Readers' letters: Scotland was forced into passing the Act of Union

Despite claim to the contrary, it is clear from the evidence that the Union of 1707 was not “voluntary” for Scotland. The Parliament of Scotland, comprising some 200 members, was far from democratic. Almost all of the MPs, such as hereditary peers and town council members, chose themselves. The only way in which the majority of Scots could make their views known was by protesting on the streets or submitting petitions to the Parliament. During the three months of debate over the terms of the proposed Union, 96 petitions were submitted from all over Scotland. Not one supported the idea of Union with England.

In 1706 Scotland had been forced into a corner. The imperative for England was to secure agreement from Scotland to the 1701 English Act of Settlement which identified Sophia of Hanover as the nearest Protestant heir to the crown. Being at war with France, England did not want a potentially hostile, even neutral, Scotland on its doorstep. English determination was very much in evidence with the movement of troops to the Scottish border and the Royal Navy sailing off Scottish waters. There was also the threat of the 1705 English Aliens’ Act being implemented.

The agreed terms were heavily weighted in England’s favour. Despite having at that time 20 per cent of the UK’s population, Scotland was allocated only 45 MPs (just one more than the county of Cornwall) compared to the 513 English MPs and 16 peers compared to 190 English members of the House of Lords. And yes, many Scottish MPs were “bought and sold for English gold” and the promise of high office. The Earl of Glasgow was given the equivalent of £2 million to distribute amongst potential supporters of the Union.

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It is quite clear that the 1707 Act of Union was not voluntarily entered into by Scotland. Nor was it a Treaty between equals. Many Scots saw it as a total surrender of their independence into the hands of their proud and powerful neighbour. There was no Article in the Treaty allowing for an ending of the Union. That power was reserved to the Westminster Parliament. Scotland was effectively locked in.

Queen Anne receiving the Act of Union in 1707 in an illustration by Walter Mannington

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh

Reviews are in

The SNP has been using funds intended to be spent on the people of Scotland on their own pet projects, such as a second independence referendum. The Supreme Court has ruled that they do not have the power to do so and they had no right or power to spend the money that they did. Now, they are also earning the ire of the UN’s special rapporteur on violence against women over their Gender Reform Bill.

Westminster has the House of Lords who can delay and comment on bills the House of Commons passes. However, there is no such parliamentary body in place to review the legislation that an SNP/Green majority may decide to enact now at Holyrood, or which any other party in future may decide to pass. In such instances as the gender reforms, the only way in which patently flawed legislation can be blocked is by an appeal to the Supreme Court. Surely, it is time that a permanent reviewing body be put in place to send back laws which are “ultra vires” (beyond their powers), or which ride roughshod over valid objections, rather than always having to have recourse to a court?

As the House of Lords is packed with experts in every field that can be imagined, it would seem to be an appropriate reviewing body, especially as it already performs that function for Westminster. Surely, it is high time for the Government to act and amend the Scotland Act accordingly?

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Route map

Fraser Grant claims that the “anti-Scottish” parties are “democracy deniers” because they cannot “provide a route map” to a referendum (Letters, 29 November). Clearly he has strayed from the script by failing to get the word “colony” in there.

The fact is there is a very clear route map to a referendum. And it is one prescribed by the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon herself. After the 2014 referendum it was decreed that a Section 30 order would not be sought until opinion polls showed a 60 per cent-plus majority for independence for a period of a year or more. Despite Brexit, despite Boris Johnson, despite Liz Truss and despite the endless whine of the anti “Tory Westminster” grievance machine, support for independence has struggled to reach even 50 per cent.

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What has got the SNP running scared is the obvious fact that they would be a laughing stock if they attempted to run an election campaign on their record in office – that and the very likely prospect of a UK Labour government. This is why they wish to treat the next election as a phoney referendum. I would urge the Labour Party to put the constitutional question to bed by simply stipulating they would agree to a referendum on the SNP’s own terms as laid out in 2015 and then concentrate on the genuine issues of an election – taking both the current Scottish and UK governments to task for their failure in office and showing how Labour could deliver on the everyday issues that are of most concern to the Scottish and British people.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

I see no ships

In another lyrical picture of the sunlit uplands of independence, Grant Frazer (Letters, 29 November) tells us that “Scotland’s ship of proven ability is set to sail away on fair winds and tides around the world”.

Let’s hope it isn’t one of Nicola’s ferries.

D Mason, Penicuik, Midlothian

Serious analysis

Aside from having a nice little stroll down memory lane and padding out his column with references to I’m A Celebrity and 80s pop culture what was the point of John McClellan’s column about Nicola Sturgeon's use of the term “democracy deniers” (Scotsman, 29 November)?

The usual nod to the slur du jour, anti-semitism, was made in reference to Nazism and "Holocaust deniers” but that show has got to be nearing the end of its West End run given that Sir Cardboard has now cleansed his party of anything remotely resembling a belief system and has shown himself capable therefore of managing UK plc.

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McClellan does briefly allude to the economic mess facing any party elected in 2024 but that, surely, should be another good reason for Scottish independence unless – and it is not altogether clear – that’s another barb aimed at the Scottish Government.

Please can we have some more serious analysis (such as John Yellowlees’ article of the same day – “Optimistic and pessimistic scenarios possible for border trade in the event of independence”) rather than cliché after cliché which is just only slightly more elevated than tabloidese and name calling?

Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh

Steak bake

If this is the Yes movement “galvanised” and heading to “new heights” (Scotsman, 26 November) then God help them. I’ve seen more dynamism, hope, intelligent debate and realistic thinking while queuing for a steak bake.

David Bone, Girvan, South Ayrshire

Bloated services

One of the potential problems with our public services that seem to need more and yet more taxpayer funding, is that of large numbers of highly-paid “executives” who are supposed to be managing the services while clearly failing to do so.

The problem has become endemic in all sectors, including policing, health, education and even our local councils.

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Politicians in both Holyrood and Westminster should be taking an axe to the increasing levels of “management” and their associated costs and it would be no bad thing if the public were properly informed of the present cost breakdown for services that are paid for through taxation.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Interesting idea

For a number of years I have had a wine club account into which I pay by direct debit a few pounds each month. As a thrifty Aberdonian, I never ever order bottles of wine until there is enough in the account to pay for what I am ordering. The wine company, meanwhile, is good enough to pay me interest on whatever is in the account at any given time, for which I am of course very grateful.

So with that thought in mind, maybe it is time for the energy companies to do the very same, and give serious consideration to paying interest on all the money they salt away in their bank accounts, from customers who pay by direct debit sums which are calculated by the energy company themselves to supposedly cover the costs of future usage.

In my case the sums calculated by the energy companies more often than not – despite the fact I am always well in credit – have been wholly inaccurate and even excessive, and most certainly to their benefit, not that of the customer.

Given that the energy company can then re-invest legally all such monies to their benefit, is it not high time that they too, as my wine club does, paid all direct debit customers interest?

Neil McKinnon, Perth, Perth & Kinross

People power

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Stan Hogarth has stirred the elephant in the room about “super-procreators” (Letters, 29 November).

He is correct, people create greenhouse gases. COP27 was yet another failure to add to the previous 26 years. The first COP was held in Berlin in 1995 when the world population was 5.7 billion but today this has escalated to 8 billion.

People cause pollution so why has this item never appeared on any of the 27 COP agendas? By 2050 there will be 9.7 billion people and by 2100 10.9 billion people creating greenhouse gases if we haven’t all been burnt to a frazzle already.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

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