Holyrood lacks referendum powers

Matt Qvortrup (Comment, 6 March) argues that because the Scotland Act does not explicitly proscribe holding a referendum on independence it would be permissible for our current SNP government to hold one.

Mr Qvortrup may be an expert on international referendums but he seems to have missed (or deliberately avoided) the point: that the current administration cannot hold a referendum without passing the enabling legislation first.

Any such legislation must concern the Union and, as such, is explicitly outside the legal competence of the Scottish Parliament and, therefore, subject to challenge. Given these facts – and to address his other point that the matter is “non-judicable” – I fail to see why any competent judge would decline to take the case. Indeed, in addressing other matters, the Supreme Court has recently gone out of its way to state that the Scottish Parliament is not a sovereign body such as Westminster and that an action that it is acting ultra vires is perfectly competent.

Peter Muirhead

Duncrag

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Kilmacolm

Lesley Riddoch (Perspective, 5 March) makes a timely plea for calm. In the interests of future clarity, she champions a brain-storming approach and avoidance of both Churchillan conviction and outdated dogmatism.

“Say what you think now” is excellent advice. What the unaligned think – and they are the ones who will make the difference – focuses firmly on the need for disinterested facts. Cogent opinion from professionals in any relevant discipline. Not politicians. This is not a party political matter; it’s far too serious.

Thousands of Scots of all persuasions would surely welcome hearing reliable empirical statistics, economic, demographic, geographical, and so on, upon which to base a personal opinion which would not embarrass them in the future.

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Peter Laidlaw

Bramdean Rise

Edinburgh

Andrew Gray (Letters, 6 March) replaces accuracy with effrontery: the only “negative ambition” displayed in the independence debate so far has been by the Unionist opposition, and the financial muscle behind their efforts dwarfs the SNP’s.

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To adapt Gray’s words slightly: “The entire matter of the question should be one that reflects reality and which does not succumb to the sleight of hand of the unionists. Let the proposal be honestly put to the Scottish people: “Do you want Scotland to become an independent country again?”

Gray and his fellow reactionaries are so fond of the words “separatism” and “separatists” that I am surprised they do not start a campaign to persuade Americans to stop celebrating the Fourth of July as Independence Day and start calling it “American Separatism Day”.

(Dr) Peter Dryburgh

Newbattle Terrace

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Edinburgh