Shared interests

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I hesitate to tell a retired Royal Navy officer that he should get out a little more. Angus Young (Letters, 29 July) seems to think that an independent Scotland will be unable to man its armed forces due to limited areas of operation and promotion prospects, and will lack the competence to fly aircraft or handle sophisticated equipment.

As a former Merchant Navy officer who also travelled the world, I can assure Mr Young that if he should visit Denmark, Norway, Sweden, or dozens of other countries comparable to Scotland, he would find perfectly competent navies, air forces and armies, all operating the most modern equipment without any problems, and co-operating with their friends. Scotland would be no different.

Independence would also result in there being at least some ships in Scottish waters, which is a rarity at the moment.

As for his assertion that Scotland would be denied any of the ships and aircraft which our taxpayers have paid for down the years, this is just the same old selfish argument of “Project Fear” that claims that all the assets of the UK will remain with Westminster.

I wonder if that also applies to the national debt of £1.3 billion.

James A Duncan

Rattray Grove

Edinburgh

Angus Young cites international law in claiming that a “seceding state” is only entitled to a share of fixed assets such as buildings.

He then wonders how an independent Scotland would be able to afford military 
hardware.

The answer is clear. If anyone chose to invoke a rigid interpretation of international law, the “continuing state” (ie rUK) would also remain liable for the full national debt, as confirmed by the UK Treasury earlier this year.

In other words, by becoming the “seceding state”, Scotland would, overnight, be freed of debt liabilities in the region of £130 billion. A tiny fraction of that could buy a lot of hardware.

Of course no-one who is arguing for a Yes vote recommends such a clumsy, unfair process. Instead they propose the more reasonable, intuitive and equitable option of negotiating a fair share of both liabilities and assets.

Despite attempts by those campaigning against Scotland’s independence to portray that negotiation process as difficult and problematic, it is worth bearing in mind that an independent Scotland would hold the stronger bargaining position.

A quick solution would therefore be in everyone’s interests.

C Hegarty

Glenorchy Road

North Berwick

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