JOYCE McMillan is entirely correct (Perspective, 10 January) in her analysis of the democratic deficit in most government decision-making. The reduction in membership of the main political parties is only part of the problem, as the feeling of exclusion from any sort of influence felt by ordinary citizens has been going on for much longer.
Most of us in Scotland feel that we are a more caring and egalitarian society than other parts of the United Kingdom, although this is not always borne out when specific attitudes are examined in opinion polls. Apart from decision-making being made nearer home, and of course this can be addressed by further devolution, I can find no evidence to back up the claim that “Yes voters aspire for a 21st century social democracy”.
Assuming that the majority of Yes supporters are SNP supporters, my experience of years of political activity is that many of their activists are arrogant and intolerant. Nor does the SNP government with its centralising zeal (see for example the police force and local government) give much hope for meaningful reform. I have looked in vain in the white paper for independence for any evidence of reform which would convincingly address this deficit.
Unfortunately, one has to look elsewhere for this problem to be addressed. Although coming from a left-wing perspective, the Government By The People report from the Jimmy Reid Foundation gives an excellent analysis of the problems as well as some suggestions for the future. Coming closer to the independence issue, the Campbell Report for Home Rule, produced for the Liberal Democrats, deserves to be taken more seriously.
Unfortunately, the toxic effect of the coalition at Westminster on Scottish voters makes its promotion an uphill task.
(Dr) Charles Corser
Linlithgow, West Lothian
I DO not think Joyce McMillan adds much to the independence debate but she does reflect what many Scots think (“No change suggests a bleak future”, Perspective, 10 January).
I find it strange and far from reassuring that there is no groundswell of centre-left opinion south of the Border outwith the Home Counties and Middle England generally: just an apparently mute acceptance of the inevitability of plutocratic and corporatocratic rule.
This is perhaps understandable given the global stranglehold of the neoliberal consensus.
It will take an awful lot of faith to believe that Scotland, especially within a sterlingzone dominated by the English Right, can escape from this stranglehold and develop along Scandinavian lines without the latter’s history and traditions.
And let’s face it, the prospect of a Scottish prime minister whose main fiscal ambition is to reduce corporation tax does not fill one with great confidence.
THE independence vote will be won or lost on three issues, immigration, the European Union and wind turbines.
Alex Salmond, not the SNP, wants more immigration but most Scots want immigrant numbers cut and hardly any want increased immigration.
I wonder how the 200,000 unemployed Scots feel about Alex Salmond’s immigration plans? I wonder how those Scots on long social housing waiting lists will feel?
The majority of the British public want out of the EU and this is reflected in Scotland. Then there is the growing hatred of wind turbines which do nothing but increase our energy bills, despite what the spin doctors, developers and landowners would have us believe.
There will be even more opposition to independence when Scottish voters realise that their energy bills will escalate if they vote Yes.
The reason? At present, wind turbine subsidies are paid for by all the households in the UK but if the vote is Yes then the English and Welsh will refuse to pay for Mr Salmond’s wind obsession.
Linlithgow, West Lothian
PERHAPS it comes with age but yesterday, as I applied for my senior citizen rail card, I was wondering if this would still be valid across borders in the event of independence. It started me thinking.
Would our phone numbers (0131 etc) still be valid, would the cost of phone calls to my children down south increase, what would be the cost of a package to Oxford … the list goes on.
While we do have to debate the major issues of currency, defence, etc, I can also see 101 things that might just change life dramatically. One thing that would help this year would be the truth.
STEUART Campbell chose to nitpick a very measured and thoughtful article contributed by Ib Hansen which sought to draw potential comparisons between Scotland and the Nordic countries (Letters, 10 January).
Of course, it suits Unionists to use emotive language about “breaking up the UK” and making Scotland a foreign country. In that sense it also suits Unionists to perpetuate the myth that, on independence, we will suddenly become totally estranged from all our friends and relatives in England.
However, Mr Hansen, in describing the solidarity which exists between the Nordic countries, says, “We are all fiercely independent and jealously guard our sovereignty. The point is we are independent, we are not separate”. Mr Campbell then ends by arrogantly speaking for us all when he says we do not want to be like Denmark. Well, I think he may have got that one wrong.