Road to independence is well trodden

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Bill Jamieson (Perspective, 6 June) raises the question yet again about how to define independence. You would think no other country has ever done this before. In fact, it is a well-trodden path.

At which stage did Canada achieve “true” independence? In 1867, when it became a “federal dominion”? In 1931 with the Statute of Westminster, which brought autonomy from the British Empire? With the 1982 Canada Act, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence?

When did Australia become independent? In 1901, when it became a self-governing colony? In 1931, with the Statute of Westminster? In 1986, with the Australia Act?

What about currency? The Irish Free State was formed in 1922, but only in 1949 did it become a republic. Only in 1979 did it break the one-for-one link between the Irish pound and the pound sterling and it adopted the euro in 1999.

New Zealand joined the League of Nations and began pursuing an independent foreign policy in 1919 but only in 1933 did it introduce its own coinage.

A Yes vote in the referendum will make possible various alternative paths of development.

It will then be up to the people of Scotland to decide how far and how quickly they want to travel.

A No vote, on the other hand, offers stagnation and back-pedalling.

Mary McCabe

Circus Drive

Glasgow

In the debate on the economics of independence, and the currency issue in particular (Bill Jamieson, Perspective, 6 June), the Irish experience is quite interesting.

For more than 75 years after a degree of independence was granted in 1922, the “punt” was tied to sterling. These are years associated in the main with low growth, together with steady emigration and paucity in public services.

In 1979 the Republic joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, and 20 years later the eurozone itself. Those latter years were times of prosperity in the south of Ireland only partly because the currency was no longer directly linked to sterling.

Now the country has problems partly because of its membership of the zone. The currency and its links are only one factor, though an important one, in determining whether a country has the levers to promote growth.

Problems exist, of course, with drawing too many parallels between the Scottish and Irish experience.

Nobody wants to see independence achieved here by prompting a murderous civil war, stifling censorship, unacceptable poverty levels, and social divisions that might take generations to heal. A joint currency with the rest of the United Kingdom may well be the most practical way forward for the next decade.

It need not be a permanent feature. In the Dail debates on the Irish Peace Treaty, its main negotiator Michael 
Collins said: “In my opinion it gives us freedom, not the ultimate freedom that all 
nations desire and develop to, but the freedom to achieve it.”

That might well be a motto for the Yes campaign in helping it overcome its current difficulties.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court

Glenrothes

Clearly, the leading lights in the SNP’s faltering campaign to tear the UK apart are suffering from a misperception of the current state of 
affairs.

Finance secretary John Swinney attempts to portray the increase in investment in Scotland as an illustration that people have no fear of Scotland going it alone and that this is an encouraging sign that the international community has confidence in its administration.

Somewhere out on a distant limb, former SNP leader Gordon Wilson admits that the 2014 referendum will be lost. Indeed, the bookies, as Bill Jamieson explained, are offering odds of 10/3, which he kindly explained to those of us who, unlike Alex Salmond, are not gamblers, means that they do not foresee any great likelihood that the SNP will win either.

Even their backer, Jim McColl, seems to think the UK is a good thing, but does not seem to have read the small print in the SNP manifesto which says “break up” in front of “the United Kingdom”.

The lesson to be drawn from the encouraging investment figures by foreign companies in Scotland is, of course, a recognition that the UK is a sound bet; we are not in the euro and not pursuing economic policies such as the French are, or that the Labour Party and SNP propose.

They recognise the solid reliability of the continuing United Kingdom.

Mr Wilson’s desperation is illustrated by his stated aim of talking Britain down and of making no bones about it.

Is it any wonder, when
that is the sum total of his vision, that even the SNP thought it should drop him as leader?

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive

Edinburgh

Strong views are expressed in your columns (6 June) of greatly increasing foreign investment, which will support our trans­formation into a rich independent country.

I think the contributors have failed to allow for a number of “buts” such as the many orders we have given to foreign ­countries.

We are purchasing windmill blades from China, the only country to possess a source of the necessary key material for the blades.

We have also placed an order for the new Forth bridge with a Chinese engineering company. I have seen no information about the contract price.

But it was unfortunate that the order was placed just about a week before the UK government had announced the re-opening of a steel mill in north-east England.

How would a quote from it have compared? We cannot say.

We also have the joy of having the major mail order warehouse in Fife, a massive investment; it was only recently we heard that it pays virtually no tax.

I think we need to know a lot more detail before we comfort ourselves about these marvellous investments from abroad which will help us to be rich when we are “on our own”.

And I feel that I need a lot more published information about this latest wonderful ­revelation.

James Hall

Colinton Grove

Edinburgh