All outcomes subject to negotiation
As a result of the skirmishing prior to the publication of the white paper, more people in Scotland are aware of the importance of a negotiated settlement.
Negotiation is what will follow a Yes vote next September, and the outcome of those negotiations will determine whether a new state can be a viable economic entity.
An affirmative vote for independence next September is in many ways the start, not the end, of the controversy.
There should be a clear message for the Yes campaigners from the recent polling evidence.
There needs to be a substantial majority in favour of autonomy if Scotland is to get a workable deal from the negotiations.
Chancellor George Osborne, or his successor, will be anxious, understandably, to retain oil revenues for the Rest of the United Kingdom; he will be equally anxious to ensure that Scotland accepts as high a share of the national debt as he can get away with, as he will that pension commitments on both sides of the Border can be met fully.
In that respect I agree with Lesley Riddoch (Perspective, 25 November) that we ought to have a full statement of intent from the Westminster government about all these issues.
Voters need to see a prospectus for continuing the Union as well as one for independence.
But the outcome of any negotiations will depend very much on the strength of the mandate the Scottish Government is given.
Where I must take issue with her is on her assessment of what is in the white paper. She may be right on the broad details. But I can’t accept that by now we either “buy this as a viable proposition” or we don’t.
What the white paper says and the outcome of the negotiations that might ensue will determine a lot: your right to move around Europe and the world, the amount of tax you may have to pay in an independent Scotland, the level of pensions, benefits, energy bills, mortgage payments, rents, business rates and all the rest.
People are right to remain undecided until they see how all this develops. But at least they are now more aware that what happens between September 2014 and March 2016 is probably even more important than the referendum vote itself.
Balance and fairness are at the heart of British and, therefore, Scottish values. Both sides getting a fair and equal hearing in any debate. Is that not what our democracy is all about?
Why, then, are millions of pounds of our taxes spent by the SNP and Scottish Government on the publication, promotion and wholesale distribution of their white paper for separation while the opposing Better Together campaign relies on nothing more than donations to make its case.
This whole debate seems to me to be unfair and one-sided.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP/Scottish Government talk about their desire for fairness in Scotland. Why, then, do they not consider allowing the other side of the debate to spend an equivalent amount of taxpayers’ money on presenting their case?
The idea that somehow the UK government could prevent an independent Scotland from continuing to use the pound is based on the mistaken belief that somehow the pound would be in the “ownership” of what remains of the rest of the UK.
The pound is as much the currency of Scotland as it is of the rest of the UK.
For an independent Scotland to continue to use the pound makes economic sense for both parties.
The UK balance of trade deficit right now is £35 billion a year and Scottish oil and gas exports amount to £30bn, with Scotland being the second biggest export market for the rest of the UK after the US.
For Scotland not to continue to use sterling would double the sterling zone trade imbalance and have a massive negative impact on the currency, destroying English jobs.
Maintaining the currency union post-independence will help Scotland with trade and energy sales to the rest of the UK, and in addition help the rest of the UK maintain the sterling zone’s balance of payments at a manageable level.
While the political union long ago stopped working in Scotland’s favour, the currency union still makes sense and will be of equal benefit to both Scotland and the rest of the UK if maintained.
For the rest of the UK to try and prevent Scotland’s continued use of sterling would be tantamount to economic suicide, effectively cutting off its nose to spite its face.
Alex Salmond has said that no country has ever been better equipped than Scotland to become independent, but surely the overriding priority should be that the people are unequivocally shouting for independence?
Given that the current polls suggest the contrary, does the First Minster have a Plan B if the vote does not go well for him? He doesn’t seem to have one for the currency option he wants but is not going to get.
I have my Plan B – the option of joining children and grandchildren “abroad”.
I would find it hard to live under a government here that is so blind, so naïve and so unwilling to accept any alternative opinion or criticism.
I know this can be turned around and levelled at our Westminster government, but at least it is willing to be accountable to the people, not to dismiss them as idiots with the wrong viewpoint.
The Yes campaign appears to be posited upon the assumption that Scotland is a single, discrete, unitary country, but a summary examination of the administrative regions from the Borders to the Northern Isles raises doubts.
To take just two examples, do the Gaelic-speaking communities accept Burns as their “national” poet, and will the Northern Isles feel any more affinity with Edinburgh than they do with Westminster?
So, if this melange of races, histories and cultures can co-exist harmoniously in a single country, why not embrace also the Angles, Saxons, Normans and Welsh?