Where is the credible road map for independence?​​​​​​​ - Readers Letters

To her credit Joyce McMillan articulated the real challenges facing the pro-independence movement, about which many leading SNP figures seem to be in denial (Scotsman, 12 November).

Questions raised by the Scotland's Future White Paper, unveiled in 2013 by Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, remain unanswered
Questions raised by the Scotland's Future White Paper, unveiled in 2013 by Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, remain unanswered

The plan, the vision, the distinctive policies, the robust answers, the road map for which she calls seem to be no nearer than they were nearly a decade ago.

There is a need for a credible White Paper on how independence can be achieved; one that does not confuse the mechanics of the constitutional question with what the SNP might like to achieve in government.

The 2013 prospectus Scotland' s Future made exactly that mistake, leaving the Yes side open to all sorts of criticism. The really important questions of defence, the currency, citizenship, pensions and the welfare state, Scotland's status in terms of international finance, the environment were hardly explained at all.

The matter of the transition after independence has never been fully thought through. The setting up of two states – Scotland and Rest of the of the UK – will require the most detailed negotiation and legislation. Even if we leave aside the complex issue of Scotland joining the European Union, there is the vexed matter of the national debt and Scotland's share of public spending.

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Last time this was fudged by a bland statement of both sides agreeing to "respect” the outcome of a referendum. But it could only mean one thing; the most detailed haggling about the economics of the two new states, in which there was likely only to be one winner.

That leaves the Yes side with a dilemma. Does it want to achieve independence on the back of just over 50 per cent support of the electorate. Or does it want to wait till support of 60 per cent or over to strengthen negotiators' arms in those crucial talks?

Next Spring's local elections might signal whether there has been progress towards that degree of support.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

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Exit corruption

I fully agree with Joyce McMillan that the SNP and other independence supporters should not be complacent as yet more Conservative sleaze and corruption is revealed.

But when a Labour internal review calls for “bold” policies and their leader still cannot state, without ambiguity, that they will abolish the House of Lords, or take a pro-EU stance instead offering to “make Brexit work”, then Scots have to consider independence as the only route to a fair, mature, modern democracy.

There are four fundamental actions that an independent Scotland can take to ditch the endemic corrupt practices of the UK establishment:

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We can agree and adopt a written constitution rather than the unwritten, make-it-up-to-suit version which the Conservatives eagerly exploit.

We can be rid of the Lords, the largest unelected legislature in the world outside China.

We can leave behind the privileged state-within-a-state that is the City of London which, aided by UK overseas territories, sucks taxes away from our public services and provides a safe haven to money-launderers, gangsters and despots from across the globe.

Last, we can make a democratic choice about rebuilding our relations with the EU.

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Independence brings many other challenges and opportunities but these are the four fundamentals which no UK government – whether Conservative or Labour – will ever deliver

Robert Farquharson, Edinburgh

Selfie help

Joyce McMillans column suggests that Nicola Sturgeon visiting COP26 “worked the room brilliantly in asserting Scotland’s presence”. Having published 84 selfies in 11 days makes me wonder whose presence she was promoting?

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Lewis Finnie, Edinburgh

Big bill to pay

It was unfortunate that the talk given by Sally Thomas of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations at COP26 was drowned out of the Scottish media and hence failed to be given a mention by Joyce McMillan.

Ms Thomas pointed out that the £33 billion project initiated by Patrick Harvie MSP to replace every gas boiler in Scotland with a heat pump will cost Housing Associations £11 billion yet, because of the dire state of the Scottish economy, the public purse can only underwrite less than £2bn of that sum with no indication of how the Asssociations can obtain the outstanding £9bn.

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There was also no hint from the Green minister of where private homeowners will obtain the remaining £20bn costs of the project or the fact that this is merely the initial phase of a £150bn Green Revolution. Note that £150bn is around 100 per cent of Scottish GDP and will be an even higher percentage once the closure of Grangemouth slashes over £50bn from Scottish GDP.

The increase in renewable generation to charge electric vehicles and power heat pumps comes with a £300bn debt. Whilst the capital will be raised by energy companies hence not a burden on the public purse the expectation of a ten per cent return by these companies on the investment means ever higher electricity bills for Scottish consumers.

Time therefore to accept that, whilst Alex Salmond may have claimed that “rocks will melt in the sun before the IndyRef2 vision fades”, Ms Thomas is correct in noting the debt problems facing the Scottish economy. The deluge of red ink arising from the SNP/Green alliance projects to reach net zero means that independence is sunk for the next 30 years until the COP26 debts have been repaid.

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

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Road sage

An apparently little known fact is that John Louden McAdam did not actually invent the tarmacadam road (Letters, 12 November).

McAdam's contribution was the successful, idea of using small sharp stones in a graded structure which was compacted rather than dispersed by vehicle wheels.

The addition of tar was originally done by John Walker, also an Ayrshire man, about 1894 – or 60 years after McAdam’s death – but this invention is very often attributed to E Purnell Hooley of Nottingham who founded the company now known as Tarmac. The irony is that McAdam's first commercial venture was as part owner and manager of a tar works in Muirkirk, Ayrshire.

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Dr A McCormick, Terregles, Dumfries and Galloway

Lenin’s dictum

Your editorial (12 November) is quite correct that Xi’s China is causing increased tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, possibly leading to a “new” Cold War (which never ended but merely paused in the 1990s).

But why is there almost no acknowledgement in the West that it is our naïve politicians and short-termist business leaders who have financed China’s expansion in a mere 35 years?

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We have voluntarily and deliberately transferred our technology, academic research and productive capacity to China – ie effectively to the Chinese Communist Party, the Peoples Liberation Army, and its security, intelligence and other agencies – and then pay them trillions when they export back to us everything from toothpaste and plastic junk to steel and sophisticated electronics. Putin’s Russia is likewise benefitting from our stupidity.

With their economic colonisation in Africa and elsewhere, disregarding human rights and probable slave or child labour, we will face strangleholds and pricing blackmail in the near future for necessities we recently made ourselves.

Truly is a version of Lenin’s dictum coming true – that “capitalists will compete to sell us the rope with which we shall hang them”.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

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Trade liberation

One elephant in the room that ardent Brexiteer Martin O’Gorman ignores (Letters, 12 November) is that Scotland (and the UK), now “liberated” from the EU, can only trade with the rest of the world on World Trade Organisation terms which are more restrictive. Some “liberation”!

WTO rules apply where no other bilateral trade agreement exists. One great advantage of EU membership was that the EU had established trade deals with a further 67 non-EU states and trading blocs on favourable terms including Canada and Turkey which Scottish exporters can no longer reach with the same ease.

EU membership allowed trade with nearly 100 nations globally on good and easy terms which are now closed to Brexit Britain. Brexit has not made Britain more “global”. The ugly truth Brexiteers like to hide is that it has made Britain more insular.

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As crops rot in the fields of Scotland without EU seasonal workers to pick them, and Peterhead, once the busiest fish market in Europe lies closed because fish cannot be landed there for onward sale to European markets (with loss of onshore fish processing jobs), and care homes and hospitals are in crisis because of a lack of EU staff, and a lack of EU lorry drivers leads to supermarket shelves lying empty – where is the promised Brexit dividend?

Mairianna Clyde, Edinburgh

Booster bookings

Could John Swinney please answer two questions about the recorded telephone message for Covid-19 booster/ flu vaccinations?

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If the average time for a call to be answered is 3.5 minutes, were all of my acquaintance desperately unlucky (12-35 minutes)? If all the information, as the message states, is available on the website, why is there no booking system there?

The person I spoke to was very helpful and found an appointment. But I was only phoning because the promised blue envelope has still to arrive.

The administrative side is badly letting down their medical colleagues, who have proved professional, efficient and kind to boot., Moyra Forrest, Edinburgh

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