Who would get to vote in a second referendum? - Readers' Letters

Should people of Scottish descent resident elsewhere in the United Kingdom have a vote in a referendum on Scottish independence? We should be grateful to Alastair Stewart for raising the vexed question again (Scotsman, 29 June); it upturns a constitutional hornets’ nest and poses more questions than many might think.

Of course, if a Section 30 Order similar to the one granted nearly a decade ago comes into play, the issue will not arise. The Scottish Government will certainly apply the residency rule, with only those registered north of the Border eligible for the franchise. That does not obviate a more serious matter: should two million voters alone (the number that would secure a majority) determine the future of the United Kingdom with a population of over 65 million?

That is a crucial point to answer, and Alastair Stewart touches on it. It needs much more thought from the pro-independence school.

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A referendum will show the wishes of the voters. It will still need legislation to be passed at Westminster and Holyrood for those wishes to be put into effect. Only the most naive will think that would be a smooth path. It would depend very much on the parliamentary arithmetic, with a possibility of years of wrangling.

In 2014 both sides – the Westminster and Edinburgh governments – promised to “respect” the outcome of the poll. But what did that actually mean? It certainly did not mean that Westminster would grant all the Scottish Government’s wishes – it had its own interests to consider.

The residency rule seems the only practical way to determine who should get the vote. A successful outcome for the Yes side should be seen, though, as simply the start of a tortuous process, creating a political maelstrom many unionists will exploit.

Bob Taylor

Glenrothes, Fife

Cakes and ale

"Dost though think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” – Sir Toby Belch’s question from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night – applies to the policies intended to "save the planet by lowering standards of living", as suggets James Macintyre's letter (29 June) about our ruinously costly decarbonisation processes.

Because the UK's output of manmade greenhouse gases, including CO2, already represents only a vanishingly small proportion of the whole planet's, we have no need to decarbonise, especially since the great bulk of CO2 comes from nations such as China, India, Japan and many more who will not curb its release.

Those in political charge, if guided by a sense of proportion, would end our inevitably futile and absurdly costly aim to influence the global and local climate by decarbonising.

Thus, we could end useless virtue signalling and keep the effort and money for vital expenditures, including "cakes and ale".

Charles Wardrop, Perth, Perth and Kinross

No mandate

I note recent reference to Scotland's Climate Assembly and in particular Clark Cross's challenge to them and their ilk, to match their climate and envirommental aspirations with appropriate actions (Letters, 28 June).

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This assembly identified 16 major goals and 81 further recommendations regarding “how Scotland should change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way”. This is described as a mandate for change.

By definition a mandate is “an authoritative command or instruction”. Members received prior lectures (coaching) on the “climate emergency” so that “their knowledge and discussions [were] evidence based”. Hardly the stuff of comprehensive undersanding and authority.

In addition there is no detail regarding the social or financial implications of their wish list.

Further perusal of the Climate Assembly's report reveals that this small group of 100 people are purported to represent the democratic expression of the views of the Scottish nation on this issue, when it is clear from the phrasing of the initial statement that any alternative views were not up for serious consideration.

If this sequence of biased questions and sweeping statements is the Scottish Government's definition of a mandate and an expression of informed democracy, heaven help us.

Neil J Bryce, Kelso, Scottish Borders

Assisted dying

A new assisted dying bill brought forward by Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur, is, as usual, being opposed by religious lobbies.

Their arguments must be heard but it’s hard to shake the feeling that their position is underpinned by a religious belief that only their god can give and take life.

While this is entirely legitimate for fellow believers, they do not have a monopoly on morality and religious views should be considered only in proportion to their minority representation.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society

Moral vacuum

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Gina Davidson (Scotsman, 29 June) rightly refers to a "moral vacuum" existing in the upper echelons of the Tory Party manifesting itself most recently in the handling of the Matt Hancock fiasco. He should have been presented with no option but to resign immediately from his post as Health Secretary or be sacked.

Do we do things differently in Scotland? Ms Davidson points out that the “flawed plan to put hospital patients into care homes which did not have enough PPE, wasn't enough to warrant a resignation – either in Westminster or indeed in Holyrood”. Our Health Secretary actually admitted that "we failed to understand properly the needs of social care" and that the "mistake" created a "real problem".

This was surely a dereliction of duty with far more serious potential consequences than a breach of social distancing guidelines, however sleazy. Yet the First Minister allowed her to carry on regardless until voluntarily retiring at the election, offering the excuse that her mistakes may have occurred because she was "tired"!

Similarly it appears that no heads rolled after Audit Scotland reported a lack of preparedness for the pandemic resulting in, amongst other things, the shortages of PPE.

Now we learn that Leslie Evans, the Permanent Secretary, is to be replaced by the end of the year. Is she to quietly to move on or retire with a healthy pension after catastrophic errors in the handling of sexual harassment cases? So it would appear.

New regimes would have to prove they were any better but the only way to get rid of the moral vacuum at Westminster and Holyrood is to give them an opportunity by voting out the present incumbents at the next elections.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Four nations?

I wonder if Boris Johnson's government still regards the UK as a union of four nations, when his Department of Education is actively promoting "One Britain One Nation" in schools across the UK?

During the 2014 referendum former PM David Cameron stressed that the UK was made up of four nations; a “family of nations”. Now we have Boris Johnson's meaningless soundbite a “nation of equals”,

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The fact is with the near criminal mismanagement of Covid and the unfolding disaster of Brexit along with ministerial sleaze and cronyism, the Imperial United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is in terminal decline and its break-up is inevitable.

This is highlighted by the abject failure of any kind of UK leadership from Downing Street, where standards of conduct and duty are at an all-time low.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland

Faux indignation

The newest poll showing a slump in support for independence is a warning shot. The leadership of the SNP have become complacent and allowed the independence movement to be defined by inertia and arrogance.

The blame for this lies directly with Nicola Sturgeon and her clique. Groupthink has become the norm. Critical voices are smeared and isolated. Sturgeon has been given numerous mandates to hold a referendum and blown them all.

Since the election, a series of unionist non-entities have been lined up to parrot the lie that no mandate exists for a referendum. Absurdly, some of these have been Tory peers. Yet there has been little or no push-back form the SNP. Outside a few perfunctory cliché-ridden displays of faux indignation. These are as much use as a chocolate teapot and are indictive of the SNP “strategy” of doing nothing outside constitutional means.

This is a dead-end strategy. It plays right into unionist hands. What needs to happen is a date needs to be set for a referendum and a roadmap laid out showing how it will become a reality. If this is not done by the end of the summer Sturgeon needs to be replaced by someone who isn’t Angus Robertson.

Alan Hinnrichs, Dundee

Good example

While sad to learn of the death of former MP and MSP for Angus, Andrew Welsh (Scotsman, 18 June) it was heartening to read the warm tributes from his former colleagues in the SNP and beyond.

It is also worth remembering that Welsh was a devout Christian, whose lived out his faith in Jesus through the principled and gracious way he approached public life.

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Though his parliamentary service at Westminster and Holyrood far surpassed that of most of his colleagues in length, he was one of the humblest politicians around, being kind and gracious to everyone he worked with, regardless of seniority, status or party affiliation.

In an age of increased suspicion towards those in politics who are open about their religious convictions, we would do well to remember the wise – and godly – example of Andrew Welsh.

Michael Veitch, Parliamentary Officer, CARE for Scotland, Glasgow

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