Voters decide, not political parties

There is no longer even a pretence of democracy in UK politics. You report Alex Salmond “admitting defeat” to the Westminster coalition which will not “offer” the referendum option of increased powers for the Scottish Government (your report, 25 September).

The wording of the referendum is properly a matter for the Scottish electorate, not its politicians, who will always put party interest first.

Nowhere is the democratic deficit more obvious than in the composition of the coalition itself: the presence of the poorly supported Liberal Democrat impostors in government is a complete inversion of representation.

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That such a minor party can actually choose which other to place into government is an insult to the whole electoral process, which should result in an administration which accurately reflects the votes cast. That would be provided by genuine proportional representation, which our major parties will not countenance, being dedicated to total power. Failure to obtain an overall majority should then lead to minority government by the party winning most seats.

The fact that they would be curtailed in their policy desires would define their level of public support and suppress extremism. 

Single party overall majority is now unlikely in UK politics; that should encourage co-operation. We need change.

Robert Dow

Ormiston Road

Tranent

I READ Scott MacNab’s article, “Alex Salmond signals a deal” (24 September), with some interest. The implication was that devo-max was no longer on the ballot paper.

On 20 February it was reported in this newspaper that David Cameron “had offered a deal that would see the referendum ballot restricted to a single question in return for more powers after a vote in favour of the Union”.

If unionists wish to persuade Scots to say No, they will have to tell us what powers they intend to give us, and have them passed by Westminster and in place before the referendum takes place.

Perhaps the unionists need to bear in mind that we Scots have been here before. The name of Sir Alec Douglas-Home comes to mind. Scots have good reason to distrust the promises of Westminster politicians.

Clearly if they are not in place, the SNP will be hitting them on the head forever and a day until the referendum takes place. The removal of the second question is a Pyrrhic victory.

Mr Salmon is in a win-win situation. The second question may no longer be on the ballot paper but for many Scots, reflecting on how they might cast their vote, it is certainly still on the table.

George Mossman

Letham

Fife

Am I alone in my bewilderment about the timetable for the forthcoming independence referendum?

We are told that “the Holyrood and Westminster governments ordered officials to start work on Monday, on a “package” to hold the historic vote after the two sides reached “an ‘advanced stage’ in talks about the format of the referendum” (your report, 25 September).

How can they have reached an “advanced stage” when we are still waiting for the publication of the results of the Scottish Government consultation on the independence referendum?

The consultation closed on 11 May and it was reported that there had been 26,000 responses. We were given the impression that these responses would be analysed over the summer.

Later, the article states that “the results of 26,000 responses on the referendum consultation will be published in the coming weeks”.

Is this going to happen before or after an agreement has been reached? Are our negotiators, in their haste to reach an agreement, planning to ignore the views of the 26,000 groups and individuals who took the trouble to respond?

Surely this cannot be the case and they must have some idea as to the results of this consultation. If so, why have these results been withheld from the rest of us for so long?

D A Lewis

Paisley Avenue

Edinburgh