EUAN McColm is right (Perspective, 3 March) to say that Douglas Alexander MP made an important contribution to the referendum debate, but it is wrong to suggest that this is the first discussion of what might happen after a No vote.
We know that the Labour Party have been looking seriously at this from last year, and will be reporting shortly at their spring conference. The Conservatives in Scotland have recently talked about a “more federal structure” although, granted, we are lacking any detail yet. The Scottish Liberal Democrats published their Home Rule, Community Rule paper last autumn, setting out very clearly where they would like to see us going.
The general direction of travel that is likely to emerge is much stronger financial powers for the Scottish Parliament, with defence, foreign affairs, economic policy, pensions and some aspects of the welfare state reserved to the UK level. Significantly, pro-Union parties have also signalled their intention to devolve powers down to local councils and further down to communities, something we don’t hear from the Scottish Government. This will add a whole new dimension to the debate, and addresses one of the failures of devolution to date.
The detail is not there yet, but neither is the detail from the pro-independence campaign. We have to wait until November for that. Their level of detail at the moment is either that everything of value will stay the same, or, if pushed, that independence can be anything we want it to be. They cannot be allowed to get away with this, and given an easy ride.
There should be greater pressure on pro-Union parties to outline their vision because a No vote is the most likely outcome, but it is the Scottish Government who are suggesting the constitutional change to independence, and they must not be let off the hook too easily either.
Victor Clements, Aberfeldy
HAVING read the press accounts of Douglas Alexander’s speech at the Playfair Library what actually was said that could allow Euan McColm to talk about a vision?
Apparently if we Scots vote No in 2014 we might have a “National Convention” which won’t discuss constitutional matters but might bring more powers to Scotland. How that is to be achieved without discussing constitutional matters is a mystery. Forgive me if I seem to have heard all this before. Labour once supported self-government for Scotland but abandoned it in 1945 when they got a sniff of power at Westminster. With SNP pressure they eventually held a referendum in 1979 but hamstrung it with an amendment to ensure that it would not achieve anything. Labour then plunged us into three decades of first Tory government and then Labour/Tory government of Tony Blair.
A Parliament was granted in 1997 but no Labour MP, including Douglas Alexander, takes it seriously, and now that we have a chance to vote for a responsible independence Douglas says “Let’s all talk” but don’t rock the boat. Any extra powers for Scotland will only be devolved to Unionist politicians who will toe the Westminster line. What a “vision” Douglas is offering us if only we are stupid enough to vote No.
George Leslie, Fenwick