On August 28 The Courier carried a special double page of letters on the independence referedum.
Fatal flaw in Yes camp’s pound claim
Sir, I listened with disbelief on Monday night as Alex Salmond declared triumphantly that the Better Together campaign conceded that an independent Scotland could use the pound.
Mr Salmond is no fool but he is playing the Scottish people for fools in this extraordinary claim.
In the Referendum Debate on BBC2 on Tuesday night, in a few well-chosen sentences, Charles Kennedy demolished the Yes argument and showed the fatal flaw in their claim.
Scotland can use a pound but not the pound as we know it. The pound is the pound sterling backed by all of UK assets standing behind the Bank of England.
Any other pound which is not likewise backed up might as well be called the pound of mince.
It really is that simple. I know it.
For sure Mr Salmond knows it but is too deep into the strategy of “say anything to win” to admit it. The people of Scotland deserve honesty on this vital fact and I call upon the Yes campaigners to cease this duplicitous fudge of the most vital issue influencing our decision next month.
Sandy Green. The Old Rectory, Cupar.
No valid case for splitting from the UK
Sir, The so-called debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling on Monday evening was a complete turn-off. The BBC presenter, Glenn Campbell, had absolutely no control over the proceedings. It could only be described as an unpleasant “rammy”.
Mr Salmond may have scored more points on this occasion for the sheer volume of his delivery and his increasingly aggressive stance, but the content of his presentation did nothing to assure voters that Scotland becoming independent of the UK is viable.
We, the electorate, are still no closer to finding out what plans Mr Salmond and the SNP have for dealing with the voting public’s major concerns such as: the currency, Bank of England, European Union membership, the financial services sector, defence and NATO.
On the evidence presented by the separatists to date, it would be very foolish for anyone to vote “yes”. Mr Salmond simply has not presented us with a valid case for quitting the UK.
Perhaps we should keep a close eye on the odds being offered by the bookies they are more reliable than most of the opinion polls.
Robert I G Scott. Northfield, Ceres.
Too many intractable problems
Sir, As expected, Alex Salmond did not repeat the mistake of underestimating Alastair Darling and won the stairhead rammy that passed for a second debate on points.
But other referendums show the side supporting the status quo does not actually need to win the debate it just needs to show a vote for change involves risks and uncertainties.
The First Minister’s improved performance will not turn public opinion around and it looks beyond doubt that Scotland will vote against a break-up of the United Kingdom.
There were just too many intractable problems pensions, jobs, public spending, tax base shrinkage, oil, green energy, black-outs, defence and, above all, currency.
But it was not all negative and I suspect victory was secured when the main parties made clear they would devolve significant additional powers in the event of a “no” vote.
Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.
Surprised he is bothering with referendum
Sir, I thought that Alistair Darling came across as a dignified statesman in Monday night’s televised debate on the referendum.
Alex Salmond on the other hand appeared to be a bit of a ruffian who thought that shouting was the way forward.
His antic of coming in front of the lectern was a bit pompous and his attitude to Trident made me think he just wanted to put the clock back and pretend that by removing it we would somehow become better people.
I suppose he realises that any nuclear attack on Britain will not conveniently stop at the Scottish border. Whatever he suggests the Scottish defence system will consist of I doubt it will be anything other than ineffectual.
There are so many people being asked to take his word that everything will be all right on the night, that he can have whatever currency he chooses, can join any club he chooses, and he will tell anyone who cares to listen to his explanation, about the rules under which the world will have to accept his plans for Scotland’s Future.
I am surprised that he is bothering with the referendum.
A A Bullions. 6 Glencairn Crescent, Leven.
Membership issues still to be resolved
Sir, The question of an independent Scotland’s membership of the European Union, NATO and other treaty organisations remains a live issue which has still to be resolved.
We have heard various opinions but none of these seem to have been authoritative. It occurs to me the answer may lie in international or constitutional law.
Would independence be regarded as the secession of Scotland from the union such that all treaties and other international agreements would be annulled and have to be renegotiated by the new independent state?
Alternatively, would independence amount to and require the repeal, or whatever the legal term is, of the Act of Union with the consequences the same for both the separated parties?
In other words, would both remain in, for example the EU, or would both have to renegotiate all treaties which have current effect?
Perhaps there might be other consequences of a formal dissolution of the union. Does anyone have a legal opinion on this matter?
Incidentally, and regardless of these questions, in the event of Scottish independence the rump of the United Kingdom would have to find itself a new name as the old one would no longer apply.
David Lindsay. 14 Bamff Court, Alyth.
Hope and pray that sense will prevail
Sir, I felt I ought to write to your paper from here in Cornwall. I have been visiting Scotland, Perthshire in particular, for more than 60 years, staying many times in beautiful Kenmore and visiting all of Scotland, which as a family we all love.
You have achieved much over the years.You have a separate legal system, better care for the elderly, a world-renowned education system, better transport links and an assembly to make and pass your own internal laws, etc.
Honestly, what more, except full independence?
As an ordinary citizen of Great Britain I fear this a great deal. I have no political axe to grind, no second home, no financial connection, just a sense of sheer calamity if this happens. It fills me with dread.
I hope everyone voting “yes” realises what a serious step this is, let alone an irrevocable one which, unfortunately, will leave Great Britain so much weaker as a whole country.
I watched the Edinburgh Tattoo the other night and wondered what our forefathers would have thought of this prospect. Although a Cornishman my uncle served in the Highland Light Infantry in the First World War.
I sincerely hope and pray that sense will prevail and that we shall not descend into chaos after referendum day.
Roger Salter. Goldsithney, Penzance, Cornwall.
Does it mean no more free bus passes?
Sir, It has been drawn to my attention that all free bus passes, issued by the SNP Scottish Government, expire in December 2016. Does this mean, that in the event of a “yes” vote in the referendum, that this scheme will come to an end and there will be no more free bus passes?
Councillor Mac Roberts. Ward 1, Carse of Gowrie.
If oil had been found off coast of England…
Sir, I am astonished that no one, apparently, has asked the following question in the referendum debates.
If all of the North Sea oil had been found off the coast of England would Alex Salmond and the SNP be seeking independence for Scotland?
Scotland could be independent, with or without revenue from North Sea oil, but neither side has been convincing in explaining the consequences.
Jim Gibb. 38 Smithfield Crescent, Blairgowrie.
A chance to take charge of our own future
Sir, This is an open letter to Moray. Moray (not his real name) is a good friend. He runs a small, honest, business in Dundee, the kind with four or five employees, and very successful. Why? Because it is built on hard work, solid experience and Scottish ingenuity. He keeps in tune with people and switches his business to wherever good opportunities emerge.
But Moray is a “no” voter. Without discussion. Why? Because, he believes, business will dry up and opportunities will disappear, companies will pack up and leave Scotland.
Moray, when the USA or Canada, or Australia, or New Zealand, left UK rule did their economies collapse? Or Iceland when it gained independence from Denmark; or Finland when it struggled free from Sweden, and then Russian control? Did theirs?
There will undoubtedly be a period of settling in with Scottish independence. Some businesses will choose this time to close, or to move south but only the ones which are on the brink anyway.
Remember when opponents of the ban on smoking in public places said that pubs would close down? Some pubs which were about to close did indeed close down, but others popped up, and Scottish pubs have emerged stronger, more attractive places.
So, Moray, don’t believe those great leaders of industry who say that Scottish business, with its experience and ingenuity, will go down the tubes with independence. On the contrary, some weak companies will go, but the vast majority will emerge stronger and better connected.
But the referendum, and Scotland’s independence, is not so much for you, Moray, or for me. It is for our children and our grandchildren. It is about a country owned and governed by its own people. The freedom to make our own decisions. The ability to choose governments which will take responsibility for what is happening to our fellow-citizens.
How comfortable do you feel, Moray, that people across Scotland get sick and die younger than people in the south of England? The average life expectancy in Glasgow is 74 years, compared with 89 years in London.
That 15 years difference is shocking and has not arisen by chance. It is because of the more frequent and earlier onset of chronic diseases, related to poorer socio-economic conditions and fewer life opportunities for people in Scotland. Successive UK governments, both Conservative and Labour have presided over this ghastly disparity.
And if you or your family become unwell, Moray, what do you do? You go down to the GP, or present yourself at A&E in Ninewells, and everything gets sorted. You don’t pay for treatment, you have paid your taxes! But we cannot keep up the current level of services in the NHS for much longer under devolution. The level of funding provided under the Barnett formula is being reduced every year by selling off NHS services to private companies.
A group of 14 ‘leading’ biomedical researchers published a letter in The Courier a few weeks ago, claiming that biomedical research would go down the tubes after independence, because UK funding would disappear. Most were not actually Scottish and all bar one were members or “commanders” of the British Empire. They are all good people, but badly misguided.
As an active Scottish biomedical researcher, I can tell you that we have been able to do really good research because of that combination of hard work experience and Scottish ingenuity, not because we depend on UK research funds.
We are good at finding the funds for high-impact research, and the sources of funding will keep on changing with or without independence.
Moray, we have a chance to take charge of our own future, to change what is happening, and make this a stronger fairer country.
Mike Lean. Professor of Human Nutrition, University of Glasgow. Newtyle, Angus.
“Yes” won’t be mandate to keep sterling
Sir, There will be no question on the referendum ballot paper about what currency an independent Scotland should use. Mr Salmond should not be asserting that a result in favour of independence may be taken as a mandate for keeping or sharing the pound sterling.
C J Allan. Mansefield, Tealing, Dundee.
Between a rock and a hard place
Sir, Two socialists arguing. One who has already wrecked the UK. The other who wants to demolish it completely.
Malcolm Parkin. 15 Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross.
Alex is now offering three plan Bs
Sir, Prior to the referendum “debate” on BBC, Alex Salmond said in a press statement he had not explained his proposed currency plan “very well”. Now, following the debate he says there are three plan Bs, all of which neither the SNP or any one else can see as functional. All we need to know now is which plan B will become plan A as we know the present plan A is a “no no”.
Colin Cookson. Glenrothes.
No more promises we need a clean break
Sir, Could the Scots be “conned” for a third time?
In the 1970s Sir Alec Douglas Home urged us to vote “no” to devolution and they (the Tories) would give us “ something better”.
Older readers will recall the Covenant Home Rule movement in the 1950s, signed by a huge number of Scots.
Both popular demands for some self-government were swiftly consigned to the Westminster waste bin.
Now we are asked to accept “promises” of further devolution if we vote “no”.
This, mark you, from the same people who refused to allow a “devo-max” question on the ballot paper (which, to their great credit, the SNP did accept), and who are now tripping over each other to offer, well, devo-max.
That will not happen.
Boris and his fans, and the majority of the English people, have the power their votes in the 2015 general election and they say “no”.
The recent Future of England survey shows that a thumping majority of the English want Scotland brought to heel if there is a “no” vote.
Rest assured that we will be punished swingeing budget cuts will only be the start for having the temerity to threaten the union, never mind that it is a failing and faded state, well past its sell-by date.
A clean, amicable break, with the exciting prospect of building a “new” country is the fabulous prospect before us.
David Roche. Hill House, Coupar Angus.
What a proud boast can be ours…
Sir, The Better Together Campaign is fixated on using change as a tactic to scare the electorate from embracing a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Change is constantly with us. Under Westminster rule we have seen the loss of the coal industry, the steel industry, the car and ship- building industries, to mention only a few important ones. Others will be well able to add to this list.
Even banking, although nearly lost through mismanagement, has been subject to much change.
Although, at the time the changes have been a great shock, we have adapted to the change and welcomed the opportunities it has afforded.
Should we be afraid to embrace independence and all the opportunities it offers.
Will we not hold our heads up high with pride to point out a major change: Scotland became independent through a democratic vote it set aside the violence, the gun and the bomb which were the precursor to independence in the countries in the rest of the world.
What a proud boast can be ours on September 18!
Let’s not miss the opportunity.
Brian Rattray. 124/2 Gylemuir Road, Corstorphine, Edinburgh.
Have they no belief in Scots people?
Sir, When I read the letters page on Tuesday I thought to myself that the Better Together camp must be rubbing their hands with glee as the writers all obviously believed all the scaremongering that has been going on.
What a bunch of spineless nellies. Have they no belief in the capability of Scottish people to be all they can be?
Also, all the hype about us not being able to use the pound is just so much rubbish.
Let’s be honest, nobody knows what the future holds, but if we don’t try it we will always be at the mercy of a government that we didn’t vote for, foisted on us by our “Better Together” neighbours.
June Reid, 12 Findhorn Street, Dundee.
Fear losing their seats on the gray train
Sir, Alastair Darling’s performance in the referendum debate was risible and pathetic. He was utterly and comprehensively humiliated on every issue from currency to the NHS to North Sea oil.
The Better Together case for the union has been completely torn down. Mr Darling could not provide any answers on what extra powers Holyrood will get. He could not guarantee the NHS won’t be privatised nor could he guarantee the Tories would not win the next UK general election. Or, that Scotland won’t be torn from the EU by an in out EU referendum
If Scots vote “no” what we can expect is further Tory austerity which will not be mitigated by an unlikely Labour win at the next UK general election. Labour are as committed to welfare cuts as the Tories.
The reason for the cuts in the first place is due to the bank bailout that Mr Darling was the architect of.
It is an abusrd proposition to claim Scotland is best governed by a parliament where we elect 4.3% of the members.
Mr Darling and his fellow Lib Dem unionist MPs fear losing their seats on the taxpayer-funded Westminster gravy train. That is why they are fighting for the union.
A “yes” vote will make Scotland fairer and more democratic.
Alan Hinnrichs. 2 Gillespie Terrace, Dundee.