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Independence could mean a second chance for Scotland's fishing industry

Jim Sillars and Gordon Wilson make sound sense with their proposal that Scotland, in the event of regaining independence, could join the European Free Trade Association alongside the likes of Norway and stay outwith the EU ("Independent Scotland could be forced to join euro", The Herald, November 6).

This proposal could be the answer to a rebuff from the EU, although, as they point out: "As the EU's major oil producer and important contributor to the Common Fisheries Policy, Scotland is not in the position of a beggar at the Brussels gate."

In 1973 Ted Heath's Tory Government sold out the UK's thriving fishing industry in order to gain entry into the then EEC, whose 1970 Common Fisheries Policy decreed that vessels belonging to member states would have equal access to the waters of its members.

This meant, as far as Scotland's own extensive territorial fishing grounds were concerned, the European Community fishing states could exploit the resource of a fish-rich member in order to maintain fishing fleets and employment levels they could not obtain from the resources of their own waters. The direct cost to Scotland included thousands of jobs, a great loss of wealth creation and the formerly competent management of fish stocks evolving into damaging exploitation.

Former busy harbours and fish markets, from where Scots fishing boat crews would travel home, are now used only by large Spanish and French trawlers to offload catches directly into refrigerated trucks bound by road and ferry to Spain and France. The Spanish fishing fleet is by far the largest in Europe and there would be powerful business lobbying to allow Scotland easy entry into the EU, for obvious reasons.

Could there be a second chance for Scotland's fishing industry if independence is achieved? Could this nation once again, in good time, revert to its pre-1973 halcyon days when this important industry was in complete control of its own destiny?

Frederick Jenkins,

The Lodge,

Burnton,

Kippen.

I have no notion as to Allan C Steele's political affiliations but I suspect he is at least a tacit supporter of the Liberal Democrats (Letters, November 7). Federalism is a nostrum that has been advocated by that party and its forerunner, the Liberal Party, for more years than I care to remember.

The idea has a superficial attraction as a half-way house between Scottish Nationalism and Unionism but though federalism has been long espoused, it has gained little traction outwith the Liberal camp and has one gigantic flaw.

For federalism to work in Britain all the disparate parts of the kingdom would have to embrace the notion with equal enthusiasm. However, the attempt to spread devolution to parts of England other than London has already failed and seems unlikely to come about any time soon.

This is because, to most English people, Britishness and Englishness are the same thing. There seems, therefore, little need for a number of separate legislatures when Westminster suits admirably. They are encouraged in that belief by a metrocentric media that considers Holyrood, Cardiff and Belfast elections to be regional matters while the London mayoral election is national news.

It is futile to think these attitudes can suddenly change or that a party whose fortunes have varied between slightly hopeful and futile since the days of Gladstone and Lloyd George can gain a majority any time soon.

The only choice on offer to the people of Scotland is either to become a normal country, making its own choices, or remaining a forgotten backwater of a Westminster Government that only sits up and takes notice when the prospect of Scottish independence seems imminent and real.

Even now, less than two years away from the independence referendum, the Tory/LibDem Coalition is behaving as though the result is a foregone conclusion, as witness Phillip Hammond's crass pronouncements when he briefly flitted in to Faslane recently.

David C Purdie,

12 Mayburn Vale,

Loanhead, Midlothian.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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