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Jobs, Not Independence, Scots' Priority

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TEHRAN, May 7 (ICANA) – The majority of the Scottish support their First Prime Minister Alex Salmond as he is to bring forth a bill to Westminster outlining independence from the UK, says an analyst.
Saturday, May 07, 2011 6:36:16 PM
Jobs, Not Independence, Scots' Priority

In an interview with Press TV, Humza Yousaf, Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), elaborates on the bill to be drafted before Westminster which calls for Scotland's independence, and other pressing issues affecting the patrons of Scotland.

Q: The SNP [Scottish National Party]'s unprecedented victory has been great news today. Alex Salmond has declared his intention to hold a referendum on independence, and this is while Prime Minister David Cameron said he would campaign to keep the UK together. What are the SNP's plans for the UK's future?

Yousaf: We have said very, very clearly that in a five year parliamentary term, our first few years' priority is the economy and jobs. These are the things that we hear in the doorsteps. That's the issues that we addressed and that's why we won the elections last night and today.

And the reason for that is there's a Scotland bill going through Westminster at the moment, and we don't believe it has economic teeth. It doesn't have enough economic power, economic leaver for Scotland to flourish.

Our immediate priority is to get those economic powers so that we can progress forward without creating an agenda where our cuts are not too fast and not too deep. That's our immediate priority.

Yes, the referendum is welcome to this term but it'll come towards the end of the term. We will be sure from polls that you've seen time and time again that people want that choice whether they agree with independence or they don't agree with independence. They want that choice and a referendum.

What last night showed were that negativity, fear mongering, scare mongering, and dim and gloom simply won't blacken the cause to people anymore.

Q: Will the Scottish people want independence or will that referendum be lost?

Yousaf: It's not for me to tell the Scottish people what they want and what they don't want. The immediate priority is to get economic levers, economic powers. That is important and that's what people want.

They want job security. They want Scotland to be able to be more accountable for its finances that is raises. People are trying to go for more money that it spends, and that's our immediate priority.

When it comes to an independent referendum, the people will choose, the people will decide. Whether polls show that support for independence as being great or not, it's actually not an important issue for us.

An important issue and priority for us is to get the economic powers through a bill that is going through Westminster just now. And to me, Scotland can flourish in these difficult economic times.

[Mr. Les Tropic] said it quite rightly, that people know and they can't hide it what-so-ever: they are very honest about their position on independence.

Alex Salmond in his election campaign said that if he was elected back in the government then that would give him a mandate, an authority, a moral authority to follow an independent referendum. The Scottish people knew that and they overwhelmingly backed that message.

Q: As you say, the economic problems of the UK are what's being prioritized by your party but the issue of independence is something that has been brought up, honestly, as well, and that the referendum is going to be held. Do you think that once that happens, it could lead, as I said earlier, to a headache for the coalition government and Conservative-led government? Do you think that will lead to some heated debates or issues in the political scene of the UK?

Yousaf: I think it's a debate that needs to be heard. We've had devolution for over a decade and people clearly want more. At the moment, polls may not show they want to be full-born independent but they certainly want more than what they've got right now.

What I'm saying is that a gradual approach is certainly what we're taking to the issue. Yes, it would give the coalition, the Conservatives, the London Labour and the Democrats quite a headache because the Scottish people have spoken and they've spoken loudly on this issue. They really want more than what they have right now.

Q: Do you say, in your opinion, that this alternate vote system is not fair enough, so to speak? And the alternative vote system is what the UK people, the public and the government do need right now?

Yousaf: I think there are two things that you really need to stress.

One is that the voting should not have been held on the same day as other elections. It's confusing for people. When elections are held together, you see a larger number of ballot tables; certainly an expedience of last cross elections you had previous to these and to those of [Southern]. So that is the last thing that we should be entertaining.

Secondly, to dress this up as anything other than people taking out their frustrations with the broken promises of Liberal Democrats would be absolutely disingenuous. That was the purpose; that was exactly the reason behind it.

I think there's not huge apathy at the moment to change the electoral system; I think people have much more priorities. I have just spent the last six to eight months knocking on people's doors. Nobody has once mentioned to me the voting system being a priority.

Job security, the economy problems, that is what's on people's minds - education. These are things that are forefront on people's minds, not changing the voting system.

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