Readers' letters: It’s time we stopped pandering to separatists

I would agree with much that Christine Jardine wrote in her column (Scotsman, 22 August) regarding her fears and concerns about the unpleasantness and divisiveness that would undoubtedly accompany any future indyref campaign.

I would, however fundamentally disagree with her very conciliatory approach to the problems which the advent of separatism has brought to our country.

Too many well-meaning politicians seem to think we should treat the separatists with the same level of respect, courtesy and understanding as we do the followers of political parties. I don’t say “other” political parties as I do not consider that any movement whose sole aim is the break up of our nation state should be accorded the status of political party. It is no more than a campaigning movement.

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The United Kingdom was formed as a unitary sovereign nation state. I am unaware of any other nation state, be it in Europe or the wider world, which would permit cessation of any constituent part from the nation state, and I know of none that would contemplate a referendum on the matter.

A demonstrator speaks in a loud hailer as she protests against the arrival of the Tory leadership contenders to the Perth hustings on 16 August
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A referendum result at any given point in time is not a reasonable means to effect a permanent constitutional change of such magnitude, and one of the primary responsibilities of any nation state is to protect the integrity of its borders.

The mindset that accedes some sort of pseudo-democratic rights to those who would break up our nation state needs to be changed so that separatism is not permitted the rights of any normal political faction.

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As happened in Canada with the introduction of the Clarity Act to deal with the neverendum brought about by the separatist Québécois; when the prospect of separation is removed the appetite for it diminishes.

We need to stop pandering to those who would break up our sovereign nation state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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Alan Thomson, Strontian, Highland

Picture imperfect

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I wasn’t at Perth on 16 August and therefore did not observe the minor fracas which has occasioned much breast-beating so I have had to rely on pictures in the newspapers.

That in The Scotsman of 22 August does show a large saltire in the background but the main focus is on two irate gentlemen. One seems to be concerned about the homeless.The other just doesn’t like Conservatives: he is wearing a green shirt so perhaps he is an Irish nationalist – or maybe he is just a Hibs supporter.

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The picture with the widest scope I have seen was in The Times of 18 August. It does indeed show two unfurled saltires but also a wide selection of placards. Most prominent are those of Stand Up To Racism making a number of points. There are also a number bearing the imprint of Socialist Worker, some calling for support for striking rail workers while others read “Break Up The British State. No to war”.

However, the most prominent banner shows half of a St George’s Cross beside half a St Andrew’s Cross all overprinted with “English By Birth, Scottish By Choice”, which doesn’t seem a very inflammatory statement.

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However many, including your contributor Christine Jardine, are sure this was a howling mob of Scot Nats.

From the evidence I would say it looks more like a motley gathering of individuals who get a kick out of making a noise by, in their estimation, speaking truth to power – represented on this occasion by a small number of douce citizens who happen to support the Conservative Party.

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S Beck, Edinburgh

Sturgeon’s luvvies

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Actor Alan Cumming tells us, during an en passant visit to Scotland, that he's “a big proponent of Scottish independence” (Scotsman, 23 August). So much so that he no longer lives in his home town of Aberfeldy or even Scotland but is a long-term expat resident of New York, taking dual UK/US citizenship.

Not long ago, his fellow New Yorker and nationalist sympathiser, actor Brian Cox, originally from Dundee, proclaimed that he couldn't possibly live in Scotland – it's simply too damp.

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And novelist Irvine Welsh, one-time Edinburgh resident and another UK break-up supporter, prefers to make his home in sunny Florida, not Scotland.

What is it with Nicola Sturgeon's band of separatist luvvies that they adore Scotland so much they prefer to live over 3,000 miles away?

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Martin Redfern, Melrose, Scottish Borders

Labour fantasy

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Katherine Sangster’s contention that Labour can gain seats in Scotland (Scotsman, 22 August) is a fantasy.

Here’s the thing. Scots are sick of being treated as a colonial outpost. We are kept on a short economic leash with the majority of our money flowing to London. Our oil and gas resources have been frittered away on tax cuts, the mass privatisation of public assets and keeping the UK afloat, and our renewable resources are on track to suffer the same fate. Our vote to remain in the EU was disregarded. Our 59 MPs are stifled by 533 English MPs. The devolution settlement is being destroyed. The economy is sinking. Inequality and poverty have soared. Public services are on life support while the corporatocracy prospers. Nuclear weapons are sited half an hour from our largest city. What’s not to like?

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A Labour government won’t alter this disasterscape. Starmer has sold out to corporate interests and betrayed workers. He has embraced Brexit, which is making the UK immeasurably poorer. He refuses to support a democratic voting system. And he won’t acknowledge Scotland’s right to govern itself, which can’t possibly be any worse that what we are currently enduring.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

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Peformance art

Edinburgh councillors are to be congratulated on the success of their contingency plan which promised to ensure there would be no rubbish littering the streets of our beautiful city during the Festival should the bin men vote to go on strike.

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It was a masterstroke to declare that the waste spilling from every bin and billowing freely through the city streets, much to the delight of the seagulls and rats, is not rubbish but is in fact a festival art installation.

Perhaps they could extend this thinking to other city eyesores such as the redundant paraphernalia of the Spaces for People/Tavelling Safely project, the carbuncle atop the new St James Centre and the ongoing disaster that is the city trams project and dismantle them all when the Festival is over.

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John Wann, Edinburgh

Read More
Edinburgh bin strike: Politicians' blame game will not impress voters – Scotsman...
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No Plan B

The SNP government, as usual, is failing to provide funding to councils, but rather than blaming only the SNP Government, what is the local council doing to clean up litter-strewn Edinburgh?

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Why were many more large bins not added at key Festival points? Why were contractors not brought in to clear the litter? What happened to the council’s plan B?

We keep hearing that Scotland is a proud nation. Not from where I’m standing as a tourist. It’s a downright disgrace and nobody in power is doing anything.

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Brian Barbour Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland

Tourist tax

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The City of Edinburgh Council complains, probably with some justification, that they do not have enough funds. Why on earth then do they not impose a tourist tax?

Such a charge is made commonly throughout the world without any ill effect on the tourist trade. And £2 or £3 a night is a lot less likely to put visitors off than streets piled high with rubbish and infested with vermin.

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Michael Grey, Edinburgh

Strike inaction

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You will remember a few years ago workers at a facility in Grangemouth took industrial action over a dispute. The employer’s response was to state that the facility would close and be transferred elsewhere. The workers withdrew their action.

This was a good example of what can happen in the manufacturing sector, the work can always be transferred where the conditions are more amenable.

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Now when you look at the disputes UK-wide, they are all in the service sector, jobs that cannot be transferred elsewhere. Those in dispute can have them last as long as they want knowing that at the end their jobs will be waiting for them, with a possibility of overtime at enhanced rates to clear any backlog.

The situation was clearly shown in the actions of the workers at Felixstowe who were seen performing a conga dance. Their jobs will be safe, regardless

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C Lowson, Fareham, Hampshire

Blasts off

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I applaud the decision to cancel the fireworks to close the Edinburgh Festival. The reason given was the pandemic and planning. However, fireworks are political.

A chief weatherman was recently sacked – sacrificed – because he predicted a non-materialising storm over Budapest which led to the cancellation of what had been billed, in Victor Orban’s Hungary, as “Europe’s biggest fireworks display”. A petition against the display had already attracted almost 100,000 signatures because it was felt to be inappropriate in light of the war in neighbouring Ukraine.

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Can Scotland start a trend? Should Scotland take the lead in postponing this year’s New Year fireworks in a gesture of Ukrainian solidarity?

Kate Robinson, Glasgow

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Non-person

If you have not completed the census (Scotsman, 22 August) you should quite simply be deleted from the voters roll.

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Alastair Paisley, Edinburgh

Write to The Scotsman

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