UK too insular

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Joan Mitchell (Letters, 14 January) responds to John Barrett’s article (Perspective, 10 January) by arguing that devolution has provided all the answers to Scottish aspirations.

Barrett’s piece had the great merit of underlining that the independence debate needs urgently to move on from the ultimately pointless framing of questions it is unreasonable to expect complete answers to, towards basic issues of identity.

The reality is there is a great gulf between devolution, however maximised, and independence. I may have the greatest respect for my neighbour, but prefer my income to come direct to me rather than for it to go to him and then receive what he thinks I should get.

In any case, to espouse devolution implies a clear recognition that the British unitary state is unsatisfactory – something is broke and needs fixing.

Devolution is the halfway house that allows England to retain control of Scotland and her resources – the entire point of 1707, of course. If something is indeed broke, why fiddle about with the pretend independence that is devolution?

Ms Mitchell’s further contention that supporting independence for Scotland is insular and inward-looking is richly ironic, given that the English are rather notorious for insularity.

Is she unaware of Ukip and the impending referendum on membership of the EU?

The question in the background she avoids is: why is an insular UK just fine and an insular Scotland bad? If there is one “nation state” that will maintain its independence at all costs, it is the English-dominated UK!

This all evokes the familiar “being on the world stage” rhetoric. The stage is, of course, for people pretending to be something they are not.

Recent rude remarks by Russian and Chinese presidential aides about Britain’s inconsequence in the world remind us that the real world powers may not put up much longer with post-imperial delusions about continuing significance.

Is there any evidence that middle-sized nations have more influence than small ones?

Outcomes in recent decades do not encourage the conclusion that the UK’s meddling is invariably helpful.

Alan Oliver

Battock Road


David Stevenson (Letters, 15 January) is right to point out that the referendum is not about the popularity of present politicians, but rather about the future of Scotland for succeeding generations.

However, many people in Scotland have close family members living in other parts of the UK. It is difficult to see how an international border, which effectively makes families into foreigners, will benefit our children and grandchildren.

David Hannay