Indyref debate full of contradictions

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Two headlines (21 September) exemplify the contradictions at the heart of the constitutional debate.

Front page: “Dugdale: Labour MSPs free to back end of UK”, and Letters: “We should vote on independence soon”.

What a lot of inconvenience we would all have been saved had Tim Flinn’s contemplative statistical theories been applied in 1997 when only 45 per cent of the electorate voted for devolution.

And prior to that, we would not have had the 13 years of the now discredited Labour government under Tony Blair with his 176 majority on much less than 50 per cent of the vote. We recall his description of the devolved parliament as resembling a parish council.

Regarding us knowing about our nation’s future, how many realise that the so-called new income tax powers are virtually meaningless – if we increase the rate of tax (the last thing Scotland needs) we would keep the proceeds, but an equivalent sum would come off the block grant, so there would be no available extra money.

All that would happen is that we would, by our own hand, increase our tax and reduce our share of the block grant which we are already paying the tax to provide.

If in doubt, refer to paragraph 78 of the Smith Commission Report.

It is disingenuous for Scottish Secretary David Mundell to challenge the SNP on what use they will make of these imaginary powers, while implying an SNP victory in 2016.

Regarding Allan Sutherland’s contention about the SNP’s eight years in government, they were in power for only four – they were thwarted by having only 47 out of 129 seats.

Furthermore, they are 
constrained by the annual 1 per cent £250m shortfall built into Labour’s Barnett formula.

During Labour’s eight-year regime, 20 per cent of school-leavers were illiterate and innumerate, and university principals were running courses to bring new students up to standard. Strangely, Labour now knows all the answers in opposition!

But the astonishing 
contradiction is Kezia Dugdale being “mired in confusion” with her freeing up Labour MSPs to support independence. Did she consult Alistair Darling about that?

It’s only a matter of time before she tells us that the SNP could never achieve independence, that it was Labour’s big idea all along, and it is only Labour that can deliver it! Watch this space.

Douglas R Mayer

Thomson Crescent


It is an interesting idea by Kezia Dugdale to get pro-independence Labour voters back on board by letting elected representatives back independence if they so wish.

It may depress the SNP vote next May; even more so if evidence is correct in saying that ex-Labour voters are impressed by Jeremy Corbyn.

If the SNP cannot get a majority of seats next May, then they would not be able to pass legislation for a second referendum. However, would Labour be able to keep such people on board?

Leading on to another point; would this not be a kind of Trojan Horse for 
Labour, ie letting pro-
independence supporters into the party – letting the enemy in through the gates? One thing is for sure: we live in interesting times!

William Ballantine

Dean Road

Bo’ness, West Lothian

A problem facing the unionist side in the continuing independence debate, one lamented of late, is that it doesn’t really have a cause. It only has a mundane status quo to pit against the exciting possibility purveyed by the Yes camp.

Yes is the intoxication of a new romance; No is a long-established marriage, flawed and not very exciting maybe, but stable and mostly content.

It’s not necessary, however, to create a case for the Union on some higher, idealistic plane. It’s merely necessary to submit the SNP’s idealism to the test of hard reality.

To this end the Better Together camp could do much worse than to distribute copies of Much Cost, Little Benefit, a study of the economics of separation by the Edinburgh-based Scottish Research Society, to every household, every secondary school and every library in Scotland.

This document sets out in chilling detail the flaws and folly of the SNP’s economic case for independence.

An example of Project Fear? Certainly, because there’s every reason to be frightened, and reason too to be fearful of change when that change is so patently for the worse.

There are some – perhaps 25-30 per cent of the population – who pursue independence with the monomaniacal fervour of a Captain Ahab; nothing will deflect them from their course.

But I believe a strong vein of common sense runs through the Scottish people and many of those who have been beguiled by the SNP’s propaganda can be persuaded to see the case for preserving the Union.

In the face of hard facts any positive vision of independence fades like Brigadoon into the mist, hopefully for ever – but a hundred years will do.

Paul Wright

Davidson’s Mains