Pro-Union campaign falls at three hurdles

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I READ Phil Anderton’s ­article (News, 24 February) with ­considerable interest as I was taken by his initially more ­conciliatory tone.

However, his opening ­gambit did rather expose the weakness of his argument: for he tabled three key conditions that he felt both the Yes and No campaigns should try to meet. These were that most Scots aspire to live in a country with an enduring and fair prosperity, have a real voice in matters that affect their lives, feel safe and to be proud of their identity and heritage.

Unsurprisingly, having stated such reasonable and wholesome criteria, he promptly fell at all three hurdles. Encouragingly for Scotland, that will increasingly be the case as more and more people recognise the economic and societal failures of the Westminster system, the democratic deficit of having Westminster governments we did not vote for, or the shabby offer to subsume our increasingly confident Scottish identity for an out of date British one which will only survive a Yes vote if it gets with the times.

Phil then went on to laud the big banks in the City of London at a time when the new Governor of the Bank of England is calling them to account and luminaries like Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and Michael Heseltine are recognising the damage done to other parts of the UK by the perennial London-centric policy of UK governments.

Sadly, Phil’s article then degenerated into overblown claims for the financial management of this broken system and the sort of negativity, scare-stories and lack of belief in our ability to endure, prosper and grow as Scotland that is usually the hallmark of a desperate employer trying to deflate the ambition of an employee who wants to resign and start out on her own.

The closing emotional tone of Phil’s contribution proves that for many like him the only case for the Union is really an emotional one, much of which we could retain as an independent Scotland having refreshed our social union with the rest of these isles for the new era.

Jim Mather, Glasgow

PHIL Anderton asks whether the promotion of our businesses, ideas and products would be enhanced if we “went it alone and turned our back on the clout of the UK and our global network of embassies”. As the founding chief executive of Scottish Development International I speak with some experience on the matter. The case the “Better Together” campaign makes that Scotland’s export promotion and inward investment efforts are greatly helped by the UK’s overseas embassies is hugely overplayed. Of course, it’s a “nice to have” if the ambassador can hold a reception and offer a glass of wine to the participants in a trade mission as they pass through Washington or Tokyo or wherever they might be, but that’s a “nice to have” that could easily be replicated after independence once Scotland built its own (hopefully more modest, practical and less expensive) network of diplomatic representation where it is needed.

The overseas promotion of our businesses, ideas and products is best served by the day-to-day, task-focused market research, research into rules and regulations, negotiation and sales calls undertaken by SDI staff at home and abroad; that’s what makes the difference to whether our companies are effectively helped to enter new markets and whether foreign companies choose to do business here, rather than a bit of gladhanding at the ambassador’s residence.

Martin Togneri, via email