Readers' letters: Westminster meddles with the constitution when it suits

The Supreme Court’s judgement on Holyrood’s power to hold a referendum on Scotland’s independence was made on the basis of the Scotland Act 1998 - a change made to the British Constitution only 25 years ago.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Supreme Court ruling on a second referendum would "galvanise" the independence movement. A number of rallies were held across the country
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Supreme Court ruling on a second referendum would "galvanise" the independence movement. A number of rallies were held across the country

The Supreme Court itself is a very recent addition to legal resources in Britain: it came into existence as a result of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and began business in 2009.

The Supreme Court is allowed to comment on whether Westminster legislation is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights but it has no power to force a change in UK law - that power remains very firmly with the politicians.

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The point is, surely, that those politicians at Westminster obviously feel free to meddle with the unwritten “British Constitution” whenever they feel like it. This has included endowing that same Supreme Court with final jurisdiction over our separate Scottish legal system, including the Scottish Court of Session itself.

We should remember too that Westminster politicians have recently demonstrated, with their illegal prorogation of Parliament, that they are prepared to ignore the “British Constitution” when it suits them, to break international treaties without shame and to deliver bare-faced lies to the Constitutional Monarch.

It seems very clear, therefore, to observers, domestic and foreign, that the “Great British Constitution (unwritten)” is an extremely malleable, indeed wobbly basis on which to suppress and entrap permanently one of its last imperial colonies - Scotland.

And that is where the Supreme Court made its vast ironic error - by confirming that Scotland is indeed a colony of the British state. Now, in 2022, one of the oldest nations in Europe, Scotland is “not allowed” to vote for independence.

The British empire has never surrendered any colony peacefully, gracefully, honourably or benevolently - just ask the USA. More recent histories of how other colonies like India, Kenya and Ireland won independence, against shameless tactics, are remarkably similar as a series of steps.

It may be cold comfort for some of us who are getting too old to be patient, but Scotland is on the very same path, taking the same steps, experiencing the same gas-lighting, same amoral attempts to “divide and rule” the same relentless attacks on our political leaders.

Now that the Supreme Court has removed itself from the frame, our next step is surely to re-establish our Scottish Constitutional Convention.

Frances McKie, Evanton, Ross-shire

Careless talk

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The reaction of the SNP MPs and MSPs and their supporters following the ruling of the Supreme Court is deeply concerning for society in Scotland.

The use of language and in that context, inappropriate language can have far reaching consequences. One need look no further than at the riots at Capitol Hill in the USA at their last election to see the evidence.

Further to the Supreme Court ruling words and comments from the SNP government such as “hostage in the UK”, “democracy deniers”, “colony” and “democracy is what is at stake” are at best regrettable but at worst utterly shameful.

I thought they could stoop no lower that referencing Kosovo in their submission to the Supreme Court.

When the Chief Constable of Scotland, Iain Livingstone can comment that there is a danger of a “potential breakdown in social cohesion “ with one of the reasons being “constitutional uncertainty within society at the moment”, then reflection on the First Minister’s use of ill-tempered and ill-thought out language is essential.

At least it seems that one of the SNP number understands the dangers. Stewart McDonald SNP MP commented that independence supporters should shun the use of words such as “imprisoned” or “shackled” and that the campaign for independence is not a “liberation struggle”.

One can only hope the First Minister and others follow their colleague’s advice before the existing division in Scotland deteriorates even further to the detriment of all.

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Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Cash back

Now that the independence referendum has been declared unlawful by the Supreme Court, will the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon do the honourable thing and put the banked money into front line services?

Our NHS is creaking at the seams. We need to get back to a service of 1948 when the National Health Service was first made free for all.

Michael Baird, Bonar Bridge

Nailed on

There is a Japanese proverb that says it is the nail that sticks out that gets hammered down.

SNP activists are clearly aware of this. In the aftermath of being unanimously laughed out the Supreme Court, no doubt one of the SNP Spin Army came up with the idea ‘’let’s call it an affront on democracy.’’

And so the faithful followed, as they always do. In letters to the newspapers, the social media, their supporters in other media, all used the same wording. No-one was going to come up with a new idea or suggest another approach.

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And in a perfect display of lack of any self-awareness or lack of irony that is uniquely SNP, they follow the lead they are told to take and make orchestrated grievance on their cause being thwarted.

However, they forget or ignore one central point. There was a referendum in 2014, in which the SNP were given every single advantage: in timing, wording, age, date and much else and still proceeded to lose.

There was the perfect example of democracy in action. A referendum agreed on all sides, that is with everyone who would be affected given a say. But they lost.

And they have never quite recovered from that shock, have they?

How dare the people of Scotland, not the SNP, decide these matters?

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Reliving history

Professor Bryson’s study into similarities between Ireland’s lengthy economic stagnation from 1921 and the likely financial outlook for a post-separation Scotland is interesting but not surprising. (Scotsman, 25 November).

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For someone who grew up in rural Connaught during the 1970s and 80s, memories of this poverty remain vivid.

Rusty Ford Anglias and Morris Minors held together with baling twine. Subsistence agriculture. Frequent power cuts. Communities hollowed out by emigration. Irish travelling people at the roadside in rickety caravans or even tents. Rat-infested school buildings heated by paraffin stoves.

There was a stubborn collective denial that all this had any connection with leaving the UK decades before. Things only improved slowly as the EEC lavished structural and social funds on the country.

Scottish separatists will furiously reject this research by claiming that the EU would again play the fairy Godmother, and that unlike Ireland we have oil.

However, Brussels would look dimly on a membership applicant with a mind-boggling budget deficit, a vast (and growing) public sector and a weak currency reliant on volatile petroleum prices. Especially if run by a left-wing government dismissive of market forces and with a habit of inciting the break-up of certain other European states.

Besides, the EU’s main priority is more likely to be reconstructing a shattered Ukraine rather than bailing out Nicola Sturgeon’s banana republic.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Power trio

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The article "Power trio set to energise the country" by Ilona Amos says that the three cutting-edge battery storage units being built in Scotland will cut household bills (Scotsman, 24 November).

That's what was said about wind turbines before £1 billion of constraint payments were added to our energy bills.

Ilona says these battery storage units would supply 2.7 million households for two hours. Sounds impressive. However, there are 28.3 million households in the UK so there would only be 11.4 minutes of electricity. Not so impressive.

Battery farms are only used to balance the National Grid when renewables fail as they frequently do. Lithium batteries are a fire risk and mining for the lithium has created toxic lakes and illness in China and elsewhere. Not so green after all.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is driving 1.446 billion petrol/diesel vehicles, burning fossil fuels and running 8,800 coal plants 24/7. At COP26 China and India, supported by developing countries, refused to "phase out" coal and insisted on a meaningless "phase down". COP27 did not revisit this.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow

Hello Scotland

"BBC Reporting Scotland" is scheduled to appear at 1.30pm on a weekday.

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It would appear it is now a permanent fixture that London based "BBC News At One" encroaches by five minutes every single day.

This is unjustified, as items which are primarily for English regions are presented as being of the national interest.

In the last week, the BBC inflicted such news items as the England football team arriving in Doha; England playing Australia at cricket; Christiano Ronaldo sacked at Manchester Utd; English Ofsted inspections; the pride in Stourbridge as a local plays for England; English fans in Manchester watching the World Cup and the Queen Consort hosting a children's party in London.

The knock on effect is that, time and time again, Scottish reports are cut short with the plaintive cry please come back at 6.30pm to hear the end of the report.

Given we are discussing such matters as the strikes by nurses; teachers, the railways and the Royal Mail; and the preparations for winter, which impact considerably on all our lives, this is intolerable.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing

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