The drive for Scottish self-determination is rooted in history - Readers' Letters

It is good to read that as a democrat Brian Wilson (Scotsman, 21 November) would not oppose a further independence referendum if it was the “settled will” of the Scottish people, and would even accept a Yes result, though that would not be his preferred outcome. But as to his point that a second No result would finish off the desire to break free of the union, history shows that this is unlikely to end the matter, and here similarities with Quebec end. Scotland is an ancient nation, one of the oldest in Europe, with a long and developed independent institutional history – Quebec never had that status. The roots in Scotland are deeper and more resilient.

Delegates in the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh for the Scottish Constitutional Convention in March 1989.

In 1707 a federal option was rejected by Queen Anne’s Tory commissioners. The Crown successfully railroaded through the “incorporating union” to secure the Protestant Hanoverian succession.

The United Kingdom came into force on 1 May 1707 but its foundation has never been celebrated on either side of the border. The bells of St Giles’ in Edinburgh set the tone in Scotland, pealing out the tune Why Am I So Sad On My Wedding Day?. There then followed an attempted Jacobite rebellion in 1708, which aimed to dissolve the incorporating union, a parliamentary attempt to dissolve it a few years later (which failed by three proxy votes), further Jacobite rebellions in 1715, 1719 and 1745; the attempt by Thomas Muir and the United Scotsmen Society to restore some measure of Scotland’s ancient parliamentary rights (1790s); the democratic campaigns of the radicals; the Grant brothers’ Society for the Vindication of Scottish Rights, (1850s); the Scottish Home Rule Society (1880s); Keir Hardie’s Independent Labour Party (1900s); the National Party of Scotland (1928); John MacCormick’s Scottish Covenant, (1940s); the campaign for a Scottish Assembly (1970s); and the Scottish Constitutional Convention (1990s) – all culminating in the “reconvening” of the Scottish Parliament in 1998 by the Scotland Act.

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Three centuries of contest and struggle to establish a modicum of democracy in Scotland reveal deep roots which are not going to be eradicated.

Mairianna Clyde

Merchiston Crescent, Edinburgh

Clarity required

Brian Wilson points out how the demise of the separatist movement in Canada could have lessons for Scotland.

What he failed to mention was that the federal authorities in Canada brought this about in large part by the introduction of their Clarity Act which very cleverly spiked the separatist guns. That should be the real lesson from Canada for the UK Government.

Alan Thomson

Kilcamb Paddock, Strontian

Search for a fence

In a week when Boris Johnson trumpets that democratic representation for Scots is a 'disaster', Brian Wilson

naturally defends Scotland's hard-won devolution settlement, which is now in imminent peril from Brexit and the Internal Market Bill.

Well, not quite.

He correctly diagnoses that devolution was an “inescapable consequence” of the Thatcher years. But what then is the “inescapable consequence” of a “sustained period of inimical ideological government”, bent upon destroying devolution, which will make the era of Thatcherism seem like our halcyon days?

At this point Brian fluffs the obvious conclusion and looks around for a fence to sit on. To his credit, he does not dispute Scotland's inalienable right to decide upon its future. 58 per cent of of his fellow Scots, appalled by the impending attack upon their rights and the trampling of their values, have made their choice. Brian will soon find

there are very few fences left to sit upon.

Jim Daly

Fox Spring Crescent, Edinburgh

In defence of Patel

If Priti Patel was a Labour minister, the reaction to the Allan inquiry into her conduct at the Home Office would be very different (Scotsman, 21 November). The liberal establishment from the BBC to the Guardian and including Twitter would ride to her rescue claiming her treatment by public school mandarins was "racism".

The Sir Humphreys would have been dismissed as stale, white bigots, intimidated by the idea of not only a woman, but a woman of colour, daughter of Ugandan-Indian immigrants, daring to criticise their work ethic. She'd be hailed as a heroine standing up to conscious and unconscious male bias.

But she's a Tory, so she's rubbished by the entirety of "woke-land". You'd have thought they'd welcome someone like Patel putting a load of entitled Oxbridge-educated mandarins in their place but the Left believe they own the black, Asian and ethnic-minorities and a BAME Tory doesn't compute.

Rev Dr John Cameron

Howard Place, St Andrews

Pariah state

The British Government has stated in relation to China’s behaviour in Hong Kong: “China’s action is a clear breach of its international obligations under the legally binding UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

Sound familiar? When one substitutes “Britain” for “China”, “Northern Ireland” for “Hong Kong” and “EU-British Withdrawal Agreement” for “Sino-British Joint Declaration”, then one can see why the UK Government will be seen as a pariah post-31 December 2020.

No doubt reneging on the Withdrawal Agreement is not what the PM actually means. It will be dissembled by the coterie of apologists put up to retro-correct! Only the Chinese do such things they will say and we are dispatching the aircraft carrier to the Far East in response to their behaviour.

John Edgar

Langmuir Quadrant, Kilmaurs

Covid comparisons

Making national Covid-19 league tables using selected statistics is a common pastime for those favouring independence (Gill Turner and Mary Thomas, Letters, 21 November)

But the pandemic is not over. Virus transmission continues. The number of new cases reported on November 21 amounted to 887 in Scotland,1,257 in Denmark, 461 in Finland, 1,818 in Slovakia, 670 in Norway, 6,243 in Sweden, and 22,464 in Germany.

The only sensible conclusion that can be drawn at this time is that no European country has got a grip on the virus, even though we may be doing a bit better than the United States, which reported 191,033 new cases on that day.

Hugh Pennington

Carlton Place, Aberdeen

Case closed?

So the Scottish Tories want to scrap the not-proven verdict (Scotsman, 21 November). That old saw!

You published a letter from me two years ago this month supported JP John Lawless' excellent summing up of the matter at the time. Charges have to be proved, either beyond reasonable doubt or on the balance of probabilities. So old Scots law was precise and logical.

The importation of (first) a 'not-guilty' verdict and (second) the 'guilty' verdict from England was a mistake and should not have been allowed. As Mr Lawless pointed out, no one knows whether or not an accused is in fact guilty or not guilty. All a verdict finds is whether or not the prosecution have proved their case.

So the solution, to enhance Scots law and rationalise it, is to go back to just two verdicts: 'proven' or 'not proven'. The public should learn to understand these verdicts and their implications.

Does Scotland not want to maintain its legal independence from English law? Here's one way to do it. The Scottish Tories should cease trying to pander to popular opinion and instead enhance Scottish law.

Steuart Campbell

Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Lucknow’s heroes

Apparently, a “junior doctor” with an Indian background found a sign at Edinburgh Castle which extolled the heroism of the defenders of Lucknow in the Indian Mutiny which made him “infuriated”. The defenders of Lucknow were both British and loyal Indian troops. The doctor claims that the sign “pandered to imperialism”.

The brave people at Lucknow were being besieged at the same time as British people were massacred less than 60 miles away at Cawnpore, with the bodies of women and children thrown down a well. That was the fate that the people of Lucknow faced and their stout defence was, indeed, heroic.

I am extremely concerned that Edinburgh Castle is going to replace the sign describing the defenders of the besieged city as “heroes”, which, quite clearly, they were when, for several months they were surrounded and besieged by rebels who outnumbered them by a factor of between three and four times their number.

Having had a family member at Lucknow, I feel outraged that our history is being edited because one man objects to its sentiments. Amazing acts of heroism resulted from the actions of these brave people and many Victoria Crosses were awarded.

It is entirely right that a British military establishment like Edinburgh Castle should celebrate our own heroes, as I am sure that the Indians will celebrate theirs.

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh

Voting reform

I totally agree that much needs to be done to encourage more people to vote in Scottish parliamentary elections.

The regimen of going to the local hall, filling in a ballot paper and putting it in the tin box is surely outdated in this day of social media interaction and busy lives.

Of course, all-postal voting with sufficient safeguards to prevent electoral fraud, extending the hours of voting and technology are among the ideas which should be

explored, but all this will tend to be in vain if parties don't put forward decent candidates and policies which capture the public's imagination and passion.

Bob MacDougal

Oxhill, Kippen, Stirlingshire