Doing a runner an affront to honour

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As has been pointed out in your columns, in the event of independence, the rUK, as the continuing state, would be legally liable for honouring the UK national debt in its entirety.

That said, most of us would unquestionably think that a proportion of the debt had been incurred in good faith on behalf of Scotland, and that Scotland would, in honour, be bound to repay its share.

Not to do so would be like leaving a restaurant without paying the bill – to do a runner. Not so, according to Alex Salmond. When rUK voters will not commit their taxes to underwriting Scottish banks and Scotland’s government debt, this, we are told, will be bullying. He will stand up to it with a Scotland default.

I cannot help thinking that if a new Scotland were to start life by walking away from its debts – by doing a runner – it would never be forgotten, least of all in England. It might well enter the English language. “Doing a runner” would become “doing a Scotland”.

I am reminded of Sir Walter Scott and his bankruptcy almost 200 years ago. He could have opted for a legal bankruptcy and paid creditors a few shillings in the pound.

He could have accepted generous offers of assistance from all over – both in Scotland and in England – but Scott would have none of it. He was a gentleman and a man of honour. He would pay both his and his business partners’ creditors himself. All he asked for was time to carry on writing.

I would like to think that if I found myself in a new Scotland that had begun life by reneging on a debt of honour, I too, like Scott, would have none of it. I might negotiate with HM Treasury in London to pay them, say, the interest on my share.

I could then continue to visit England and tell the world I personally had not scotched on my debts.

Fanciful? But I do wonder if Bravehearts really would applaud what Alex Salmond might do to Scotland’s honour.

Humphrey Passmore

Littlejohn Road

Edinburgh

Brian Monteith does his best (Perspective, 17 March) to put a positive case for the Union. Unfortunately, he ignores some of the most important issues.

Those of us supporting a Yes vote realise that, in today’s world, independence can mean different things, but we are all agreed that we want rid of Westminster control of the following:

First, pensions and benefits – it is stupid to have Holyrood controlling education, housing, health and social welfare and not to give it full control of pensions and benefits, and of course if you do that then Holyrood must control fiscal policy.

This may be modified by the necessary regulations which will be associated with a common currency. But it will still be better than the present Union with a common currency and no control at all.

Second is defence – this costs Scottish taxpayers £3.3 billion a year and yet Britain has no defence strategy for Scotland. Scotland will control 50 per cent of Britain’s territorial waters and 70 per cent of its coastline and yet, with the scrapping of Nimrod, there is no aerial surveillance of Scotland’s share of the north-east Atlantic.

There are normally no Royal Navy vessels patrolling in Scottish waters. We only have one military airfield left in Scotland. There are no special forces deployed in Scotland capable of a response within 60 minutes of any terrorist outrage.

We are planning to waste £100bn on Trident which no sane government will ever use or threaten to use.

Third is Europe – Britain has consistently failed to represent our interests in EU negotiations. This has been particularly harmful for our agriculture, fishing and regional development within Scotland.

What we want from Britain is a genuine partnership, not spiteful sniping by British ministers which displays complete ignorance of what is happening in Scotland.

As part of the overall referendum debate, maybe Brian Monteith can now give us a reasoned argument on the benefits which independence might bring us.

George Leslie

North Glassock

Fenwick

Alex Salmond claims that “the Scots were sick and tired of referendum interventions” from Westminster party leaders (your report, 17 March).

I am surprised he thinks that UK citizens outwith Scotland have no rights whatsoever to attempt to influence the debate or even express an opinion on the future of their country. This is the unacceptably intolerant face of Nationalism.

John Milne

Ardgowan Drive

Uddingston

How distressing it is to witness how the referendum debate is dividing the nation, forcing people into one camp or the other and creating tension.

Reading the papers, watching the local TV news or simply speaking to people, I am aware of conflict, disagreement and increasing bitterness, all of which grow as the unnecessarily long campaign goes on and on and on.

Now I find that I cannot even sit with friends in my local pub without the next day reading snide tweets from cybernats who happened to overhear our anti-independence conversation.

These people do no favours to the Nationalist cause.

I arrived in Scotland from the south of England in 2000 with a Scottish wife and three children proud of their Anglo-Scottish identity.

I found a nation relatively at ease with itself having recently established a parliament designed so that people of different political persuasions could work together for a better future for all.

Now that spirit of co-operation has gone as we argue and bicker about the future.

I worry about Scotland’s future after the referendum, in or out of the UK. I am fearful that the divisions now being created will not go away and I wonder what the more fanatical Nationalists might do if they don’t get their way, especially if the vote is close.

I’m afraid that, with such divisions, Scotland will no longer be the place that I have grown to love. A referendum there should be, but what a pity it has to be so confrontational and divisive, and what will be the aftermath?

Barry Turner

Musselburgh

Perhaps Joe Darby and Douglas Turner are mistaken in estimating “how long Scotland’s oil will last” (Letters, 15 and 17 March).

A distinction must be made between oil, the natural resource, “economic oil” and “political oil”. Already North Sea oil is “high cost production” and global corporations are pulling back or out. Why continue in the North Sea when there is cheaper oil and gas to be extracted elsewhere?

However, there is also “political oil”, which is claimed by both the Yes campaign and its rivals Better Together.

Will “political oil” only be recoverable and competitive with deep tax cuts or even perhaps state subsidies?

Moreover, no amount of “political oil” will make Scotland or the UK self-sufficient.

Arguably, the main issue is “security of supply”, which lies firmly for both within the sphere of global politics.

Ellis Thorpe

Old Chapel Walk

Inverurie