Economist adds fuel to independence fire

Why has the prospect of an independence referendum for Scotland become a vast magnet for internet trolls trading threats, ill-nature and primitive mud-slinging?

Included among them now is the Economist (your reports, 14 April) whose front cover – depicting a map of “Skintland” – pillories and profoundly insults every corner of Scotland; the accompanying article is sloppy in its journalistic vagueness and factual inaccuracies. Shame on the publication. Shame on those who posted comments which are sickeningly unpleasant. Shame on all the opinionated media columnists who have created this fetid swamp.

Simple logic dictates the referendum process – not one’s own political stance, or opinion on the economy, culture or lifestyle. The SNP has always made it clear that it supports independence for Scotland. Therefore, that is what it would aim for when in power. The party did not achieve this political power with guns, weapons, violent means or the spillage of blood, but at the ballot box.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

In 1997, there was a referendum asking the Scottish people if they wanted a parliament. Two-thirds said yes, so the Westminster government passed the Scotland Act, which brought the Scottish Parliament into being in 1999. By 2011, the people of Scotland voted in a greatly increased number of SNP members to the parliament. So the SNP government now intends to ask the people of Scotland what they think about independence. That is what the party said it would do; the people of Scotland can say yes, or they can say no. That is their right.

In the more mature democracies, one might expect campaigns to inform, not to threaten, bribe, instil fear, bully or harm. We seem to have gone from silly scaremongering – such as William Hague’s threat to stop promoting Scotch whisky in British embassies, to the Economist’s threats of poverty and deprivation.

The problem is that it obscures the facts, figures and reasoned debate everyone longs for. To the outside world the UK must be an entirely Disunited Kingdom, whose constituent parts despise and dislike one another. I don’t believe this to be true, but there are lot of journalists pushing the idea along without thought for the wider harm they do. Ultimately, it’s up to the people of Scotland – but most of us would like to have some reasonable discussion in advance.

Lorraine Fannin

Warrender Park Road

Edinburgh

“Oh WAD some power the gift tae gie us, tae see ourselves as others see us.” Burns said nothing about “others” being right, polite, or reflecting majority opinions. The Economist’s article on “Skintland” was certainly not polite, and unlikely to be reflecting a majority opinion, but to what extent it was right is a valid, even interesting, question.

To treat the article as an insult is itself an insult to our maturity and intelligence in Scotland, and panders to the whingeing, hard-done by Scot. Of course, if we really did have the Gaulieter that Alex Salmond himself referred to a few months ago, he could have any of the Economist staff shot should they venture north of the Border.

HECTOR MACLEAN

Balnaboth

Kirriemuir, Angus

Right-wing politicians grasp the nettle, stinging themselves once again with a derogatory article about Scotland on the front page of the Economist and this begs the question: why are right-wing media and politicians grasped by the issue of Scottish independence?

Could their constant outbursts be a result of insecurity, no vision, no policies to offer – so they are on the offensive.

Scotland’s politicians need to keep focused on the vision that is Scotland’s future and treat the right-wing unionist politicians with the contempt they deserve. After all, their efforts to date have all backfired and filled Scotland with no confidence; have they anything positive to say about Scotland’s future?

CATRIONA C CLARK

Hawthorn Drive

Banknock, Falkirk

Try as I might, I have been unable to invoke feelings of being offended by the Economist’s cartoon depicting a poorer independent Scotland.

The cartoon was just a routine example of the cartoonist’s art: humorously illustrating a serious point being made. In reacting so emotionally to a cartoon, Alex Salmond invites comparison with other groups who respond explosively when their cherished symbols are lampooned.

RICHARD LUCAS

Broomyknowe

Colinton, Edinburgh