Wallace’s muddle

LORD Wallace, in his recent statements on the referendum, has got carried away with his own evangelism, making statements that are open to challenge.

In his interview on Saturday on Radio Scotland’s Newsweek Scotland, he claimed the devolution settlement was approved by the Scottish people in a referendum. That is incorrect, the referendum took place prior to the passing of the Scotland Act 1998, so we did not know what we were letting ourselves in for.

He implied that that vote was legitimate approval for devolution, but only 45 per cent of the electorate voted Yes.

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Curiously for a Liberal Democrat, he berated the SNP on account of the precise wording in its manifesto about the referendum. It promised a Yes/No vote on independence. To include devo-max (or, as it is generally known, fiscal autonomy) would muddy the waters – in any case, he did not know what that meant. Well, that matches our perception of what devolution meant in 1997!

In any case, it is the SNP that is challenging the Unionists to define what they want, if it is their wish to include it. Labour had a 176 majority in the House of Commons in 1998, so there was no constraint regarding proceeding without a further referendum. This time around, with the determination of the Unionists at Westminster to call the shots, the question of a post-legislative referendum, or, rather, a pre-referendum legislation, could not arise.

Lord Wallace lost the plot somewhat when he speculated about the prospect of a Yes vote for independence out-voting a vote on the same ballot paper for or against devo-max. That structure would be absurd: There could be a Yes and a No opportunity for independence, plus those voting No being asked to declare, on the same ballot paper, their preference regarding devo-max, with the Yes for independence vote also implying support for more powers. The implication in Lord Wallace’s presentation seemed to be that, if the pro-independence vote failed, we could have a second, separate, referendum on devo-max at some later date. Those whom the Gods wish to destroy…

The problem we have with Lord Wallace is that he is unelected, so he is there until “dis-appointed”.

Douglas R Mayer

Thomson Crescent



FURTHER to the contribution from Robert IG Scott, incidentally my father, (Letters, 18 January) regarding becoming “an even smaller minnow in the pond”, I have to ask what is so wrong with being a minnow.

There are more small fish in our global pond than there are sharks and they seem to get along just fine. Scotland has a great deal in common with some of the more successful guppies. In the main, and with due cognisance of recent events at RBS and HBOS, we have a successful financial centre similar in style if not scale to Singapore. Our export business in Scotch is a global success similar to the Swedish and their furniture and mobile phones. We have a natural resource like our friends in Norway and we have history of global trade just like the Netherlands. Finally, but not exhaustively, we have a reputation for innovation that, many would argue, is second to none.

I am no nationalist and don’t know which way I will vote when we are finally given the opportunity, but I do believe we need to have faith in our own abilities as a people. The nae-sayers who defend the Union should continue to stand for their beliefs, but they should stop undermining our national potential to make their point.

We don’t need to be big fish to be happy, successful and content. Indeed, we might be more so by not feeling the constant pressure as a global power.

Derek G Scott

Waterside Road



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THERE has been a proposal that the eligibility to vote in the referendum should not be restricted to those on the electoral role at the time but should be extended to Scots not currently registered in Scotland. The argument against has been that it would be far too complicated to determine eligibility in any other manner. If that is so then how will nationality be determined afterwards if a Yes vote wins the day?

Many English, Welsh and Irish people resident in Scotland will presumably wish to continue to be registered as English, Welsh or Irish under the general title of British.

Most Scots not resident in Scotland will presumably wish to be registered as Scottish.

Is it to be decided that cannot be done as it is too complicated?

The eligibility issue seems to be a subset of the nationality one.

When one considers the complex issues which would require to be solved in order to disentangle the rights and responsibilities of the two separate nations, the nationality exercise, in my view, falls into the relatively easy section. Surely a set of rules could be defined to give currently disenfranchised Scots resident in the UK who wished to apply to do so, the right to vote.

Raymond Paul

Braid Farm Road