Peter A Russell demonstrated rather neatly the insularity and parochialism of Better Together thinking in the conclusions reached and the examples he gave, namely that Scots intellectuals and scientist thrive and prosper due to the "larger community of nations and regions which comprise the UK" (Letters, March 25).

David Hume wrote a History of England. Is Mr Russell suggesting Hume couldn't have written it unless Scotland was subsumed in the UK?

A cursory look at the output of eminent historians may surprise him – they seem to have never thought political union was necessary to become expert in the history of nations other than their own and write about it. Take for example David Blackbourn, an eminent Englishman, born in Lincolnshire in 1949, educated at Cambridge, now domiciled in the US and an expert and author on German history, who clearly didn't feel constrained by national boundaries.

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Adam Smith is on record as saying he found the atmosphere at Oxford stifling and the teaching grossly inferior to the University of Glasgow. His time at Oxford almost brought about a nervous breakdown, and he couldn't wait to break free of its intellectually oppressive climate.

However, many other famous Scots have indeed studied at the great English universities and found them congenial and productive, as they did before the Union and will doubtless do so if the Union ends. Like all eminent men and women, they belong to the world and have not found the great universities and academic institutions of that world outside of Scotland – the Sorbonne, Milan, Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, MIT, and so on – closed to them because of the lack of a political union. Science, literature and the arts are international and not bounded by narrow nationalistic and imperialist assumptions.

Scotland rightly celebrates its great men and women – the philosophers, scientists, engineers, artists, historians and musicians who gave, and continue to give, freely to the world the fruits of their intellect, research and creativity.

It is the conviction of those of us who take pride in those achievements that an independent Scotland – independent yet recognising its interdependence in the European and global community and truly internationalist in spirit – will experience a great new surge in the creativity and innovation that has characterised its proud history.

Peter Curran,

1B Main Street,


West Lothian.

There is too simplistic a point in listing where some great Scots studied and worked while at the same time trying to make a point for being Better Together (Letters, March 25).

I have walked in the footsteps of Alexander Fleming in the hills around Darvel and have also looked at the wondrous views he enjoyed as a boy.

And I have trod the same steps as the great Lord Kelvin, remembering he was born in Belfast as William Thomson.

My education did not allow me to visit the Sorbonne, either as a visitor or as a student, so I missed the experience of being in the same room once occupied by Maria Sklodowska.

She became Marie and, after her marriage, Curie in France. She did all her groundbreaking research in Paris and decided to name her and husband Pierre's new element polonium in recognition of her country of birth, Poland, much to the chagrin of Russia, the effective rulers of Poland at the time.

This act of naming was most apt since her family, both maternal and paternal, had lost all in their involvements in moves to re-establish the independence of Poland.

Dr Andrew R M Craik,

73 Burns Park, East Kilbride.

As one of the undecided in the independence debate I was somewhat confused by the contribution of Peter A Russell.

Mr Russell is indeed correct in his descriptions of Scottish intellectuals such as Smith, Scott and Clerk Maxwell and the inspirations for and locations of their work. My confusion is that in the event of a Yes vote for independence, what is there to prevent current and future Scottish intellectuals from developing pan-British Isles or international publishing themes and Scottish academics from undertaking work in English universities?

Is there a suggestion a Yes vote for independence would somehow prevent that from occurring?

If so, that would indeed be a most curious consequence of independence and one that we should be told more about.

Brendan Ferguson,

Summerfield Cottages,