Readers' Letters: There’s no evidence-led case for independent Scotland

For months now we have been embroiled in a series of debates about the process, but not the substance, of achieving independence.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has failed to make the case for an independent Scotland, says reader (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has failed to make the case for an independent Scotland, says reader (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

First the Supreme Court case on the legitimacy of Holyrood legislating for a referendum. Then the suggestion that a UK General Election might be used as a de facto referendum, amended to include a Scottish Parliamentary Election. And now the manufactured fight with Westminster over trans rights. All of which serves to distract from the underlying question: that the SNP might get their referendum, de facto or otherwise, but what substance would they campaign on in that referendum? Because the SNP's dirty little secret, which all the focus on process seeks to hide is that, after 90 years in existence, they still do not have a thought-out, evidenced case for independence.

There is no economic case for Scottish independence. Every effort to produce one runs against the facts, which show clearly that Scotland benefits from pooling and sharing within the UK to the tune of around £15 billion annually and would be so much poorer after separation. The SNP's 50-page pamphlet published in October, sans facts, sans numbers, sans any supporting logic, merely emphasised the embarrassing paucity of the SNP's economic case.

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There is no historical case. Regardless of the wild claims of social media cybernats, Scotland is not a colony. In fact Scots and Scotland have benefited greatly, and continue to do so, from being part of team GB.

There is no cultural case. The lives of city dwellers in Aberdeen or Glasgow are little different from those of people in Birmingham or Bristol. Rural life in England is much the same as rural life Scotland or Wales.

There is no legal case. The UK is a unitary state formed with the agreement of all parties in the Act of Union and its legal status has never been challenged.

There is no geographical case. We are 65 million people crammed on to a small island. The very idea of splitting it up into different countries in a world where size and influence matters could serve as a definition of idiocy.

And importantly, there is no democratic case. We had our referendum. The outcome was decisive and should put the question to bed for at least a generation.

Perhaps, instead of continually distracting the faithful with mere process, Nicola Sturgeon should consider why, after 90 years in existence, her party has dismally failed to create even the semblance of an evidence-led case for independence. Let me give her a clue: there is no such case, it does not exist, it never has.

Alex Gallagher, Largs, North Ayrshire

Plug loopholes

It seems that the First Minister and her party and their Green coalitionists still do not get it. They cry “foul” and "undemocratic” and “anti-trans” and all the other spinner-devised insults at those of us, the majority, who have grave misgivings about their proposed new Gender Bill. Thankfully the UK government sees the obvious, in fact glaring, faults and dangers that most everyone else, legal and non-legal, does.

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May I make one thing perfectly clear: whatever else the opposition to the new bill is, it is decidedly not a reflection on trans people. If the lives of any section of the population can seamlessly be made easier by creating a new law, who could possible oppose that? The problem with the SNP law, however well meant, is that it unquestionably will put women and girls in once safe women-only refuges at risk. It really is as simple as that.

Predatory males do as the adjective indicates. They seek loopholes, of any and every kind, to take advantage and gain access to their prey. That is what they do. There are many examples of this in recent history. To assume that some predators will not gain, with the new law, the gender certificate they need to access previously women and girls-only spaces is naïve to the point of gross stupidity.

Surely the proposed law can be looked at and amended to stop this likelihood and perhaps prevent deep trauma, sexual assault or something much worse.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

NZ does it

The fall from power of New Zealand's PM Jacinda Ardern is a sad reminder of what might have been, and those crowing at her political demise have short memories. Having taken over an economic basket case, Ms Ardern’s first tenure proved remarkably competent and pragmatic. The primary reason for her success was she took in as coalition partners – to unanimous horror – the radical left Greens and the far right New Zealand First.Instead of collapsing within weeks as predicted, it proved one of the best coalition governments any western democracy has enjoyed: Labour was at last kept in firm check, and their coalition partners discovered in practice how impossible some of their student pub politics hobby horses on the environment and immigration were to implement. Labour kept its word, the Greens and NZF matured, and the old guard in opposition could only seethe.Alas! it proved a victim of its own success. Ordinary Kiwis for the first time in decades felt optimistic for the future, come the 2020 election they voted Labour in droves, voted out their Green and NZF partners, and the unfettered Labourites devolved back to the nepotism and petty corruption which has been the bane of antipodean politics since Captain Cook.But thank you Jacinda Ardern for three glorious years reminding the world why democracy works best – and when.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Short story

Yesterday in St Andrew Square I read Edinburgh Council’s supposedly “more accurate, appropriate and factual description” beside the monument to Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville, which makes no mention of Melville’s credible case for gradual abolition of the slave trade which did at least succeed in 1807 and probably shortened its abominable duration rather than extending it. Nor does it mention the Royal Navy then immediately starting to hunt and free an estimated 150,000 slaves from ships continuing to trade with their suppliers (the African kings and chiefs); nor Melville’s role in establishing that slavery had no place in Scotland by his action in freeing the slave, Joseph Knight, in 1776; nor that in 1792 in the House of Commons he tabled a petition from Edinburgh residents supporting abolition; nor that he then set out a plan for abolition by 1799; nor that when he happened to meet Wilberforce after 1807 he immediately, in the latter’s words “gave me a hearty shake by the hand. I would have given £1,000 for that handshake”.

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That is akin to ignoring Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation while emphasising only that his prime rationale for the Civil War (1861-65) was to preserve the Union so that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the Earth”.

It is also akin to claiming that the Arctic convoy shipments by Churchill and Roosevelt from 1941-45, of grain, tinned foods, medicines, arms, tanks, warplanes, steel and 430,000 vehicles, were intended to enable Stalin’s troops to reach Berlin first and enslave Eastern Europe for 45 years rather than to support our then ally in the immediate need to beat Germany.

There is no excuse for Edinburgh Council adopting the school of historical analysis of, inter alia, Ross Greer MSP in his unworthy comments on Churchill four years ago, for which he has not apologised.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

Smart move

The cost of living crisis is worsening as a result of temperatures dropping and food prices rising. So it was heartening to hear Alba MP Kenny MacAskill raise the issue of the injustice of fuel tariffs at PMQs in the House of Commons. Mr MacAskill highlighted the issue of pre-payment meters, meters that incur higher tariffs for the user. Those higher tariffs also result in higher social charges affecting the most vulnerable.

Mr MacAskill called for a “social tariff” to be introduced for the most vulnerable and highlighted to the House that 8.4 million people are facing fuel poverty in the UK this year. Mr MacAskill went to call on the Prime Minister to instruct energy regulator Ofgem to equalise tariff charges, a move that would assist the most vulnerable. This is a constructive suggestion amidst the cost-of-living crisis; however, from the PM’s reply it seems to have fallen on deaf ears!

Catriona C Clark, Banknock, Falkirk

Come together

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They’ve included 16-year-olds in the Gender Reform bill, they’ve introduced sex education for five-year-olds in schools, they lowered the voting age to 16, they want 16-year-olds to be able to stand for election as MSPs. They lost their battle over the Named Person Act, they tried to alter history to be taught in schools. They’ve set the parameters for the judiciary in sentencing by stating that a person isn’t fully aware of what they are doing when committing crime until the age of 25.

The SNP is hell bent on brainwashing a whole generation, from the ages of five-25, to ensure they become SNP voters. We have until 2026, the next Holyrood elections, to stop this cynical move to keep them in power for ever. Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems must surely form an alliance to fight this election. It’s the only way the SNP are going to be stopped from inflicting more damage on Scotland.

Ian Balloch, Grangemouth, Falkirk

Gone to pot

Could I sue Edinburgh council for damage to my car and back? This week I watched road-menders repair a hole and move on, leaving the nearby holes untouched! It is like living in a third world city. I do try to weave around potholes where feasible. However this is not possible in the dark!

Jane M Drysdale, Edinburgh

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