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Positive case for voting No lies in being proud of what we have

THE positive case for voting No begins with pride:

pride in the achievements of the Union wrought by generations of Britons over many centuries. Pride in the House of Commons, the Mother of Parliaments. Ours in Edinburgh will never be what that is. Pride in defending freedom in two world wars when we stood alone in the second and eventually won with the aid of the US and USSR who came in late. Of course our Commonwealth helped: we would have failed without it.

Our Union has been, in global terms, the finest of all in propagating civilized values. Travel abroad and you realise the respect in which our Union is held. It is the paradigm every country wishes to emulate; the reason so many immigrants want to come here: our way of life is, on the whole, tolerant, helpful to others and a place in which it is a pleasure to live and work, in which merit gets its just reward and the poor and disadvantaged are cared for. We expect and receive justice in this country, on the whole. We do not have this confidence in many other countries. Ask them what they think of our referendum and they will answer: with all that achieved, why ever would you think of giving it up? They would give their eye teeth for what we have.

What has caused this state of affairs? Insensitivity by the English. Too often they speak of the Englishman when they should say "Briton". The Bank of England ought to be the Bank of Britain. And any Scot who crosses the Border should get parity for his Scottish banknote. We are all of us in the UK Britons first. And yet, the best of us do enjoy to meet and co-operate with our Irish, Welsh and English co-Britons, just as we should. And we shout for them when they battle on the playing field.

William Scott,

23 Argyle Place,

Rothesay.

I CAN confirm to Bob MacDougall (Letters, August 27) that there are no longer any inspirational politicians left in Scotland. They have, indeed, all left to ply their trade and make their name elsewhere in the world. They've been doing this for more than a generation and there is a good reason for this - a reason which has not yet been explored in the referendum debate. Potentially great politicians and leaders-in-training, along with many others, are leaving or have left Scotland because they feel, or have felt, the "curse" of the people's devastating and intuitive distrust of anyone who excels.

Scottish people - as a society -- hate excellence and deal brutally with anyone who tries to lead, or who thrives. Stick your head above the parapet in any aspect of Scottish business, professional, cultural or social environment and you'll quickly hear the well-worn put-down - "Who do you think you are? We're all Jock Tamson's bairns here." One taste of that medicine sends our best people running away to further their career by serving some other part of the world where they can be appreciated. If you look very closely, you may well see that those who remain as leaders and in positions of responsibility quite often have come from another society or culture and are immune to this damaging aspect of the Scottish psyche - or maybe have a thicker skin than a native Scot.

Even in their private lives and leisure pursuits, Scots cringe at stepping into lead roles. How many times have you witnessed the embarrassing silence when some group or other clearly needs a leader and, whilst everyone recognises this fact, no-one will dare step forward. That is Scottishness at work.

We cannot succeed as a nation without getting rid of this damning self-effacing trait. It is responsible for the desperate longing for uniformity, state support and so-called equality - a grey society in which, of course, no one will ever need to stand out.

Scotland as an independent, successful nation? I think not. The slippery slope to political and economic ruin is presided over by this devil within the Scottish nature - and, to make matters worse, it is often not recognised as damaging or is misjudged as community spirit. I thank God for the United Kingdom and for all races who don't understand the word "bairn" and who have never heard of the redoubtable Reverend John (Jock) Thomson of Duddingston Kirk.

Dr David Sutherland,

1 Lochend Road,

Troon.

IN the event of a Yes vote in the referendum, Alex Salmond has stated that Scotland will achieve independence status in 2016.

Could he please inform us of the proposed timescale for the disestablishment of the Scottish National Party? After all, he has always insisted that a Yes vote is not a vote for the SNP, it is a vote for independence.

Robert Gowans,

38 Divert Road,

Gourock.

THE referendum campaign has become mired in detailed arguments over currency uncertainties and the like. I'm reminded of the old quotation about "knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing". We need to raise the level of debate above that of the unedifying Salmond v Darling contest and consider the independence question in a more circumspect fashion.

Gordon Brown, in his latest book, My Scotland, Our Britain, poses the question of why the independence movement failed to make more headway in the 1970s. Being older than Mr Brown, I can advise him that the contrast between the political climates north and south of the Border is much more stark today than it was in the 1970s. The Conservatives were still a force in Scotland in those pre-Thatcher days and Ukip was not on the march in England, with the other three parties joining in the race to pull up the drawbridge against immigration from Europe. Scotland was not facing the prospect of being pulled out of the EU by a UK-wide referendum.

The role of the EU in fostering peaceful relations between the major European powers cannot be stressed enough. We should remember the lessons of the 1930s and take great care to avoid sleepwalking into a re-run of the tragic consequences. The words of Robert Burns "An' forward, tho' I canna see, I guess an' fear!" come to mind.

An independent Scotland will be able to distance itself from the anti-European sentiments south of the Border and take the lead in adopting a constructive approach to EU membership.

Willie Maclean,

Altacarry, Carnock Road,

Gowkhall,

Dunfermline.

ALEX Salmond attracts an extra­ordinary level of bile from some opponents of independence. One critic recently described him to me as "worse than Hitler".

Such absurd remarks surely show the people who make them know a winner when they see one. Otherwise they would see no need to exaggerate so.

Any politician who successively managed to get up the noses of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair must have been doing something right during his long career.

However, like him or loathe him, Mr Salmond is not what voters should focus on next month.

The referendum is not about any of the individuals now having their hour upon the stage, but the governance of Scotland for all time coming.

In fact, a Yes win would be no guarantee that the SNP government gets re-elected in 2016. Remember how voters dumped war hero Winston Churchill at the 1945 General Election.

Scottish independence would invigorate all of Scotland's parties as they would no longer be answerable to UK headquarters, and their brightest politicians would switch their career focus to Holyrood, as the SNP's best people have long since done.

By allowing them to shed their toxic association with Thatcherism, independence may even be the Scottish Tories' only hope, as even Nicola Sturgeon has acknowledged, of ever regaining their mid-1950s status as Scotland's most popular party.

Meanwhile, however, any flaws or gaffes of the First Minister will still inevitably be seized on by the Unionist camp in these final weeks as reasons to vote No.

Perhaps the Yes side should respond by using to their advantage the other members of the UK's top trio of populist politicians.

How about full-page newspaper advertisements just before September 18 bearing large photos of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage above the question: "If you want to be governed by these men, vote No"?

Stephen Nisbet,

15 Drummond Place,

Edinburgh.

IN the various TV debates, both camps seem to be harping on exclusively about Scots beings a few bawbees better or worse off. Only one person has hinted that there is an enormous bonus in not being forced to provide cannon fodder for Westminster's wars.

As an ex- national serviceman in a Scottish infantry regiment, it sickens me that soldiers' lives are so little valued.

Since the Union of the Crowns, Scots regiments have been cynically used with disastrous consequences. The First and Second World Wars and Korea saw Scots make up more than 25 per cent of UK fatalities. Iraq and Afghanistan shows the trend will continue.

Where 37 Scots were killed in Afghanistan, only 12 from London were killed. The Home Counties also got off lightly. Wales and the North of England also lost a disproportionate number.

Perhaps a Yes vote will benefit Wales and Northern England too as the Westminster warriors will realise that they can no longer afford to play war games.

Charlie Pollock,

Rubbybanks House,

Rubbybanks Road,

Cockermouth,

Cumbria.

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