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Nationalists are retreating to comfort zone of constitution

Based on Alex Salmond's musings on a written constitution and Nicola Sturgeon's demand for talks with the UK Government, Magnus Gardham asks "Have the Nationalists stolen a march on 2014 debate?" (The Herald, January 19).

I suggest the answer is no. It's more likely that, having lost the debate on the detail of a post-independence settlement, the Nationalists are trying to change the subject and in the process reverting to their comfort zone of the constitution.

Opinion polls show support for independence falling 20% in 2012. Were the referendum held tomorrow, it would be no contest. From the SNP's point of view, it is better to create a diversion and have ill-defined maunderings on theoretical frameworks, hoping for something to turn up, than be forced to provide hard facts and solid logic about their drive for separation that they clearly do not have.

Alex Gallagher,

12 Phillips Avenue,

Largs.

Ian W Thomson raises the prospect that the SNP will wish to come back time after time with a new referendum in the most likely event of its defeat in 2014, citing the case of the Quebecois "neverendum" as a precedent (Letters, January 19). Unfortunately, this seems all too likely.

There can be little doubt that the independence referendum is an enormous distraction from the issues that really matter – the economy, welfare cuts, insecurity in the developing and Islamic world. We can therefore be fairly certain that by 2014 the Scottish people will be glad it is over and done with.

My suggestion to Johann Lamont is therefore that there is much to gain by including the following commitment in Labour's 2015 manifesto: "Vote Labour and there will be no further referendum."

Peter A Russell,

87 Munro Road,

Glasgow.

While I agree with most of the points made by Iain AD Mann (Letters, January 19), I cannot agree that the right to a home and free education and medical care should be omitted from a Scottish constitution. These are not merely political beliefs, but rather should be considered basic human rights, ensuring the nation's health and wellbeing, and nurturing and protecting the most vulnerable in our society. Freedom of speech, freedom of movement and freedom to hold religious beliefs must be built into the constitution, but freedom from poverty, illness and the narrowing of opportunity which so often is the result of living without a decent house to call home, should also be considered as essential aspirations in the shaping of the modern, democractic Scotland.

Ruth Marr,

99 Grampian Road,

Stirling.

Alex Salmond spoke recently about a number of important matters suitable for enshrining in a written constitution. I would welcome the time when all those exercising the right to a home, all those making use of free education, and all those living in a Trident-free country are regarded as citizens and treated as such, rather than subjects.

How can the ancient Scots principle of sovereignty of the people be implemented and observed when Scots are still regarded as someone's subjects? Government office-holders, parliamentarians, privy councillors, judges, many members of the armed forces and others are required to swear oaths of allegiance to the monarch of the day.

Moreover, the sovereignty of the people should be reflected in our country's national anthem. We must eventually depart from inviting God to save one particular person, in place only by virtue of the application of the hereditary principle, and sing proudly about our nation and country.

Ian W Thomson,

38 Kirkintilloch Road, Lenzie.

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