Independence debate lacks sparkle and leadership

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The quality and relevance of the debate on Scottish independence has suffered from two interrelated misconceptions. The first has been to confuse the merits, or otherwise, of Alex Salmond and the SNP on the one hand and the desirability of independence on the other.

The SNP in the capable hands of Alex Salmond has been the main vehicle for independence, but it has no divine right to govern afterwards. Its attractiveness as a political party and its current policies on things like taxation and childcare, whether popular or not, are short-term questions largely irrelevant to the case for independence.

After independence, if it comes, there may well be other politicians and other parties stepping forward to run Scotland, probably for hundreds of years. The competing policies of the SNP and Labour parties on such matters as the “bedroom tax” and targeted or universal benefits today are more relevant to current parliamentary election manifestos than to any worthwhile vision of a long-term future for our country.

Similarly, our liking or disliking of the present crop of politicians is of only transitory importance. Brian Wilson, in his recent diatribe (Perspective,

22 March) against Salmond and the SNP falls into this trap by equating them with the case for independence. As a result, his evident dislike for Alex Salmond spills over into his argument against independence.

It is perfectly possible to admire Salmond’s ability while admitting that his brand of synthetic avuncularity is not everyone’s cup of tea. Once again, neither attitude adds anything to the essence of the debate.

(Dr) John Slee

Hopetoun Terrace

Gullane, East Lothian

Joyce McMillan (Perspective,

28 March) concludes by stating that she recognises “the language of bullying and disrespect”. What, clearly, she does not recognise is reality – nor does she recognise when she has been conned by the SNP leadership. 

Joyce mentions as an example of her thesis “George Osborne’s threat to refuse a shared currency”. Osborne, however, sets out what is obvious: if Scotland leaves the UK “club”, it cannot expect to share the benefits of belonging to that “club”.

Of course Scotland will be able to continue to use sterling, but it will not be able to influence the policies that determine its value internationally and the resultant economic effects. These will be set to favour England, Wales and Northern Ireland, possibly to the detriment of Scotland’s interests. 

Joyce also states, that the self-confidence of those who remain in Scotland has suffered because of the Union. Many Scots who have moved south have, however, demonstrated that they can flourish on a “bigger playing field”. What a pity it would be if we limited the opportunities for our children by deciding that it is better for them to be a “big fish in a small pond” than to have the opportunities which the UK offers.

John Bryson

Nether Craigow


The continuing rather dull and time-consuming chatter about independence constantly surprises and concerns me. Have none of our worthies realised that the majority of voters (in my, albeit, limited straw-poll) are making their decisions on mostly emotional grounds? Does it feel right to remain within the United Kingdom with uncertain prospects, or does it feel right to become a North Atlantic archipelago and peninsular with equally uncertain prospects? 

I fear that all the time and effort spent giving out facts and figures actually cuts little ice, and this is not really helped by the leaders of the campaigns seeming remarkably uncharismatic and terribly low-profile. Can role-models not be identified for all eligible generations of voters who are then able to state their feelings with some passion? 

Come on folks, let’s get some excitement into all of this, it is a great big moment!

David Gerrard

Spylaw Park


How many times have disingenuous Yes campaigners accused Better Together of “negativity”? This is a deliberate tactic designed to discourage awkward questions – as well as to make No campaigners doubt that they have, in fact, said anything positive about Great Britain.

Having previously debated evolution with creationists, it is a tactic I recognise well. Creationists demand “evidence for evolution” and are promptly pointed towards genetic, geological, biological, anatomical, paleontological and bio-geographical sources. They invariably respond by complaining that no evidence has been offered.

Yes campaigners demand a “positive case for the Union” and are promptly pointed towards the UK’s shared strengths, supports, successes, stability, security, resources, prosperity and international influence. They invariably respond by complaining that no positive case has been put – and usually before launching into a negative, stream-of-consciousness monologue against Great Britain and the Better Together campaign. The hypocrisy of this position beggars belief.

Keith Gilmour

Netherton Gate


SO, A Tory minister leaks that in the event of a Yes vote the UK government would allow Scotland to share the pound. Some conservatives in England would be delighted if Scotland chooses independence. It would make them the governing party and with no proportional representation that would deal with general elections for a long time

What matters in the event of a Yes vote is rUK public opinion. The English and our former Celtic allies would feel rejected. The abandoned spouse is not happy after a divorce .The public mood would decide how the government acts; do not expect enlightened judgments. 

Hugh Mackay

Blacket Place