Damaging debate

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I wonder how many people feel as I do that this interminable referendum is doing great damage to our country, causing divisions and animosity that will perhaps take a generation to overcome, whatever the final outcome. The quality of the debate has not enhanced the reputation of our politicians but this should not be a surprise when we watch or listen to debates in the Scottish Parliament. The vitriol that is widespread on social media is worrying.

The referendum is only taking place because of the failures of our political leaders, in particular the Scottish Labour Party. It is entirely due to the inadequacies of Labour, which took their majorities in Scotland for granted and failed to properly address the changing needs of the country.

It was far too easy to blame the policies of Margaret Thatcher and the “nasty Tories” for all the ills of Scotland (imagined or otherwise).

The result was that the poor quality of leadership by Labour at Holyrood encouraged a protest vote for the SNP and thus its loss of power. I suspect Mr Salmond could not believe his good fortune to find himself in power after the 2011 election, with a small overall majority in terms of seats.

In fact, the SNP did not get a majority of the votes cast, 45.4 per cent against the 53.5 per cent of constituency votes for Labour/Liberal Democrat/Conservative.

However, this was sufficient for Mr Salmond to seize the opportunity offered: a referendum achieved by accident and political failure.

Whatever the outcome, the quality of our political leaders urgently requires improvement if Scotland is to move forward, whether with independence or increased devolution.

Dennis Urquhart