Letter: Fundamental errors over campaign issue

AS I am not in the "high command of the SNP" I agree with Pat Kane (Perspective, 17 May) that much needs to be debated about a re-shaped independence policy, and because Alex Salmond had the good sense to place the referendum in the latter half of the parliament, we now have time to do so.

Pat, I fear you read too much into my suggestion, for example, that we could share, that is continue, the pension and social security payments system that operates now. That does not imply a loss of sovereignty. It seems to me commonsense to keep an administrative system with which all are familiar, instead of engaging in the disruption of setting up a completely separate system. Don't tell me that such a thing is an easy whizz through the IT specialists. Pull the other one on that. Or more appropriately look at the messed-up IT expenditure record.

In any case sharing an administrative system does not mean sharing pension and social security levels. As for defence and security against terrorism, I am not the least "ambivalent" about the role of Scottish defence forces being dragged into foreign wars as part of the British military.

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I have not suggested Scottish forces being integrated with those of the British state, but see nothing unusual in pursuing a Scottish state interest in providing close co-operation within the island of Great Britain, with a neighbour with whom we share the same risks.

Pat is a good example of an SNP activist who, because the party has not campaigned for independence since 1992, has not needed to think about the subject in the changing circumstances and the various spheres of influence that Scotland fits into in this new century.

If Pat Kane and others think that the decision is for us and us alone, without any outside interference, then he and they do not live in the real world.

Nothing I wrote blurs "the clarity of independence's powers over crucial, and even morally urgent, dimensions of Scottish self-determination" as Pat claims. A sovereign state in international law, in command of its own economic affairs, home policy, foreign and trade policy, and represented in the institutions of the international community can afford to be sensible in its relations with its neighbour of 300 years.

Finally, may I say to Pat that I did not mention the EU because, given how it has developed, as I wrote in a pamphlet in 2009, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) would be a far better berth for us than going alongside the mandarins in Brussels whose contempt for the people of Europe is now legion.

Jim Sillars

Grange Loan


PAT Kane today (Perspective, 17 May) applies a welcome brake on the indecent haste with which various media commentators have moved to redefine what independence means following the SNP's decisive election victory.

It is surprising the First Minister and SNP's Westminster leader (Angus Robertson) have been willing to join in the media's game.

They would have done better to insist that the SNP's own membership would decide what the SNP means by Independence.

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With the referendum not due for another three years, there is plenty of time for the party to debate and decide through its democratic policy making bodies the National Council and Annual Conference.

Stephen Maxwell

Findhorn Place


DONALD Dewar may have meant well but his heritage of a devolution debacle will grievously harm, if not destroy the country he no doubt loved, more than any action of the most rabid Nationalist. It is the late Mr Dewar who has brought the present crisis upon us. It is no consolation to have voted No-No and to have urged my fellow Scots to do the same in 1997. The list element was designed, we were told, to prevent any party getting an overall majority - well so much for that strategic future planning.

It is no consolation either to know barely half the population voted at all this month and, of that 50 per cent, less than half voted for the SNP.

Those in Labour, the Lib Dems and even the Tories who led us up this path in the 90s, those closet nationalists afraid to show their true colours, are to blame for the madness of 2011 and beyond.

The script was written for a disaster and along it came.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg


IT SEEMS that Alex Salmond is prepared to dilute the concept of Scottish independence almost daily until he achieves winning over a majority of Scottish voters, which he currently doesn't have in the separation from the United Kingdom issue.

Many loyal SNP members will not support a diluted form of independence purely as a vote winner to satisfy his taste for power.

Dennis Grattan

Mugiemoss Road