I AM surprised that you chose to highlight an interview with Herman Van Rompuy which is clearly about the importance of the European Union and not about Scotland "(Independence row as EU chief backs union, The Herald, November 5).
As I have pointed out before in your columns, the man who drafted the European Constitution, the former head of the Foreign Office Lord John Kerr, said it would take about 24 hours to sort out Scotland's membership of the EU.
The real danger facing Scotland is that an increasingly Eurosceptic Tory party in Westminster is heading towards the exit doorway of the European Union and Scotland, unless independent, will be kicked out with it. UKIP is predicted to win the most seats in the European Parliament elections in 2014 in England while in Scotland it will be irrelevant. The Tory Party is preparing to promise a referendum on membership of the EU and Labour may well go along with this for electoral advantage. With a rabidly anti-EU English press owned by foreign owners it is quite likely that there will be an exit vote. So the real threat of separatism to Scotland is being dragged outside the EU by an increasingly reactionary political situation in England. Scotland has historically had close links to Europe and an independent Scotland would be better represented fully inside the EU rather than being misrepresented by a bunch of Eurosceptic Tories or not represented at all.
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Hugh Kerr (MEP 1994-99),
23 Braehead Avenue,
HERMAN Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, should know better than to express his personal views on the internal affairs of a member state of the European Union. Whether Scotland becomes independent from the United Kingdom is nothing to do with him, and his indiscreet comments are a serious misuse of his exalted position.
It is equally astonishing that he should share these personal views on a public website, YouTube, with an anonymous member of the British public who apparently believes the nationalist movement is "evil work to end the United Kingdom". .
Of course, it must be remembered that Mr Van Rompuy, almost invisible since his election, was previously the prime minister of Belgium, a country itself troubled with internal nationalist movements and in some danger of dividing into separate states. No doubt his comments on Scotland's independence are coloured by his attitude to his own country's problems, as are those of the Spanish Foreign Minister, and both are totally irrelevant.
As Alan Weir points out (Letters, November 5), it is complete nonsense to suggest that the European Union would vindictively strip five million Scots of their European citizenship against their will. If Scotland votes Yes in 2014, it is certain Europe will find a political way to interpret its own labyrinthine rules to admit us as a successor state quickly as possible. Whether the rest of the UK will be heading in a different direction after the 2015 General Election is a different and interesting question.
Iain A D Mann.
7 Kelvin Court,
TO my surprise, an acquaintance, who evinced admiration for Margaret Thatcher and her reforms, and disgust for welfare dependency and idleness, trade union leaders and labourism in general, intends to vote for independence. Despite being self-employed and with every reason to be concerned, he was perfectly well aware that the values and policies of socialism would dominate an independent Scotland for many years until the money ran out. Nothing I could say would dissuade him. "We should govern ourselves," he maintained.
Another university-educated member of the lefty west end bourgeoisie frets for Scotland's "culture and emotional soul" in the absence of independence. As an LSE and Glasgow-educated economist and geographer, I am exasperated by such reactions. It is true that man cannot live by bread alone, but producing it and sharing it determines the essential quantity and quality of human existence.
Precisely who are the "we" that should govern ourselves? What is the great internal unity that distinguishes "us" from the English, Welsh and Northern Irish? Racially, the great majority of Brits are all the same hotchpotch of Celt, Anglo-Saxon and Norman-French. In terms of socio-economic class, the boundaries do not run from Carlisle to Berwick but between us all.
In terms of social relations, family and friends, wherever they are, rightly and necessarily mean far more to us than a wider Scottish society whom we do not know. Apart from a few in west Wales and the Hebrides, we all speak the same language. We share the same legal and democratic rights, private and civic institutions and cultural experience, the greater part of which derive from more than 300 years of union. Sixty-two million of us live in close proximity on the same island.
To pose these questions and points merely confirms to me that nationalism has been, is, and always will be nothing more than an emotional spasm. It has no creed for societal organisation in the modern world. It has nothing to contribute to the debates about individual liberty, private ownership of property, capitalism, markets and the role of the state. It is bereft of useful meaning. This was well illustrated in last week's febrile correspondence regarding an independent Scotland's relationship with the EU (Letters, October 30 & 31, November 1 & 2). In or out of the EU, in or out of the euro, in or out of sterling, the essential conclusion to this debate is that independence is no guide to the future. Adding nothing to our lives, it is a dead end.
14, Ancaster Drive,
JOHN Hannah suggests that the point of the current EU membership debate is that an independent Scotland would then be empowered to decide if it wished to remain within the EU or leave it (Letters, November 5). He suggests that in this situation Scotland would not be " dragged in or out on the coat-tails of a UK Parliament".
I considered the issue of the current debate had become whether an independent Scotland would be hanging on to the coat-tails of the European Parliament. As we have a similar population to Denmark it is likely we would, under the Treaty of Nice, similarly have only around 13 seats in the European Parliament and only seven votes in the European Council. Hardly influential.
The 2014 referendum seems to be developing into a compound vote. The one overt aspect of the vote is relatively clear on independence per se. The other implicit aspect of the vote – on the consequences regarding EU membership – now appears to be presented as details the public should not worry about, as a vote for the SNP will be a vote of blind trust anyway. For some other pro-independence voters with clear views on the EU I imagine it could be turkeys voting for Christmas.
There also seems an assumption that leaving the EU would be smooth and easy for anyone. I predict that if Euroscepticism took over the SNP in an independent Scotland it would be just as much a messy divorce as leaving the UK. As far as I gather there has been no properly calculated indicators of whether an independent Scotland would be either financially penalised or due a rebate on leaving the EU voluntarily or indeed de facto through separation from the parent UK member state.
46 Breadie Drive,