Clinton’s opinions are worth hearing

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When a former United States president opines on the mechanics of the Scottish independence debate, it is wise to listen (your report, 22 June).

At first it might seem strange that Bill Clinton should suggest that we can make a decision without “tearing the place apart”. His own country gained autonomy through armed revolution; there are plenty of questions to be asked, too, about American involvement in various independence campaigns throughout the world and throughout the history of the last century.

It would certainly be useful, however, if his diplomatic skills could be put to use to overcome the impasse between the Holyrood and Westminster governments.

Last year, the Electoral Commission suggested there was a need for both sides to present more information on the process of getting to independence. It doesn’t seem to me that much progress has been made on that count. At the moment, the public is watching a perpetual cycle of claim and counter claim.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has frequently said that it is not his place to make the case for change. He will simply react to what proposals are put forward. That needs to be replaced by a more positive approach to engagement by the Cabinet in London. It should be reciprocated by a less punitive approach form the Yes side to those who want to assert their pride in being Scottish and their commitment to the Union.

Mr Clinton’s sense of history will remind him of the key role that Scots played in shaping American independence. He might yet play a key role in helping this country to make an informed choice about the way forward.

Bob Taylor

Glenrothes, Fife

When Foreign Secretary William Hague says that the UK will be “diminished” if Scotland becomes independent (your report, 21 June), he really means that Great Britain will have to scale down its pretentions to still being a world power (with, for example – and obscenely – the third-highest military/arms expenditure in the world). An excellent idea for a small island on its uppers.

To Hague, and to such as Scottish Labour’s Anas Sarwar – who recently advocated that the Scots should not vote for independence because this “will be a betrayal of the poor and underprivileged in Birmingham and Newcastle” – the response has to be: the betrayal is that of the Conservative and Labour parties.

Scotland now needs to solve its problems, and achieve real prosperity, with Scottish solutions. Scotland has been a compliant and loyal resource for 300 years and still has scandalous levels of deprivation.

Being in the UK hasn’t worked, and is set to get worse. Independence (for England too, remember) is the big idea whose time has come.

David Roche

Scone

“The United Kingdom” was not formed by “uniting the realms of England and Scotland” (Irvine Inglis, Letters, 22 June). It was formed in 1800 by the union of the “Kingdom of Great Britain” (formed by the Union with Scotland Act 1706 and Union with England Act 1707) with the “Kingdom of Ireland” (since reduced to Northern Ireland).

Consequently, separating Scotland would still leave a “UK”, but it would be called “the United Kingdom of England and Northern Ireland”.

STEUART CAMPBELL

Edinburgh

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