A case of identity

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Will the politics of national identity be the decisive factor in determining the outcome of the independence referendum? Bill Jamieson was anxious to give credence to the views and fears of Canadian politician and philosopher Michael Ignatieff (Perspective, 3 July).

The eminent academic was keen to draw on the experience of the Balkans and Quebec to highlight the effect of split loyalties on individuals. What he refers to as “separatism” and “secession” can create, he feels, a negative dilemma for many people.

No doubt he is right to suggest that many voters will take into account their feelings of identity before voting. But the vast majority will have more practical concerns.

They will look at what the Union has delivered for them in material terms over a long period, and what an independent Scotland might deliver for 
them and their families in the future.

The controversy over tuition fees and university research funding is a case in point.

So too are the appalling levels of poverty highlighted in recent reports, and the relatively low pensions by European standards.

We can add to this the prospects for jobs in the growth sectors of the economy, subsidies for key areas of renewable energy, payment of benefits and welfare reform.

The key question that will concern many is not how Michael Ignatieff thinks people perceive themselves. It is what are the best constitutional arrangements to allow an economy to flourish and meet people's needs.

That will be a much higher priority not just for the three quarters of a million voters born elsewhere in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world.

It will be the prime concern of those who were born in Scotland and lived here most of their lives.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court

Glenrothes