Letters: Nationalist viewpoint gets narrower

JOAN McAlpine’s assertion that the “Unionist” parties have reacted to SNP success by defending a “British state settlement that disempowers Scotland’s people” (Perspective, 27 December) is truly preposterous.

The Scotland Bill, based on the Calman Commission proposals, going through Westminster will involve the biggest transfer of fiscal power to Scotland to date – yet it is opposed by the SNP.

It is the latest stage in a devolutionary journey for Scotland, the political support for which extends way beyond the Nationalist camp.

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A Nationalist can make a fairly convincing argument that other parties have taken the devolutionary journey as a reaction to the success of and pressure from SNP, although this is less the case for Liberals who have a long history of support for home rule.

However, no reasonable person can argue that other political parties have not recognised the desire for greater Scottish autonomy and reacted positively.

It suits the official Nationalist agenda to present the constitutional argument in the most simplistic manner possible. The other parties are presented as a Unionist block when in fact they cover a spectrum of opinion from recently converted and rather reluctant Conservative devolutionaries to full-blown Liberal Democrat federalists. The constitutional implications of game-changing developments elsewhere in the UK, Europe and indeed the wider world are ignored as the Scottish people are encouraged by their government to view everything through the narrow prism of Nationalism.

Jim Sillars, to his credit, has blown this apart by bringing an international perspective to the argument.

It’s pretty clear that when the chips are down, small countries do not steer the EU boat and an independent Scotland in Europe would have to fall in line with Franco-German priorities.

There is the Sillars alternative of Scotland becoming a small independent country, detached from major international partnerships, although clearly not immune from global pressures, especially when the oil runs out.

This does not seem to be in the tradition of Scottish global involvement.

Or, of course, there is the option of Scotland remaining a confident, influential partner in the United Kingdom and encouraging this most successful political union to stop carping from the sidelines and actually use its unquestionable clout to help lead Europe in a more democratic direction.

John Mitchell


Newton Stewart

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THE findings of Reform Scotland’s survey, that there is a significant majority in favour of either independence or “devo-max” (your report, 28 December), are hardly surprising.

The focus of most of the Scottish media is on the Scottish Parliament and on a day-to-day basis it has far more relevance than Westminster.

It is also clear that Scotland comprehensively rejected the Tory policies of David Cameron in 2010, so much so that while he gained a significant majority in England, the Scottish result meant he had to seek a coalition. And in 2011, the Scottish electorate gave its opinion on the Liberal Democratss in coalition by removing them from every mainland constituency.

The present devolution situation is going to change. Despite the best efforts of the myopic Labour and Lib Dem members of the Constitutional Convention in producing an asymmetric devolution system (which disadvantages England to try and placate Scotland) and the introduction of a voting system rigged to require coalition, the electorate outwitted them in 2011.

The Unionists who regularly write in The Scotsman should perhaps outline whether they think devolution should be scrapped altogether, or just how as Unionists they can justify the present state of devolution with all its disadvantages to the Unionist cause. This would be preferable to recent mudslinging over the political beliefs of writers who are rather obviously SNP supporters. And the SNP supporters might like to outline the economic future for Scotland, especially on windless days. They might like to address whether Scotland in Europe is still viable when no-one else might be still there.

If Scotland does move to devo-max, how long would it last before there was an disagreement with Westminster over defence when the imperial desires of a Prime Minister conflict with the more conciliatory policies of the First Minister? If devo-max is chosen then it is just as likely to be a step on the way to complete independence.

The year 2014, in addition to being 700 years from Bannockburn, is 100 years from when the First World War stopped the passage of the Scottish and the Irish Home Rule Bills through Parliament. Scotland had been demanding more say in its affairs since the mid 19th century, although the Irish demands for home rule tended to get more attention.

It is important that we debate the future for Scotland in an open and reasoned manner in the media and at the ballot box.

Bruce D Skivington


Gairloch, Wester Ross

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I HAVE noticed a recent trend by some commentators to refer to Syria as a “huge” country, with the emphasis on “huge”.

In fact, at 71,479 square miles in area, Syria is not very much more than twice the size of Scotland. And yet we are frequently told, usually by Unionist politicians and commentators, how small Scotland is.

Perhaps this means that Syria consists of a great deal of not very much, while it is in the interests of some people to diminish Scotland in the eyes of the world.

Keith Halley

Newbattle Abbey Crescent

Dalkeith, Midlothian

As A citizen of an already independent country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I resent the fact that vast sums of money are going to be spent on a referendum which is little better than a vanity project intended to create the statelet of Salmondonia thereby allowing Kim Il Eck to prance about and preen himself on the world stage masquerading as our Dear Leader.

Given the straitened economic circumstances in which we find ourselves, I can think of better ways to spend this cash.

John W Elliott

Ingliston Drive

Bishopton, Renfrewshire