Invalid argument

Paul Gilfillan trotted out the standard line about a “democratic deficit” in Scotland (Friends of The Scotsman, 26 June).

Allow me to point out the circular nature of this purported argument. It goes like this: if Scotland is regarded as a separate political entity, then it is unjust that the government of Scotland is elected by the whole of the UK.

Injustices are bad, therefore Scotland should be regarded as a separate political entity.

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So, there you have it. The conclusion is clearly included in the premises, therefore the argument is circular and invalid.

There is a distinct “class” element of this independence campaign: the SNP is cynically trying to buy support with enticements of cash on a plate and savings in the pocket to all and sundry who might regard themselves as below averagely wealthy.

These enticements are expressed as election manifesto-style promises, entirely inappropriate for a vote on an irreversible decision – no punishing the Yes campaign at the ballot box next time if the promises are not fulfilled.

They are also expressed as “an independent Scottish Government would have the power to consider giving you” statements that formally promise nothing, but dangle prospects before voters. This approach lacks integrity. It is common after secessions that the nationalist elites are delighted with their new-found prominent roles, while working-class supporters are disillusioned that the expected improvements are not realised.

Richard Lucas



Paul Gilfillan, a sociologist, writes that he and his students find a clear correlation, in Edinburgh, between the Scottish middle classes voting for continuing the Union and the working classes being for independence – and that both groups are so inclined because of their interests – in the case of the former in the status quo, and in the case of the latter in terms of beliefs that their fortunes would improve in an independent Scotland.

However, surveys show that the situation is much more complex than this. Substantial proportions of the working class still favour continuing in the Union and there are elements of the middle class that favour independence – The Scotsman’s correspondence columns this week have demonstrated that there is a section of lawyers who favour independence.

Gilfinnan makes no reference to gender, where surveys again consistently show that women are far less in favour of independence than men.

Women are less likely to engage in risky behaviour than men and are much more likely to be alert to the dangers of an abrupt change in existing political arrangements.

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I hope that Paul Gilfinnan engages in more sophisticated academic analyses with his students than that which is outlined in The Scotsman. Students in our universities deserve better.

(Prof) Norman 

Palmerston Place