Independence debate needs refocusing

I watched Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s speech the other day.

As far as I am concerned, the big issues which need tackled in Scotland are a health service over-stretched by a growth in lifestyle illnesses caused by obesity and alcohol, huge public debt, an oversized public sector, welfare dependency meaning the people who need benefits aren’t getting enough, an under-utilised labour pool of young people with the wrong skills and education (for example 30,000 Neets in the west of Scotland), and a huge lack of genuinely affordable housing which is not helped by a land bank which builders use to boost their balance sheets but don’t build on.

I struggled to make the connection between all of that and Ms Sturgeon’s themes of “boosting the economy in a sustainable fashion, boosting the population (by, I assume, backfilling the deficiencies in our labour force with immigrants), defending public services, protecting pensions and benefits and enhancing equality of opportunity for the young”.

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This seems vague, euphemistic and designed to get people voting for independence by pandering to their immediate concerns rather than get us all to face up to the challenges.

And I’m still not clear how, with the devolved powers (for example, planning) we have had for 15 years, more of this could not have been tackled.

Or why independence would make a difference.

Allan Sutherland

Willow Row


Am I alone in objecting to the tendency of the media to confuse the Yes campaign with the SNP? As a lifelong Labour voter, I despise narrow Nationalism and certainly don’t think much of Alex Salmond and his ilk.

However, I strongly support political independence for Scotland because I see such a move as the only way of building a fairer society based upon compassion and social justice.

I also feel insulted when folk ask me if I expect to be better off in an independent Scotland. No, I don’t.

My wife and I have good pensions that put us well above the average family income. We will very happily pay a bit more tax to secure better education, health and welfare services – but only if decisions about those matters are taken here in Scotland, rather than by a bunch of Old Etonians (or Fettessians) in London. There is great truth in the reminder that, on 18 September, we will not be voting for a leader or a party, but for the future of our country.

James D Brown

Burnside Road


“A Man’s a Man for A’ That.” The profound sentiments behind these words do not appear to be prominent in many of the comments and opinions expressed by those opposing Scotland’s independence.

While Peter Jones (Perspective, 4 March) seems concerned about Scotland’s possibly declining influence in international affairs post-independence and others attempt to add to confusion in the independence debate by exaggerating the limitations that could be imposed on Scotland by the rUK government, and possibly by the EU, the deplorable numbers living in relative poverty and relying on food banks continue to grow.

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The apparent “I’m all right Jack” attitude by some of the repeated contributors to these Letters pages is perhaps understandable when they come from those who have never passed through, never mind lived in, some of our more notorious council housing estates. The hypocritical attempts to muddy the waters around independence while ignoring the plight of those less fortunate in society is also predictable among career Labour Party politicians who are still in denial over their failures in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

What is difficult to comprehend, though, is that many of those who are sincere in their beliefs and who genuinely try hard to consider the circumstances of their fellow Scottish citizens are seemingly content to perpetuate an outdated constitutional framework, a system of government that sees Britain continue to slide down pertinent international rankings, without seriously considering the only option in the referendum that has the potential to deliver significant constructive change in our society.

Stan Grodynski


East Lothian

Roger Cartwright clearly has very strong opinions regarding independence (Letters, 5 March). He is obviously very angry, but I’m not sure how valid his views are.

I’m struggling to find the bit of “Scotland’s Future” which indicates that Alex Salmond intends to remove British citizenship from 1.3 million people. The plans to increase immigration are predicated on the potential to increase the national wealth from increased economic activity.

It is the current UK Government’s policies which are abhorrent to many people in Scotland. Not to have a currency union will be equally as damaging to the people of rUK.

In terms of tuition fees, Roger Cartwright chooses to confuse nationality with residency, conflating it as discrimination.

You could be born in Southampton but if you are living in Aberdeen you can qualify through residency for university here without tuition fees.

And let’s not forget it was the UK Government which brought in these exorbitant increases, not the Scottish Government, which chose to subsidise students living here.

And finally, there is no plan to flout EU law.

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The Scottish Government’s plan is to apply for membership under Article 48 through the principle of continuity on the basis that Scotland joined in 1973 and complies with all EU laws and statutes.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street