Free speech

Douglas Turner’s letter castigating you for “continually publishing the anti-independence drivel of Alexander McKay” (3 August) shows a dismissive attitude of the right to free speech in a free press.

He seems to think that because you label yourself “Scotland’s national newspaper” you should support the political objectives of the government of the day and presumably only publish favourable comment.

If Mr Turner is an independence supporter and if his view is widespread it is a worryingly 
authoritarian mindset.

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ian Lewis

Mayfield Terrace

Edinburgh

Mr Turner doesn’t seemed to have noticed that, in addition to Mr McKay, Mr Gray also contributes a fair share of pro-Union correspondence.

However, to be fair to the 
letters editor at The Scotsman, a number of pro-independence contributors are also allowed space.

The problem is that many of the contributors on both sides merely repeat the same hackneyed thoughts.

What is needed is constructive debate on the advantages and disadvantages of both sides, something that is often also missing from the leaders.

By its masthead The Scotsman should be the main discussion point for what is going to be the most important decision in Scotland’s modern history.

Certainly radio and TV discussions do help to reach mass audiences but the power of the typed word, whether on paper or on the internet, must never be disregarded.

The ability to construct an argument and place it in public view is what is required.

We need more thoughtful contributions; the present SNP leadership position on Nato needs discussion yet the hierarchy has placed a gag on its MSPs.

It hardly bodes well for a future Scotland when, if a few senior members of the government find that there is dissent they try and muzzle it.

Of course Mr Robertson MP feels he has a majority opinion poll supporting joining Nato but that was because he asked the right question.

If you ask the public: “Do you want to stay in Nato?” then the answer is not going to be the same as if you ask: “Do you want to stay in Nato, bearing in mind the cost of doing so is many millions and could mean taking Scottish casualties in Nato sponsored overseas campaigns?”

The fact that the SNP hierarchy position is that we are 
joining Nato whether the public like it or not and there is to be no dissent is a serious breach of democracy.

The Scotsman should be the place where MSPs and the general population can place their views. Instead of trotting out the party e-mail it would be much more democratic if members of the SNP were to publish their views. It is not just a matter for their conference but for us all.

Bruce D Skivington

Strath

Gairloch, Wester Ross