Letters: Conflicting views about referendum

IT SHOULD hardly come as a surprise that “lifelong Labour supporter”, Ian Smart, seeks to deny the Scottish Parliament’s right to hold a referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future (Insight, 13 November).

Such a position seems rather bizarre given the fact that everyone else, including Prime Minister David Cameron, accepts the right of the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament to hold a referendum.

A referendum on Scotland’s future within the Union lies outside the powers of the Scottish Parliament if used as a direct means to change the constitutional set up, as the constitution is a reserved matter under the Scotland Act 1998.

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However, the holding of an advisory referendum would not conflict with the Scotland Act so long as its purpose is to determine the will of the electorate.

The Scottish Parliament has the power to debate any issue it likes and consult widely, regardless of whether the matter actually falls within its remit or not, a position supported by a host of constitutional law experts, such as Dr Jo Murkens of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

It is surprising that Mr Smart should make such a fundamental error in not fully understanding the current constitutional set-up in relation to Scotland, but being a “lifelong Labour supporter” this is perhaps only to be expected.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

THE feelings of those who love and care for their country and wish it to remain part of the UK have as much relevance as those who do not. In fact it is a duty of patriots to point out the truth when they feel their country is being conned and bamboozled into taking action that could well be disastrous.

Scottish nationalists make the same basic mistake of thinking they will be able to dictate events in Europe as they do in politically apathetic Scotland. Some hope. The decision whether or not a broken-off Scotland is allowed into the EU will not be made by SNP members or candidates, that is the one thing that is certain.

If nothing else the decision will be a political one and it is fantasy of the worst kind to imagine that European countries with separatist movements of their own would simply open the doors and every indication is much the contrary.

Equally, for those proposing to go the Norway route and spurn the EU, Scots should be aware that this would entail, for starters, border posts with the rest of the UK and no guarantee of UK-wide TV.

Truth can be most painful and I well understand the nationalist ire when these unassailable facts are pointed out.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh