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INSIDE TRACK: A bulging post bag in these unprecedented times

AS custodian of The Herald's Letters Pages, I am pleased to report that, despite a bulging mailbag, there has, as yet, been no major outbreak of epistolary egg-throwing in the independence referendum debate.

True, there have been occasional references to dictators, of both the Fascist and tinpot varieties (curiously, one on either side) lobbed in, but Scotland should be proud of the manner in which this national conversation is being conducted. Passions are high, but the invective has not been overly bitter. (And, in any case, any gratuitous or offensive insults are swiftly excised.)

With less than two weeks to go, the volume of mail received at The Herald, both by email and post, has almost trebled in the last month.

It would not be true to say there is only one show in town, but it has sometimes been a close-run thing.

There have been days recently when both of our daily letters pages have been devoted to the referendum, simply because that has been all people have been talking about - particularly in the aftermath of the TV debates - and many other occasions when there has been room for little else. I hope we will be forgiven for that. These times are unprece­dented; normal service will be resumed in due course.

It is now almost two years since the Edinburgh Agreement was signed, and one might be forgiven for thinking that all the arguments must surely have been given a thorough airing by now. But new stones are constantly being unturned, if not thrown.

We have published impassioned pleas recently on behalf of grand­children, and of grandparents; for the Braveheart ancestors and for unborn generations.

We have also received a great deal of mail from furth of the Border, from exiled Scots, and from the English, Irish and Welsh. Correspondence from the United States, Australia, Canada and Europe is now commonplace. It is beginning to feel like the turnout on referendum day would have been 80 per cent-plus even if the franchise had been global.

This week, two new referendum-related issues have been raised in the Letters Pages, that of the Merchant Navy and of arrangements for air traffic control. I have not the slightest doubt that more will come to light over the course of the next 13 days.

The world would be a dull place, though, if people only talked about one thing. Our readers, thankfully, are still exercised by other matters. Iraq, Iran, and Syria; Israel and Palestine; Ukraine and Russia; assisted dying; dogs in restaurants; bus lanes; cycling; malt whisky; renewable energy; commonplace books; and the library of the Glasgow School of Art - all have been aired over the last few days.

We are still accommodating 2,500 words of readers' views every day in print in The Herald, a forum of which we are immensely proud. On the Letters Pages we will continue to present, as we always have, the views of proponents of both sides of the debate.

It is a great pleasure to read all submissions. Even when I'm deflecting the eggs.

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