Scottish independence: Has SNP shot itself in foot over Indyref2 bid? - Scotsman letters

Curiouser and curiouser. Nicola Sturgeon and her party are itching to get on with preparations for the referendum that she has announced for next year.

To test whether Holyrood has the power to sanction a legal referendum, Ms Sturgeon has sent the Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain QC, to petition the Supreme Court of the UK (whose leading judge is a Scot) on this subject. Her argument is that such a referendum would be merely “advisory” and would therefore have no implications for the future of the UK. That being the case – with the constitution not being affected – the referendum would be within the remit of the devolved Holyrood parliament. So runs the argument.

Having made this chess move in her identity as head of the devolved administration, Ms Sturgeon then assumed her other identity, as leader of the SNP. In that capacity, she suggested to her National Executive Committee (NEC) – who, to no-one’s surprise, agreed – that the party should apply to intervene in the case in the Supreme Court, as an entity with “legal status” to bring the political case for a referendum.

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So, on the one hand, the SNP government petitions the Supreme Court on the grounds that its application is not political. And on the other hand, the SNP NEC petitions the Supreme Court, on the very same case, on the grounds that it is the representative of the political case for a referendum. Given that the SNP is a political party, and is the largest single separatist grouping, that assertion is unassailable.

Is First Minister Nicola Sturgeon trying to have her cake and eat it, wonders reader (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)Is First Minister Nicola Sturgeon trying to have her cake and eat it, wonders reader (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)
Is First Minister Nicola Sturgeon trying to have her cake and eat it, wonders reader (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)

The question is, why is the SNP so evidently challenging the stance taken by the Lord Advocate, and has it shot itself in the foot?

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

No fit state

This question must be asked: Is the SNP (with Green “help”) really capable of delivering independence successfully? The latest Westminster/Holyrood row over who pays for the devolved benefits system is important.

This shows that despite wanting more powers the SNP seem either unable to implement them or cannot afford to do so. This is the exact problem with independence. If you want it you have to be able to afford it. Nicola Sturgeon wants independence “settled” by a referendum in just over one year’s time. Has she got any infrastructure at all in place for this huge undertaking? Where are her plans for delivering pensions, social security benefits, a viable postal service, a passport service, embassies worldwide, a national bank, army, navy, air force and even a viable cyber-security system?

I could go on but these things really matter. If the SNP cannot afford to update its systems for devolved social security payments, which it demanded in the first place, what hope has it of creating all the replacement infrastructure of state that will be withdrawn if we were independent. We need answers right now if Ms Sturgeon is serious about independence. Silence will lead to its own conclusion.

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Mail call

Project Fear is alive and well in yesterday’s Scotsman Letters page.

Martin Redfern doesn’t seem to be aware that the Common Travel Area which covers the whole of the British Isles, including the Republic of Ireland, predates the European Union and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2019 between the UK and Irish governments reaffirming the rights to move freely and have access to health and social services in each other’s countries.

Re: the letter from Derek Yule, on export hold-ups at Dover, the main reason we have French passport controls in Dover is that the UK requested this in order to stop migrants arriving unchecked but refused to spend £33 million to install additional passport booths. Ireland now has 44 direct sailings every week to Europe to avoid the chaos at English ports and this could be replicated in an independent Scotland.

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On GERS, all sensible observers know that this an merely a rough estimate of Scotland’s economic position within a Union where Westminster takes all the major tax and spend decisions, and is no indication of the position in an independent Scotland, where a Labour, SNP or even a Scottish Conservative government would take different taxation and spending choices.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

The sweet spot

Oscar Wilde said that we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Few countries have such a galaxy of stars as James Clerk Maxwell, David Hume, Adam Smith and Alexander Fleming.

If Nicola Sturgeon has not seen as far as others, perhaps it is because she has such giants standing on her shoulders. She sings a forlorn one-note dirge, independence, independence, independence.

If the Covid pandemic and Vladimir Putin has shown us anything it is that the best relationship is one that does not foster too much independence nor too much dependence, but exists in the healthy interdependence zone.

Doug Clark, Currie, Midlothian

Load of manure

Clark Cross incorrectly states that for the Sri Lankan people “going green meant going hungry” as a result of former President Rajapaksa’s ban on all fertiliser imports (Letters, 23 July). Sri Lanka’s tragic collapse into anarchy was caused by multiple failures over several years, including the ban on fertiliser imports.

However this action, as reported by Reuters, was driven purely by finance, intended to prevent the drain of foreign exchange reserves. Any connection to COP26 or green issues, as claimed by Mr Cross, is entirely wrong.

Ian Macaulay, Cupar, Fife

Single figures

During the 1970s and 1980s inflation was at least 10 per cent every year, mortgage rates averaged 8 per cent, average earnings were £2,000 per year (or £11,000 in today's money), food represented 24 per cent of household expenditure, and the price of a gallon of petrol trebled from 33p to £1.

On the face of it things were worse then than now. But I can't recall recall any news reports of families facing starvation like the ones we see on almost every news bulletin. So what has changed?

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One difference, and a major drain drain on household finances, has been the rental or mortgage cost of housing, which has doubled in real terms even though average interest rates are 2 per cent.

There are two main reasons for this: the population has grown 23 per cent from almost 55.8 million to 68.5m and the number of single parent families has grown from 570,000 in 1971 to almost 3m now. Both these factors have forced house prices up. If there are around 2m more single parent families that means 2m absent partners need a place to stay.

With only one wage coming in, and the remaining partner unable to work full time, it's no wonder they can't afford to feed themselves or their family, especially if the other partner does not pay their share and despite the fact that food bills are now 10 per cent of spending, less than half of what it was in the ’80s.

God help these people if the interest quadruples to 8 per cent. And god help the Prime Minister who is expected to find the answers to this disaster coming down the tracks.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven

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Leadership lack

Well, the TV Tory leader’s leadership debates revealed little, except for the candidates obvious disillusionment with the political system where they openly attacked the record of their own governing party!Now the final two candidates, the slick professional Rishi Sunak and the slightly questionable Liz Truss, will strut their stuff around England for the next month, including a quick dash into Scotland.

Rishi is by far the most reliable and qualified person to become Prime Minister, although he appears to think Darlington is in Scotland; while the faux pas-ridden Liz seems uncertain where the Black Sea is in Europe!With both trying too emulate Thatcher (difficult for Rishi) the fact remains that only the Tory membership, who are mostly elderly, white and male, will decide who leads this broken Brexit Britain. It is slightly ominous that Liz Truss is the bookie’s favourite... and they are seldom wrong.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Inverness-Shire

Ban idea wrong

It is with a growing sense of alarm that I read of the competitive belligerence of the two challengers for the Conservative Party leadership. It would be bad enough just to watch this distasteful scenario if it was simply a matter of internal politics, but the realisation that the winner will become Prime Minister is truly frightening.

Rishi Sunak is reported to be calling for the banning of the Confucius Institute from our universities, calling it a propaganda tool and an instrument of industrial espionage. My son completed a Masters in Chinese Studies at Edinburgh University and found the course, partnered by the Confucius Institute, fascinating and highly professional. He is no dupe of the Chinese government and is now well informed about all aspects of Chinese society, language and history. It is an insult to him and his fellow students, all intelligent graduates, to call for a ban. Surely dialogue and discussion are highly preferable to indiscriminate banning.

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This headlong rush to satisfy the lowest common denominator in the Conservative Party promises disaster for the country and is yet another example of the need for some sort of adjustment in our relationship with the UK government. Modern Scotland should encourage sensible migration and discussion with other societies, in preference to bans and prohibitions.

Many of us were horrified by Boris Johnson and his immoral government. I hate to say it, but things could be about to get worse!

Brian Bannatyne Scott, Edinburgh

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