A missing link was apparent in Henry McLeish’s plea at the Edinburgh International Book Festival for Labour to embrace devo-max (your report, 13 August).
It was that it should act now, certainly at the party’s annual conference in Manchester in October.
Simply to wait until the months before the independence referendum in 2014 would be to court public cynicism.
But action now, following a vigorous debate at the conference, might be seen not as opportunistic but visionary.
The Labour party leader Ed Miliband may well be tempted to leave the whole matter to his party’s operation north of the Border.
Devo-max, however, is an approach that seeks to give maximum autonomy to Scotland within the United Kingdom.
Leadership is partly about the ability and strength to set the terms of the debate.
He can do that not by equivocation about a second question, but by saying now that he accepts the case for more, stronger, devolved powers.
More importantly, he should say now what those extra powers will be and what he thinks they might mean.
One other shortcoming in Mr McLeish’s analysis was startling. The real dilemma for Labour at the moment is not whether it should work with prominent Conservatives for a No vote.
It is whether it waits for 18 months to decide on whether it wants a second question or whether it opts for devo-max now.
The broad public may well accept the case against independence in 2014 if it sees that a Labour government, elected the following year, will implement its devo-max vision.
But if all it sees is delay, indecision and a patronising approach towards independence, it will be lukewarm to Labour and play right into the hands of the Nationalists.
It would appear that unionist MPs such as Douglas Alexander are again speaking of “separation” (“Collective achievement of Team GB athletes brought about nationalists’ nightmare scenario”, 13 August).
Their failure to use the “D” word in respect of foreign policy, foreign affairs and going to war will not be missed by many.
In these matters the opposite of independence is dependence and in these arenas unionists are unashamedly running a campaign for dependence. They invite us to make the assumption that in respect of world affairs the Scottish view of the world will always be concomitant with that of Westminster – something which strains all credulity.
Hopefully the time will come when we Scots will be allowed a certain independence of mind.
In November, the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico will go to the polls in a referendum to help decide its status in relation to the United States. The first part of the referendum will ask voters if they want a change in status or prefer to remain part of the US commonwealth.
The second part will then ask that voters choose from three options: statehood, independence or remaining a US territory.
Previous referendums on the political status of Puerto Rico have been held in 1967, 1993 and 1998, all of which resulted in a majority being in favour of territorial status.
In Scotland, there could be a simple case of two ballot papers being presented to the electorate. The first asks whether they favour constitutional change or not, with the second presenting the options of devolution max or independence.
Should a majority not favour constitutional change in the first question, the second would become null and void.
It is quite intriguing to note how the Puerto Ricans can be trusted to be capable of choosing from a variety of options, fully representing the views of the Puerto Rican people, but in Scotland the unionist parties deem that somehow we are not, and must face a blunt Yes or No choice to Scottish independence.
Andrew Anderson (Letters, 9 August) repeats his assertion that the SNP should cease to exist after independence.
The SNP was founded with two objectives: independence and the furtherance of all Scottish interests.
When the first objective is gained the second remains.
It is logical, and some might argue morally imperative, for the SNP to seek to form the government of Scotland after independence – particularly in view of the state of other parties in Scotland and of their current attitudes to Scotland and to independence.
Independence needs to be well used.
My expectation is that the SNP will continue for the immediately foreseeable future and that when independence is regained some members will leave the SNP for other parties or for none and some members of other parties, or of none, will join the SNP.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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