HAVING been dismayed by the seeming lack of vision of independence in the Yes Scotland campaign so far, I have been cheered by the gaffes of the Better Together launch ("No vote campaign launch gives citizens centre stage", The Herald, June 26).
We are told by Alistair Darling that a vote for independence would "buy a one-way ticket to send our children to a deeply uncertain destination". Ever since the Union, Scotland has been exporting her children on one-way tickets to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and, above all, England through emigration.
The Better Together leaflet reports that 800,000 Scots are living and working in England and Wales – a monstrous share of Scotland's five million people. Far from being 800,000 reasons for the Union, these are 800,000 reasons why the London-dominated Union should be dissolved to enable Scotland, with its vast natural resources, to devise economic policies to keep our young people at home if they wish to be.
At the time of the Union, Scotland had around one-quarter of the combined population of England and Scotland. Now it is just over 10% and still sinking. Over the centuries, Scotland has been bled dry through emigration, with our educational system training children for export at the expense of the Scottish community. So if the Union has been so good for Scotland, why has England's share of the combined population grown and ours declined? And is it surprising that parts of southern England, so near London, the centre of Government in the UK, are now denser in population than Holland? The impact of Anglo-Scottish Union can be summed up in one word: emigration.
Alistair Darling's slogan Better Together begs the question – for whom? On the evidence, it is better for England. A truer slogan would be: For England, Better Together. For Scotland, Better with Independence.
48 Monifieth Road, Broughty Ferry, Dundee.
READING your Letters Pages over the past couple of days, the main strands of the Nationalist arguments for the independence referendum have become clear. First, abuse Alistair Darling while piously trumpeting a "positive" campaign message. Contrary to Ruth Marr's assertions (Letters, June 25 ), Mr Darling was remarkably generous to Gordon Brown in his book, while not hiding the problems of working with him. I would argue he deserves extraordinary credit for stabilising a desperate situation. He cannot be held responsible for the mess America, Britain and Europe found themselves in a few years ago.
The second strand is to assert that independence will enable Scots to make decisions for themselves. Why, then, has this SNP administration been responsible for the most ferocious emasculation of local government in Scotland's history? Why is it so busy stripping as much as it can from the citizens it claims to represent? The reality of independence is the removal of power from Westminster to a small group at Holyrood. Hardly a great empowerment of the Scottish nation.
The third strand is that the Unionist parties are denying Scots the right to vote on more powers for the Scottish Parliament. The answer to that is very simple – such a question can be anything you want it to be. It will inevitably win because it is so ill-defined. Alex Salmond wanted a ballot on independence or Union. That is all he has the right to ask for and that is all that has a clear meaning in a yes/no ballot. The other parties are developing their own positions on further powers for the Scottish Parliament and indeed, speaking for the Liberal Democrats, they will probably be a good deal more coherent than the incoherent shambles which follows any attempt to get the SNP to define core positions on economics, defence, and many other issues. However, is it not rather to be commended than criticised that we are refusing to engage in cheap soundbites while the work of definition goes on?
The fourth strand is the most interesting. Let us call it Orwellian economics, as put forward by Alex Orr (Letters, June 25). The previous Nationalist argument that Scotland needed to be independent in order not to dance to the economic tune of the south-east of England has been replaced with the argument that the mighty Macpound, floating on its queasy cocktail of oil and whisky, will have the English begging at our door. This is moonshine to disguise the fact that the SNP's economic independence is merely the proposal to give up a situation where we have influence at the heart of UK economic policy in every aspect to one in which our currency, interest rates, and budget deficits will be dictated and controlled by a foreign country which will be looking after its own interests. It is a curious independence whose idea of sovereignty is to give up economic control to a foreign jurisdiction. The actuality of the SNP campaign is the opposite of its declared statements. So many years campaigning for independence, so little clue as to what it actually means.
10 Newington Road, Edinburgh.
I AM already bored with the bombardment of trite sloganism and negativity from the "No Campaign". I agree with Andrew Reid that this approach to the independence debate is unsatisfactory and insulting to the people of Scotland (Letters, June 26).
"Stronger together, weaker apart" is the type of meaningless slogan adopted by politicians when they have nothing positive to say. Why are we "Better Together"? This is not a given, and we are still waiting to be told why this should be.
If we were in a partnership of equals it might be more acceptable, but we are not. Scotland accounts for less than 10% of the UK total in terms of population and representation in Parliament and, contrary to the claims of the No campaigners, we have little or no influence in major economic, taxation and social decisions.
We are waiting for hard facts on what further powers would be devolved to Scotland by any future UK government if we reject independence. Why should this have to wait until after the referendum? In a single-question ballot it is quite possible that a large proportion of those who actually want Devo Plus would be more inclined to vote for independence, on the basis that this would give them more than they wanted rather than nothing at all. If the Unionist parties had any sense they should now be making them an offer they can't refuse – but of course that won't happen. It would be too positive.
It's time we started to have a proper debate, with both sides producing reasoned arguments to support their case, rather than the constant prophesies of doom from one side and vague promises of a land of permanent milk and honey from the other. Both campaigns should start to treat the Scottish voters with respect and credit us with some intelligence.
Iain AD Mann,
7 Kelvin Court,
Independence is a one-way ticket? Suits me. I wasn't thinking of buying a return.
50 Millbrix Avenue,
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