Balancing the benefits of independence

Allan Massie’s piece on the referendum (Perspective, 18 September) is thoughtful as usual, but I would take issue with his statement that within the UK “people know their pension will be paid on a given date and they know how much it will be”.

This may be the common perception but any Westminster government for the foreseeable future will be looking for savings.

Already major changes to benefits are under way and the state pension cannot be regarded as sacrosanct.

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Moreover, some, in all parties, advocate moving away from universal benefits and it is a reasonable option.

If Holyrood had full powers the difference would be that any changes would be the concern of the Scottish electorate alone.

S Beck

Craigleith Drive


Thomas R Burgess and Margaret Salmond (Letters, 19 September) think that all will be a bed of roses with independence from the corrupt, war-mongering English.

Have they forgotten that Gordon Brown, who must have been the worst chancellor of a UK government ever with his destruction of pensions, his selling off of UK gold reserves at a historical low and his deregulation of the banks, is Scottish?

I hate to think of the disastrous effect that these mistakes would have had on an independent Scotland.

Three more Darien schemes? Better, or at least stronger, together, I say.

Bob Williams

Inverleith Gardens


In the independence debate Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon keeps telling us that her plethora of experts have been guiding her on every issue, coming up with the right answer (?) each time.

Surely we would be better governed by these experts, rather than the rather unconvincing politicians.

Ken Currie

Liberton Drive


With Grand Theft Auto 5 hitting the shelves this week, I found myself reflecting upon the weirdness of inviting 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in a referendum that could break up Britain while simultaneously forbidding them from buying a violent video game.

You can’t walk into a bar and buy yourself a beer, watch certain films at the cinema, buy cigarettes or fireworks, place a bet, get a tattoo or apply for a credit card, but you can decide whether or not to dismantle the United Kingdom.

Cynical nationalists’ gave 16- and 17-year-olds a vote in the upcoming referendum because they contemptuously hoped our young people would be naively grateful and take this as an enormous compliment.

In truth, it was an “insult” based on the erroneous not-ion that 16- and 17-year-olds would be useful idiots the Nats could manipulate with ease.

Keith Gilmour

Netherton Gate


Our First Minister tells us that the referendum is the biggest opportunity Scotland has ever had.

Surely not. That occurred in 1707 with the Act of Union creating perhaps the best partnership in history. It has been of enormous benefit to both parties and gave us Scots opportunities we could not have dreamt of as an independent nation.

It stopped us going bankrupt with the Darien adventure, much as we would have done four years ago with the collapse of our two largest banks.

And let’s not have this humbug about how undemocratic the Scottish parliament was. It has to be judged by its time, not by today’s standards.

John Kelly

High Street

Dalkeith, Midlothian

While the televised independence debate on Wednesday night covered many topics, one that caught my attention was when finance secretary John Swinney reminded everyone of the Conservatives going back on the word of Lord Home, in 1979.

While this is a valid point, he, of course, omitted to mention that the SNP back then was also anti-devolution. How things have changed!

William Ballantine

Dean Road

Bo’ness, West Lothian

I have long supported independence for Scotland, that is until now. The problem I have is that Alex Salmond wants to push through gay marriage, which is not wanted by most Scottish people.

He wants us to stay within the European Community without a referendum while the rest of the UK will be given a choice. I, for one, want to leave the EU.

Alex Salmond forgets that he is in power to represent the people, not to represent his own views. Until he agrees to a referendum on the EU membership I would urge all Scottish people to vote No to independence.

James Orr

Tay Gardens


Lindsay Matheson’s elegant and apt letter (18 September) should be framed on the walls of both sides’ headquarters.

But one wonders if those, for whom £500 either way might change their voting intentions, realise that that sum would inevitably be an average, with some getting up to £1,000 (or more) and others nil (or less); and whether they all assume they will be in the former category.

John Birkett

Horseleys Park

St Andrews