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Independence is a cultural, as well as an economic and political, issue

Like many Scots, I suppose, I waver and am yet to be convinced about independence.

I have, however, warmed to the idea of being a grown-up nation, able to look after ourselves, make our own decisions and not be dependent on a bigger, more dominant, neighbour.

For so long we have blamed Westminster for most of our woes and it would be good to give the lie to this excuse once and for all. It would be good to stand on our own two feet and take responsibility for our own actions. But the tone and content of the current debate has left me cold. It also seems to lack any real conviction.

I have this disturbing feeling that the leadership for the Yes vote has lost confidence in its cause and that is very scary. The push for a second question, on the ballot paper, being a case in point. You only need a safety net if you think you are likely to fall. Independence doesn't sound like independence when it is dependent on keeping the sovereign, the pound, the Bank of England and on being in Nato with complicity in maintaining a nuclear arsenal.

It sounds like we will be exchanging a partnership (albeit an unequal one) for a model where we will lose our respect and our hands will be tied even more than they already are. The latest stooshie over the word "separation" only seems to confirm this.

So it was heartening to read Professor Alan Riach's column, saying culture is pivotal ("Pivotal role of culture in talking up independence", The Herald, February 20). Now that could make me excited.

On a recent visit to Slovakia, I took every opportunity, when language made it possible, to ask what people thought of the break-up of Czechoslovakia after 10 years. "Was it a good thing?"

The answer, despite the initial problems with the economy, was an unwavering "Yes".

"Things are better now," one person said, "now that we are independent, we can be friends with our Czech neighbours."

Czechoslovakia was not Great Britain but I agree with Prof Riach the issue is a cultural one.

Crawford Mackenzie,

6 Windsor Street,

Dundee.

I have never forgotten my introduction to Scottish literature. At 10 years old my reading diet had consisted of the Famous Five's jolly adventures, the trials and tribulations of the March family, and What Katy Did.

To help me pass the time while recovering from an illness, my mother bought me a book, and handing it to me said, "Sorry, it was all they had."

The book was Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped and it is still my favourite. Professor Alan Riach makes a refreshing, heart-soaring contribution to the debate on Scottish independence, and yet I cannot entirely agree with him that "there is only one argument for Scottish independence: the cultural argument".

Of course the cultural argument is a very important one, and Prof Riach rightly applauds the Scottish Government for ensuring Scottish literature must in future be taught in Scottish schools.

It is a national disgrace that generations of Scottish children left school ignorant of their own history and culture. But taken all round, the dominant and crucial factor in the minds, if not in the hearts, of the voters in 2014, will be the economics of independence, and that argument must be won if Scotland is to recover her independence.

I fully believe Scots voters will agree Scotland's wealth and natural resources should be used to build a stronger, healthier, more prosperous country, and it is then that Scottish art and literature will rightfully flourish at the heart of our society, inspiring and enriching the nation's soul.

Ruth Marr,

99 Grampian Road,

Stirling.

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