People before parties in referendum

Donald Lewis (Letters, 28 March) says the referendum debate is a constitutional issue and that is exactly why the main debate should be between David Cameron as the UK Prime Minister using the full resources of the British civil service to attack Scottish aspirations and the First Minister of Scotland.

Despite being mainly funded by wealthy Tories in London, the No campaign is afraid to put up Tory spokespersons in TV debates.

Labour human shields such as Alistair Darling and Blair McDougall should debate with their opposite numbers Nicola Sturgeon and Blair Jenkins.

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Nicola Sturgeon is more than capable of presenting clear and cogent arguments of the benefits of a social democratic independent Scotland.

However, Mr Darling may well become a liability when it is pointed out that he presided over the UK regulatory body that had the powers to investigate the RBS/Amro takeover that ultimately brought about the collapse of the bank.

Alistair Darling was also criticised by the Bank of England after the collapse of Northern Rock for failing to take decisive action over the banks which would have at least mitigated the problems with HBOS and RBS one year later.

It is not Alex Salmond’s or the SNP’s referendum: it is about the people of Scotland having the confidence to take decisions for ourselves, just like 190 other countries and standing on our own two feet.

Better to be a self-sufficient good neighbour than a surly, resentful lodger to our landlords south of the Border.

Mary Thomas

Watson Crescent

Edinburgh

Why should the leader of the Scottish Government debate with one of the yesterday’s men who regularly contribute on behalf of the Bitter Together campaign?

Our First Minister is not the leader of the Yes campaign. Blair Jenkins is, and if Alistair Darling wants a debate it should be with him.

Watt Smellie

Kepscaith Road

Edinburgh

Alex Turpie (Letters, 28 March) rightly demands answers to practical questions on independence.

Most of these will no doubt be answered when the Scottish Government publishes its White Paper later this year but how an independent Scotland will look depends on the political priorities of the government of the day which could be Conservative, Labour or even a new grouping.

It won’t necessarily be Alex Salmond or the SNP in charge, however it is safe to say that a newly independent Scotland would be one of the richest nations in the world.

On Mr Turpie’s specific point about pensions, the Yes Scotland organisation has already published a paper which illustrates that an independent Scotland would be better placed than the UK to pay pensions and benefits as, contrary to myth, Scotland currently spends a smaller share than the UK of both our national wealth and tax revenues to deliver pensions in Scotland. It also deals with the mechanics whereby the UK Government would continue to pay state pensions through the UK Department of Work and Pensions until 2016 when the Scottish Government will takeover.

NHS, local government, teachers, police and fire service pensions are already paid for from the Scottish Parliament’s budget.

On national debt, at present our share is included in the GERS figures which showed that Scotland generated 9.9 per cent of UK taxes but received only 9.3 per cent of UK public spending.

However people rarely mention that Scotland would also be entitled to its pro- rata share of current UK assets including embassies abroad and so on.

Fraser Grant

Warrender Park Road

Edinburgh