Readers' letters: Queen’s death won’t move the dial on independence

For more than 37 years much of the Fife area was represented at some time or another by the anti-royalist MP Willie Hamilton

He achieved majorities in his constituencies which modern Labour candidates can only dream of. It would be absurd, however, to suggest that those successes were due to his well-publicised republican stance. It was due to the fact that he stood up for many people’s needs on health, education, equal pay, redundancy compensation, jobs in the new technologies and the promotion of Glenrothes new town.

These matters overshadowed any reservations his supporters may have had about his approach to the monarchy.

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In a similar vein I’m inclined to agree with Sir John Curtice that the recent transition of power is unlikely to change Scottish voters’ attitude to independence (Scotsman, 15 September). Whether they are SNP supporters or not, matters like the cost of living, low pay, jobs, benefits and tax, transport is certain to be given a higher priority than a protracted dispute about the case for a constitutional monarchy as against a republic.

Crowd line the Royal Mile for the procession of the late Queen's coffin from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles Cathedral earlier this week

When the argument does raise its head, let's hope it doesn’t just concentrate on the hereditary principle alone. It should focus on which system is more likely to extend the sum total of human liberty in its widest sense.

If we look at the way power has been abused in those countries which have rejected royalty, it may lead us to a surprising conclusion. It is that a constitutional monarchy with bold, innovative ministers can be a more effective guardian of the liberties we cherish.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

Dissent necessary

The seemingly interminable period of forced mourning for all has a few more days to go as commentators grasp for new superlatives and metaphors, TV and radio stations scour the country for D-list celebrities with a tenuous link to royalty to interview, organisations try to outmourn each other with minute’s silences, minute’s applause and gushing tributes while black ink continues to be splashed liberally over most newspapers.

Amongst all this, anyone expressing any dissent whatsoever, no matter how benign, is arrested in a manner befitting most tinpot dictatorships. Only a few months ago we threw up our hands in horror at the monstrous treatment of anti-war protesters in Moscow.

Dissent is a necessary condition that all civilised and democratic societies must recognise, irrespective of whether we as a country agree or disagree with it, but it seems we have more in common with Putin’s Russia now than we probably realise.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

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Lack of respect

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Much has been said about the protests against royalty during this sad time and the arrest of some protesters.

I too agree with freedom of speech. However, I have one question for the protestors: how would they feel if, during the funeral procession of one of their much loved family members, people were protesting to show their disapproval of the event? I believe there would be a punch-up.

Have respect for the funeral procession of anyone – as you would expect for your own family. Freedom of speech may well be part of our democracy but what is it worth without respect? Time to protest when it’s all over.

Margaret Guthrie, Bongaree, Queensland, Australia

Free speech myth

The myth of free speech is well illustrated by the arrest of protestors against the monarchy. The law allows peaceful protest and that excludes shouting, swearing, threatening attitudes and disrespecting mourners and other peaceful bystanders. The myth would vanish if only we all insisted that "free” is always prefixed with “responsible”.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian


Am I alone in finding Nicola Sturgeon’s readiness to talk warmly about the late Queen and of her anecdotes about staying at Balmoral, deeply hypocritical?

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Everyone knows that the SNP wishes to break up the United Kingdom. Something the Queen clearly didn’t want with her "people should think very carefully about the future” comment ahead of the Scottish independence referendum.

Tim Jackson, Gullane, East Lothian

Four nations?

The BBC’s coverage of the death of Her Majesty the Queen has been measured, informative and very well-judged in tone. Only the endless references to “the four nations” have detracted from its overall excellence.

The Queen’s principal public role was as head of state of one nation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, whose people are referred to as Britons or British. When Scottish people were asked in a referendum, we chose to remain part of the British nation.

Most British people are quite capable of simultaneously holding British and other identities, whether these relate to a constituent part of the UK or to a country or culture from whence their ancestors came.

If despite this, the BBC is still convinced that there are four nations rather than one, then perhaps it is time for it to be renamed the Four Nations’ Broadcasting Corporation.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

Political broadcast

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I share S Beck’s sympathy for those elderly viewers unable to renew their TV licence (Letters, 15 September), but missing out on the BBC’s coverage of the events following the passing of our monarch could be regarded as a blessing.

The relentless dragging of the independence issue into their commentaries have been appalling, and no doubt will continue even after she is finally laid to rest.

There are too many examples to quote here, but correspondent Allan Little’s solemn assurance, as he strolled amongst the crowds on the Roayal Mile, that “support for independence is as high as it’s ever been” was totally unfounded and risible.

Andrew Kemp, Rosyth, Fife

Scottish psalms

As a Scot living in England I watched the magnificent service of remembrance for Her Majesty the Queen in St Giles’ but I was surprised and disappointed that the choir sang a psalm in the Anglican tradition of “chanting”.

We have a wonderful psalter which is full of traditional psalms many of which would have been appropriate for the occasion. It saddens me that this did not happen in a Scottish Kirk; no Scottish praise for a Scottish Queen. Where was Jenny Geddes?

Elizabeth Asbury, Bath, Somerset

Emblematic flag

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Stan Grodynski describes the union flag as an "emblem of British nationalism” (Letters, 13 September).

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the union flag is the national flag of the United Kingdom. I'm not entirely sure how that constitutes as British nationalism.

Perhaps Mr Grodynski would care to clarify what defines "British nationalism”? The BBC? Mediterranean holidays? EastEnders? Presumably the Saltire is a symbol of Scottish hationalism, as is haggis, Irn-Bru and whisky?

This kind of nonsense does nothing to further the cause of independence.

John McSweeney, Edinburgh

Shows of strength

There appears to be an outbreak of commentators warning against the adoption of "muscular unionism” to counter Scottish nationalism. This reminds me of a Czech cartoon from the Soviet period in which a plucky little Czech, inside a cage, is threatened by a large (Russian) bear, under the notice: “It is forbidden to tease the bear.”

The SNP has managed – chiefly by offering Scots a false prospectus – to amass huge, some might say authoritarian, powers in Scotland. Its leaders are allowed to dominate Holyrood and to operate extensive levers of power.

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And yet it complains about “muscular unionism”, which may be construed as potential attempts by Westminster to restrict Ms Sturgeon and her associates to the actual requirements of the devolution settlement, instead of intruding into reserved issues such as constitutional and foreign policy.

We have already seen how far the appeasement policies of the Cameron era, particularly, have got us. They have given the SNP more powers and turned a blind eye to the SNP’s neglect of its devolved responsibilities and its meddling in reserved issues. None of this has gone anywhere near to assuaging the SNP’s hunger for more power, complete power, even though the failures of SNP rule are clear for all to see: ferries, census, BiFab, Gupta….

The SNP demands the right to hold a referendum and has gone to the Supreme Court to try to have this right upheld. Why does no-one call this “muscular nationalism”? We have seen plenty of that with complaints about flags, the setting up of foreign hubs (inside British embassies!), and all the other attempts to pretend that Scotland is a separate polity.

Commentators warn pro-UK people against provoking the bear, sorry, the SNP. It is not, they say, in our own interests. So why is it in the SNP’s interests to promote muscular nationalism?

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Scots’ choice

I hate to seem picky about my clansman yet again, but Robert Scott (Letters, 15 September) is getting himself tied in a fankle over nothing.

When Scotland is independent, the people of Scotland will decide, as so many other countries have done, whether we wish to continue with a monarch or do as so many other countries have done and stay in the Commonwealth as a republic.

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Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh

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