Independence for Scotland would damage our ability to do good in the world

by Alastair Osborne, Scottish Officer for LCID

When it comes to the debate over Scottish independence, we believe strongly that the return of a Labour Government in 2015 would provide the best opportunity for progressive post 2015 international development goals to be pursued and achieved. We do not feel this should be put at risk by going down the unmarked road of Scottish Independence.

We welcome debate on this issue, writing about it here on our blog and welcoming the move by Anas Sarwar to secure a Commons Adjournment Debate, as well as the current investigation by the Commons International Development Select Committee.

Last week NIDOS (Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland) added their contribution to the debate with the launch of a new report.  With the support of over 100 Scottish organisations, including Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Mercy Corps, Oxfam and SCIAF, it is the most comprehensive document ever produced by the Scottish sector about Scotland’s contribution to international development.

Ahead of next year’s independence referendum, NIDOS and its members are not advocating any particular constitutional outcome. They do consider it essential that Scotland’s place in building a just world is part of the referendum debate – hence this report which they hope will stimulate a wide ranging debate.

The report sets out a framework for Scotland’s international development policy underpinned by key values: wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity as well as equality, sustainability and solidarity, and argues that any Scottish government, whatever its constitutional status, must consider the global impact of all its policies and activities, not just those directly linked to international development. In other words, any future Scottish Government (whether devolved or independent) should adopt the principle of ‘policy coherence’: the concept that all government departments and policies should comply with, and contribute to, equitable and sustainable global development. The report examines best practice which can also be adopted by the UK Government.

Labour believes there is an overwhelming case that independence would be bad for the future of our international development contribution, but the debate is an opportunity to go beyond merely arguing for a No vote, and instead, to open up a positive debate about how best Scotland and the UK can move forward to a progressive development agenda.

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