Common language splits big debate
How depressing it was to read the contributions of your pro-Union columnists, Professor Hugh McLachlan and Michael Kelly (Perspective, 23 August).
Professor McLachlan blandly informs us that “fiscal autonomy is a dubious goal” on the spurious grounds that for full implementation it would require the subsequent agreement of the rest of the United Kingdom, a specification which applies with no less force to the achievement of independence itself, as the Scottish Government has already recognised in its consultation document, Your Scotland, Your Referendum, which in his busy academic life he doesn’t seem to have read.
In similar vein, Michael Kelly – in dismissing the case for a second referendum question – glibly argues, echoing Lord Wallace, that “if you want to remain in the club but change the rules all the other members are entitled to a say”.
This argument seems to ignore the fact that Scotland under Westminster auspices has already had not one but two devolution referendums – first in 1979, and secondly in 1997, though, admittedly, in the first of these referendums Westminster chose to “waive the rules” and ignore an albeit narrow vote of the Scottish electorate in favour of an elected Scottish assembly.
Against this background Mr Kelly would do well to bear in mind that the current SNP administration needs no lectures about “dirty tricks” from the likes of dyed-in-the-wool unionists like himself.
In their eyes it’s not just “fiscal autonomy” that we Scots are not on any account to be allowed to have – it’s independence itself, which we can never have unless we first have fiscal autonomy.
But, oh, I forgot – in the eyes of too many unionists we nationalists are all too stupid to appreciate the connection.
IAN O BAYNE
Surely I’m not alone in finding the political nit-picking on the wording of the independence referendum both tiresome and insulting.
Do politicians really think we, the electorate, are so thick that a word here or there in the question will actually sway us either way?
I’d like to make a heartfelt plea for some real debate before 2014 encompassing the pros and cons of independence/devo-max/status quo so that we can enter the ballot booth and make an informed choice.
Many other nations can handle multi-stage and multi-question referenda, so why can’t we be allowed a referendum to express our choice of all available options? Instead, we are condescendingly told more than one question or option on the ballot paper would confuse our simple minds.
It is time our political representatives had some faith in the electorate. They do not have a monopoly on political wisdom. We are are not stupid. Let’s have less debate on process and more information on our full range of options.
The letters on the “referendum question” (24 August) make valid points but none considers the use of language.
Seemingly, the expert panel spent little time on considering the influence of language on the voter.
Surely language is used for an important purpose other than for communicating information and asking questions.
This is as a technique of persuasion, for example in advertising or in the politician’s rhetoric.
While the language used appears to be neutral, because language is symbolic it has emotional appeal.
Arguably, for this reason the expert panel’s referendum question is flawed because of the language used. Why begin with the proper noun “Scotland” (an emotional appeal) linked to the obligatory verb “should”?
A neutral statement would be “I want Scotland to be an independent state” – yes or no.
Old Chapel Walk
Members of Lord Sutherland’s group have provided an unambiguous question to replace the one proposed by the SNP (which was said to contain a hidden bias) but, by omitting the word “again”, they have created an implicit bias of another form.
Their statement, “ Scotland should become an independent state”, suggests some recently contrived secession rather than the restoration of an ancient status.
The statement should read: “Scotland should become an independent state again”.
(Dr) PM Dryburgh
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west