Nicola Sturgeon likes to play with words, particularly divisive ones. On the anniversary of the referendum she tells us the UK is living on “borrowed time” (your report, 18 September) and that the UK Government is apparently treating the Scottish people with arrogance and “disrespect”.
For the SNP, the “Vow” was never going to be met, whatever was actually given, just as the new powers included in the Scotland Bill were always going to be inadequate from the Nationalist perspective.
The truth is that the relatively broad promises in the Vow are indeed being delivered in full, and new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament will make it one of the most powerful devolved assemblies in the world.
But those realities do not fit the SNP’s preferred narrative. It is critical for them to keep up the rhetoric of unfulfilled promises and inadequate powers, because that is how Nationalism works. Still less does the First Minister want the focus to turn to what she plans to do with new powers.
As all in Scotland have learned to our cost, the SNP’s record in actually doing things is not without its problems, whether in health, education or the police.
In addition to the SNP’s apparent shortcomings in dealing with the practicalities of government, the additional tax-raising powers potentially force difficult decisions around rates of taxes, and where money should be spent.
The First Minister continues to be more comfortable laying blame and exaggerating differences than getting on with the real and often challenging job of government.
Lewis Finnie (Letters, 18 September) repeats the Labour and Tory Better Together mantra that Scotland is too wee and too poor to become an independent nation.
Last year Standard & Poor’s rating agency concluded that Scotland’s wealth levels “are comparable’ to those of AAA-listed nations, and that as an independent country – even without any North Sea oil – Scotland will qualify for S&P’s “highest economic assessment”.
“In brief, we would expect Scotland to benefit from all the attributes of an investment-grade sovereign credit characterised by its wealthy economy (roughly the size of New Zealand’s), high-quality human capital, flexible product and labour markets, and transparent institutions,” said S&P in the report.
Without oil revenues Scotland’s GDP per capita is virtually the same as the UK as a whole and whether we would be richer or poorer would be down to the policies of the government of the day.
As a country rich in natural resource and high educational skills, there is no reason why Scotland should not be able to replicate the economic and social achievements of other small independent countries – the one advantage they have is the full powers offered by independence to make decisions which are the best for them.
With different political priorities and economic policies from Westminster, which are geared towards the bankers in the City of London to the detriment of the rest of the UK, the full powers of independence would enable Scotland to tackle the challenges of inequality that Westminster has failed to take on and emulate our much more successful and progressive small northern European independent neighbours.
Warrender Park Road
The choice to call a second referendum is more closely tied to the lifespan of the Westminster Government than that of a political butterfly. It’s not called the sea of politics for nothing – the tide changes.
I note two reports of statements being made by Nicola Sturgeon. One, that the UK is living on borrowed time – which sounds disconcertingly like a threat of insurgency – and another that the SNP must persuade more people to vote Yes.
A more glaring example of Orwellian “doublethink” would be hard to find in modern politics.
It has to be accepted that the devolution experiment on this island has failed, both in Edinburgh and in Cardiff. All the current talk of more powers, fewer powers, use of existing powers – even federalism – will not improve by one jot the ineffectual governance we have been subject to since inception.
The only solution, therefore, is to disband both assemblies, ridding the public purse at a stroke of a burdensome layer of governance and then to undertake a contemporary form of enosis, where the institutions, customs, laws and practices of the country are aligned into a recognisable and homogenous British identity.
Andrew Gray (Letters, 18 September) says that the population of Scotland voted to stay in the UK by a “large” majority. It did not and a 5 per cent movement would have led to a very different result.
Mr Gray never mentions the fact that at the start of the campaign, Better Together had a lead of 70 per cent for No and 30 per cent for Yes, so the referendum was a closer run thing than he is prepared to admit. Once again he trots out his opinion that Scots not living in Scotland were democratically denied.
He never mentions the impossible logistics of giving a diaspora who have chosen to make their living elsewhere a vote.
He does not seem to accept the concept of citizenship and never mentions the fact that this was why 430,000 English people and various others nationalities who had chosen to live and work here were given the vote. That’s democracy SNP-style.
And finally, Mr Gray regularly says that people who disagree with him are living in a parallel universe, but when he says that following the vote that there was “a mood of good cheer as the cloud of gloom that hung over Scotland had lifted”, it is clear that such a place actually does exist.
Currency was a much over-played card in the 2014 referendum and continues to be dealt with in trump fashion in debate about a second one. Yet, of all nations that have aspired to, and achieved, independence status over the last decades, Scotland is among those most spoilt for choice in terms of currency.
A cursory look at the nations acceding to UN membership since the first meeting in Central Hall, Westminster, London, of the UN General Assembly in January 1946, comprising 51 sovereign states, now risen to 193, will indicate the relative prosperity rating of Scotland.
It should also put any currency concern in proper perspective. Few, if any, of the UN member states had as much as a stumble over the matter of their currency situation in acquiring independence status.
Doubtless many such states were without much choice in assuming whatever became their independence currency. Again, a cursory look into the currencies of the world will show a plethora of such, and not one single country I know of would exchange their independent status for any gain in their currency exchange status.
Ah, freedom is a noble thing, as the quote goes, and, yes, it is the foremost of currencies.