THE thirteenth question (sorry to the superstitious) from the Carluke and Lanark Gazette’s Independence Debate, answered by Robin McAlpine and Professor Adam Tomkins, asks what assurances each campagn can offer to farmers.
Robin and Adam kindly agreed to debate the case for Yes and No at the Gazette’s Independence Debate in Lanark Memorial Hall on May 26.
They were only too happy to answer questions posed by our readers that we couldn’t quite get through on the night, thanks to a heated meeting which 420 people attended!
So, just a matter of hours before Carluke and Lanark Gazette readers go to the polls to decide on independence, we’re bringing you their responses.
Each hour on the hour, between 8am and 10pm today, we’ll post one of the answers to a question posed by a Gazette reader.
For each question posed, we will give one opinion from the Yes camp and one from the No camp.
Question: Given the importance of farming to the economy of both Lanark and the surrounding area, I’m looking for assurances from both sides that they recognise and would protect the Scottish farming industry, not only from the threat of an Independent Scotland being unable to achieve entry to the EU, but also from the mercy of a Westminster Government which would have very different priorities in the event of a No vote.
Robin McAlpine, Yes campaign: Farming is a crucial productive industry which creates wealth right across the economy but is particularly important to the health of rural economies. Unfortunately, farming has been left at the mercy of the big supermarkets, the global food processing industry and the bankers who speculate on food prices. The result is that we’re almost force-fed cheap, processed foods in a nation with some of the world’s best fresh produce – and rural communities struggle as the profit margins in farming get tighter and tighter. We need a completely new approach which enables local food markets to be a success and the bully power of the supermarkets be controlled. But hardly any of the powers needed to do this are in Scotland’s hands. Our farms are run by Westminster and Brussells. We need to bring power back to local economies.
Professor Adam Tomkins, No campaign: I have no doubt that an independent Scotland would accede to the EU but, at the same time, I have no doubt that this could not be achieved on the SNP’s timetable (that independence would occur in March 2016). On this timetable, it would seem to be inevitable that Scotland would start life as an independent state outside the EU. This would be extremely unfortunate and would cost Scottish farmers dear in terms of lost CAP receipts.