Mr David Allan (Letters, 28 December) and other regular correspondents find difficulty in assessing the case for Scottish independence partly because they place great emphasis on short-term issues such as how long it might take to access membership of the EU and Nato, and what would be our currency arrangements.
These relatively short-term problems are not fundamental to the case and could in any event be resolved within a few years by any competent Scottish Government.
In fact, the decision for or against independence should be perfectly simple. It depends on a choice between two alternative visions.
The first requires some knowledge of a sample of successful small European countries, for example Austria, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden.
From amongst these countries it is possible to select systems of education, social security, public transport, banking, taxation and government itself (see Switzerland’s referendum system) which are different from our own.
Publicly available statistics suggest that in many cases these different approaches have produced better outcomes than we see in Scotland. One can envisage a self-governing Scotland, untrammelled by its present unwieldy UK status and benefiting from its abundant natural resources, finding its way to a stronger economy and better lifestyle for its citizens than we have at present.
The small countries listed above all achieve this despite the fact that some are members of the EU, some not; some are in Nato, some not; some have independent currencies, some do not. They have been successful despite these differences, differences which are causing us such agonising but largely irrelevant debate.
The second alternative vision involves projecting into the future our current system of semi-competent rule from London by Old Etonian cliques alternating with Brown or Blairite-tinged Labour governments, dragging us into illegal or hopeless wars at the behest of the United States as we fulfil our expensive role at the rump end of a once glorious but now fading world power.
I find a decision in favour of independence to be an easy one but it is unreasonable to expect every single aspect of such a change to be completely cut and dried beforehand.
Post-independence negotiations will be necessary and important. I know of no country gaining independence which has regretted its decision. Why should Scotland be different?
(Dr) John Slee
Gullane, East Lothian
Dr John Cameron (Letters, 31 December) seeks to perpetuate the myth that the Scots have been “happily married to the other nations… of these islands” for 300 years.
This is at best disingenuous, at worst a cynical untruth. Consider only the fierce opposition of the common people to the Union in 1707; the Jacobite uprisings (albeit not popular in the Lowlands), their brutal suppression and the cultural genocide which followed; the Clearances, emigration and conscription as cannon fodder (disproportionately sacrificed, from the Heights of Abraham to the Somme and St Valery); the dreadful slums and poverty of the working class (who still endure a poor standard of housing, health and education); the constant belittling of Scotland and her affairs in the Union Parliament and English press ever since.
It is a marriage of convenience at best, greatly favouring the dominant partner (though still less wretched than that endured by the Irish).
It is no defence of the British Union that life for the poor was, and is, grim throughout England too, nor that it was common throughout Europe in the 19th century to “discourage” nationalist sentiment.
In the 21st century Britain is the odd man out – the Poles, Irish, Norwegians, Czechs, Finns, Greeks, Estonians, on and on, have chucked out their masters, sometimes violently, sometimes by negotiation (the latter process now under way in Scotland) and none of them wish to go back to the old arrangement.
You published another tirade from Thomas R Burgess (1 January), who derides Mr Foreman for his letter of 31 December in which he had the temerity to question the SNP’s assertions of the benefits of its version of independence. To illustrate his spurious points, Mr Burgess goes down the facile route of quoting statements from Westminster which turned out to be less than accurate.
Well, sir, we can all play at that game: remember Mr Salmond telling us about how we would be part of the “arc of prosperity” including Ireland and Iceland?
If Scottish independence brought us the same “benefits” as Eire suffered after the “Celtic Tiger” boom, we could look forward to some 200,000 of our 15-to-29-year-olds being forced to emigrate to look for work.
However, on the plus side, at least Iceland jailed some bankers. Remember the SNP telling us how the euro was a wonderful innovation that would benefit us all?
Now, we will retain the pound if (and it is a huge “if”) rUK and the EU let us. Remember when the SNP was going to be non-nuclear, non-Nato? There are many more examples that could be cited.
Mr Burgess rightly says that the Scots are as good as anybody else; he must be aware that it was a Scot whose mantra was “the end of boom and bust” but ignoring that, we have contributed massively to the UK over the centuries and we will continue to do so as a United Kingdom.
David K Allan
Haddington, East Lothian
I was pleased to see Iain McMillan, the director of CBI Scotland, challenging the SNP, on behalf of his members in Scotland, to be open and realistic about the dangers of separation (your report, 31 January).
Mr McMillan posed a number of specific questions that his members would like answers on. Sadly, answers there were none, and instead of dealing with the substance of his points, a spokesman for Nicola Sturgeon attacked him for regurgitating “the same old scare stories”.
Business for Scotland, part of the Yes campaign, attacked Mr McMillan, claiming he did not speak for his members, suggesting that the CBI did not represent the views of companies north of the Border.
Business for Scotland claims to have signed up 1,100 members while the CBI in Scotland has around 24,000 members who employ 630,000 people.
The instinctive response of the SNP when challenged is to attack – in short it attacks the messenger but doesn’t address the problem.
To quote Victor Hugo: “Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.”
Christine Jardine states in her article on the European Union (Perspective, 31 December) that the Scottish National Party is obsessed with independence. With that degree of perspicacity it’s a surprise that she has reached the giddy heights of second on the Lib Dems’ list for the European Parliament elections.