Unfair to brand No voters as selfish

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Douglas Turner’s comments (Letters, 7 March) are just a little bit sanctimonious. No voters, it seems, tend to be motivated by materialism and Yes voters by egalitarianism. Really?

Is Mr Young forgetting the results of a poll which found that if voters thought they would be £500 better off in an independent Scotland they would be more likely to vote Yes. Now are these Yes voters – or No voters converted by the lure of material gain?

Moreover, No voters are “confused”. We can’t tell the difference between the Yes campaign and the SNP. Is Mr Turner surprised by this?

The blueprint for an independent Scotland upon which we are being asked to make a choice is laid out in the white paper – aka the SNP manifesto.

In the media we hear much from Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her SNP colleagues and little or nothing from supporters of other parties within the Yes campaign, for example, from its chairman Dennis Canavan. Why would that be?

Could it be that he might stray from the party line and, for instance, voice his support for ditching the pound and installing a new currency? Since the SNP controls what is put out to the public, how can voters do anything else but identify the Yes campaign with the SNP?

And what of the likelihood of the socialist utopia which Mr Turner envisages an independent Scotland would be? The record of the party of which he is a member cannot give him much hope: a freeze on council tax, free university tuition, universal benefits such as free travel, prescriptions and school meals and the flagship white paper policy of free child care.

How do these policies bring about a “more equitable sharing of national wealth”? The better off are at least as likely, and in some cases considerably more likely, to benefit from these policies than the less well off and vulnerable in our society.

I would suggest that the vast majority of voters are motivated by both materialistic and egalitarian motives and I see no shame in that. The SNP is not winning the economic argument. Nor is there much evidence it can convince voters that an independent Scotland will be a more just and equal society.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue

Edinburgh

The need to gaze into a crystal ball is no doubt a habit former policy advisers find difficult to kick. But I thought John McTernan might have offered something more incisive in his review of the scenario after a No vote in the independence referendum (Perspective, 7 March).

He is right, of course, in assuming the SNP will have to review its strategy. There will be no prospect of another poll of that kind for more than a decade at least.

Even that would be predicated on it gaining an absolute majority in future Scottish Parliaments. Even then, a Westminster government will be entitled to say that we have been through all this once. Is there really a case for a repeat performance?

The Nationalists might have to look towards holding the balance of power in the House of Commons if they are to pursue the case for autonomy.

But we need a bit more evidence that Labour will offer a “radical, social democratic vision of Scotland within the UK”. Some could be provided at the party’s forthcoming annual Scottish conference.

There is an opportunity for it to put forward not just a much improved devolution scheme.

Voters will need evidence that its UK leader Ed Miliband intends to have that in the Labour manifesto.

If he does not use his speech to that conference to do that, we are all entitled to be sceptical.

He needs to do it with real conviction and leadership in a way that is not just a repeat of the tired old mantras that are part of conference 
rhetoric.

He needs to be bold otherwise John McTernan’s vision of the future will soon be in tatters.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court

Glenrothes

David Gerrard (Letters, 7 March) cites BBC news reports as the source of his concern about Edinburgh’s future as a financial centre under independence, and in doing so raises a fundamental point about the role of that corporation in the referendum debate.

I used to have enormous respect for the BBC and saw it as a trusted source of information.

Yet its obvious pro-Union position in Scotland’s constitutional debate must, I believe, undermine anyone’s trust in its output.

This clear imbalance was laid bare by the only detailed independent, academic study of media fairness and the referendum so far, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of the West of Scotland.

Using Mr Gerrard’s concern about the finance sector as an example, on Wednesday evening a BBC Scotland news report casually asserted that Standard Life “would move” in the event of a Yes vote, the impression being that the company would shift in its entirety out of Scotland automatically on independence. This is incorrect on several levels.

What Standard Life has actually said is that in certain circumstances in the aftermath of a Yes vote it would consider moving some parts of its business in order to align with customer and regulatory needs.

At no time has the company indicated that it would move lock, stock and barrel out of Edinburgh (and nor would it be sensible to do so), yet that is the wholly incorrect impression given by the BBC.

I am convinced that those who believe in democracy – on both sides of this debate – want a balanced, trustworthy and informative BBC.

Sadly, it is letting us down badly so far.

C Hegarty

Glenorchy Road

North Berwick

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