Keep it simple
Poll ratings for the independence case seem to be in a trough. A positive vision from Yes Scotland is needed to redeem the situation, as Robin McAlpine suggests (Comment, 24 January).
But the campaign’s arguments also need the merit of simplicity. At the moment, many undecided voters are confused because there is too much emphasis on what might be achieved after independence is granted, rather than the means of actually getting there.
Nobody can accurately predict what colour a newly elected government in an independent Scotland will look like. For the moment, speculation about the welfare system, financing universities or housing policy, to take just a few examples, has limited value.
Of more direct relevance is the actual apparatus that will allow a newly independent nation to function. The most important is defence and security.
Will people know before they cast a vote exactly how Scotland will be defended, and what resources will be available to do so?
Will all those domiciled in Scotland, and indeed elsewhere in the United Kingdom, know what their citizenship status will be?
Just as important is the capacity of the new state to tax and borrow. Will there be in place a modern revenue and customs facility, a borrowing mechanism to achieve that? A related matter is the portion of the existing UK national debt the new state will take on.
A simple answer would be to base this on population, but, whatever the complexities, people have a right to know what the burden will be.
Yes Scotland can continue with platitudes about dignity, renewal and more self- confidence in an independent Scotland.
But the more complex arguments it puts forward, the greater the danger of misrepresentation from the unionists and of confusion among potential supporters.
Telling the people exactly what an autonomous state might look like on day one of independence might, for the time being, be the most fruitful way forward.
The Conservatives believe it is important voters are presented with a clear choice between two detailed options in a European referendum.
Therefore, they argue that the negotiations to repatriate powers back to the UK should happen before a referendum takes place.
However, with the Scots independence referendum, the Conservatives say the referendum must happen first, and only then (if Scotland rejects independence) will the Westminster government enter into probable negotiations to determine which powers, if any, should be repatriated to the Scottish Parliament.
Why can’t the Westminster government treat these two referendums in the same way – ie, enter into negotiations with the Scottish Government now and thereby give Scots the same clarity of choice (between two detailed options) in the Scottish referendum?
If clarity is important in a European referendum, isn’t it is equally important in a Scottish independence referendum?
Your correspondent Mr Donald Murray (Letters, 23 January) asks to be told if it will be Scottish Government policy to pursue Swiss-style cantonisation in an independent Scotland.
I would say to him that it is not necessarily something for the Scottish Government to decide on in the first instance.
I would hope that a Scottish constitution, drawn up after wide consultation in Scottish society by a constitutional convention and agreed by the people of Scotland in a referendum, would include clauses on the nature of the relationship between central and local government, and on the nature of both central and local government themselves.
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