Letter: Independence needs joined-up thinking

I can see no significant benefits to Scotland of any suggested UK federal structure which are not more readily achieved by Scotland being independent but it is appropriate to examine what is meant by the concept of a UK federation.

I understand that many people, including myself, are attached in a social union across the British Isles. I don't believe that Scottish independence is any threat to that. But I think it is the social union which is by far the most important consideration for most Scots.

However, with England in population 12 times the size of its largest UK neighbour, Scotland, and eight times as large as all the other bits of UK put together, any equal political federation is not remotely feasible.

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The English accepting the position of their interest being effectively resisted on any issue by the three other parts is, quite rightly, nil.

Under present constitutional arrangements, the only way any suggested UK federation would work is if Scotland was to be reduced to the same status as an English mini region like the west country, Greater London or Yorkshire.

Paradoxically, it would be easier and more likely for a viable federation to be effected if Scotland was to become independent first. One looks to the Scandinavian model, the Nordic Union, which, of course, is of several fully independent countries with a strong social union completely retaining their individual sovereignty while freely sharing responsibilities in agreed areas.

A British Isles Federation along those lines (which sensibly would include Ireland) would make a lot of sense. And, of course, we are already in a world wide "federation" called the Commonwealth, in which independent nations like New Zealand and Canada enjoy the constitutional position the SNP wants to achieve for Scotland.

David McEwan Hill


Sandbank, Argyll

Bill Jamieson (Perspective, 12 May, 2011) misses the point about the SNP's aspirations for independence. The ultimate aspiration for the SNP (and, hopefully, for the unionist parties also) is to create a successful, prosperous, happy, fair and compassionate country.

After 300 years of union, that aim has clearly not been fully achieved; Scotland still sheds population, fails to meet the aspirations of its most ambitious people and fails to support adequately its less successful people.

Independence is the means to achieve a more successful Scotland, by taking full responsibility for all decisions affecting the country; it is not an end in itself.

Of course the modern world is inter-dependent and "independence" is limited to some extent, but not having representation at the appropriate level (EU, UN etc) means that Scotland at present cannot participate in the international field at all.

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Bill Jamieson questions separate armed forces, but do we really wish for fiendishly expensive and unusable nuclear weapons and illegal wars? Of course not.

Appropriately sized armed forces will provide defence at an affordable cost without post-imperial delusions of grandeur. We also need proper commercial embassies in strategic cities around the world, not post-imperial palaces.

Mr Jamieson also raises the arrangements for social security and currency, but these will evolve over time, starting from the status quo position.

However, what seems to be his principal argument against independence is apportionment of the UK national debt. It seems amazing that after decades of hearing "experts" telling us we cannot afford independence because of the size of Scotland's deficit, they are now telling us we cannot afford it because of the size of our share of UK debt!

Ian Grant

Ashburnham Gardens

South Queensferry Bill Jamieson sees some difficulty in understanding what independence means. Surely it is simple: no Scottish MPs in the Westminster parliament. Everything else flows from this: the Queen remains the head of state, responsible in the same way, for two separate national parliaments. with residences and estates in areas under each parliament's control.

The Bank of England, custodian of the pound sterling, is supposed to be independent of parliament. Being answerable to two parliaments is a further guarantee of this.

The alternative, the European Central Bank, custodian of the Euro, is already answerable to a dozen parliaments.

Defence groupings are no new idea. Europe already has three if you include Nato. A fourth, for the (literal) United Kingdom may even provide a better example than the other three.

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Maybe there could be an agreement to spend the same fraction of GDP on defence, but in ways decided by each parliament, with deployment also decided by the respective parliaments.

The only problem is the "Luddite" opposition of the existing Scottish Westminster MPs, resisting change to safeguard their jobs. Alex Salmond can expect ferocious opposition.

George Shering

West Acres Drive

Newport-on-Tay, Fife

The SNP's raison d'etre (independence) appears to be predicated on the mistaken notion that Scotland is a downtrodden colony of the UK. But Scotland is not like Hong Kong (the last UK colony to be granted independence); it is an integral component of the UK, in fact one of the two kingdoms that give it its name.

Consequently, independence for Scotland requires the (questionable) unpicking of the Treaty of Union and the simultaneous creation of an independent England, Wales and Northern Ireland; the UK would cease to exist.

Any decision about that separation should be for the voters of all the UK, not just those of Scotland.

In an increasingly international world, the stupidity of the SNP's little nationalism and its pretence at being a colony should be obvious. As someone with family on both sides of the Border, I would resent separation. It serves no purpose that I can see and would merely cause annoyance and disruption.

The union has been good for Scotland for 300 years and should be good for another 300.

Steuart Campbell

Dovecot Loan

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