No way to behave

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As one of the many thousands of Scots who has yet to decide how to vote in the 2014 independence referendum, I am sure I am not alone in detecting that the contrast in tone between the Yes and No campaigns is already quite stark.

Without passing judgment on the chosen tactics of either side, I do wonder why charities are fearful of raising questions about independence because of what they perceive to be the “toxic” nature of the debate. (your report, 17 December). I 
recently read an essay by Dennis Canavan, chair of the Yes Scotland campaign, in which he said it was incumbent on the pro-
Union parties as well as their 
opponents to set out their vision for an independent Scotland.

This seemed an eminently sensible plea. But the response of Alistair Darling, the chairman of Better Together, spoke loudly about the mindset and tone of the No campaign.

To dismiss it as “typical of the Nationalists of late” is – dare I suggest it – typical of a politician displaying a worrying lack of respect for the electorate. Is it also why the debate has become “toxic”?

The pro-Union parties are 
understandably reluctant to 
concede that Scottish independence is even a remote possibility. But to presume that the referendum result is a foregone conclusion is not only crass, it is to treat voters of whatever political hue with contempt.

If Scotland does vote Yes in 2014, it is a safe bet that all political parties will be seeking our votes at the election to choose Scotland’s first independent 

It would help engender a healthier atmosphere if Mr 
Darling and his pro-Union 
coalition partners acknowledged that, changed the tone of their campaign, and started treating the Scottish people with a little more respect.

Perhaps then, people – and charities – would feel less intimidated to have their say.

Patricia Walton