The First Minister’s speech to the Foreign Press Association (your report, 18 January) was so short that it was almost bound to be superficial. (Why not speak at much greater length about Scotland’s “most important decision since… 1707”?)
Nevertheless, its bland question-begging was disappointing. As usual, the SNP talks as if a vote for independence will create a world in which the party will have its way in the new Scotland.
It believes that Scotland should (or “will” – the two words are almost interchangeable in the speech) have a detailed policy-based constitution, effectively a manifesto rather than a framework setting out some fundamental principles.
Mr Salmond points to the USA as a model to follow, but many would question the effectiveness of that constitution, and the power it gives to nine unelected judges. That perhaps won’t trouble Mr Salmond, believing as he does in direct appeals to “the people”.
He also cites the Iceland example, overlooking the fact that its constitution was entirely drafted and approved by individual citizens, not political parties or pressure groups.
Mr Salmond wouldn’t like that, since he’s using his current position to tell us what he – merely one of four million adult citizens – would want in a constitution.
But this, in any case, puts the cart in the wrong place: instead of idle speculation about the actions in 2016 of a sovereign body which does not yet exist, what is our government doing today to counter the effects of the coalition’s economic austerity?
As well as taking action, and using its devolved powers, the SNP government could be making the case that an independent Scotland, with its own currency, would be able to chart its own economic course. Instead, however, it is committed to remaining in (or joining, as the case might be) the EU.
This would deprive us of economic independence, without which sovereignty is form over substance, and subject us to the “democratic deficit” which Mr Salmond detects at Westminster but closes his eyes to as he casts them over the Channel: who elected any of Messrs Draghi, Barroso or Van Rompuy?
It IS interesting to contrast the reasoned and apparently objective perspective of Joyce McMillan on what will be an historical plebiscite for the people of Scotland (Perspective, 18 January) with the comparatively puerile and subjective rant of Alexander McKay (Letters, same day).
Hopefully, others who in the past might have automatically rejected independence for Scotland will take the time to examine sincerely their own views in a manner that will allow them to see beyond the constant negativity of supporters of a No vote and also come to the realisation that the only positive visions being offered for significantly progressing our society in Scotland are coming from supporters of a Yes vote.
Perhaps those who genuinely think seriously about future prospects for all of Scotland’s children, such as Henry MacLeish, who has openly expressed his desire to see more powers come to the Scottish Parliament, will come to the conclusion over the next year that in the event of a No vote another Tory government could conceivably attempt to claw back powers to Westminster, whether the UK were to remain in the EU or not.
In other words, with Devo-Max not an option because there is now no guarantee of implementation, Henry and others who have greater aspirations for our country than simply attempting to maintain the rather fragile status quo should put personal party allegiances to one side and earnestly consider a vote that would favour Scotland taking control of its own destiny.
I am more than puzzled by the claim of Joyce McMillan that perhaps we have the most reactionary government in a century.
Two points on this: two million low earners lifted out of income tax (and a top rate higher than under Labour most if its last term) and proposals for gay marriage (which have outraged many Tory supporters).
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 18 June 2013
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