SNP had something to hide over the EU after the Scottish Government refused to disclose the legal advice they had supposedly sought. To make matters worse they then brought in teams of lawyers and agreed to fight a court case in December at a cost to taxpayers of £12,000. This is a disgrace on two levels; first deception and then using taxpayer funds to cover it up.

Whichever side of the independence debate people support the there needs to be more clarity and vague policies are no longer enough. This is the most important poll in Scottish history, if not British, so it is up to both sides to make their arguments clear. EU Membership is one huge area that we now know the SNP have no answers on but where else could there be a cover up?

Adil Bhatti, who resigned this weekend, makes it three senior figures that have quit this week over the SNP’s decision on NATO. Bhatti, a key supporter of Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s, said “The sight of the First Minster being caught lying” was the final straw and indicated that his resignation was only the tip of the iceberg.

Perhaps then more questions over the SNP’s policies will be raised not just from opposition parties but from within their the parrty itself and this could be the real problem for Salmond who has got used to having a strong party behind him.

Now that the referendum has been agreed it was hoped that a transparent debate could take place. However this week has proved the SNP and the Yes campaign are still not willing to give enough detail on their vision. It is time they acted more responsibly in this debate and if they don’t start treating the Scottish public with more respect they will be punished.

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