I DON’T think I’ll be contradicted when I opine that the narrative on devolution has, since 2010, been largely driven by the SNP. In fact, for those of us who do not support independence, at times over the last decade, it has seemed that HMG has been happily turning a blind eye to Scotland, and letting the SNP have the field to itself.

I was, therefore, glad to see Prime Minister Johnson, a man I am normally politically opposed to, state unequivocally to the First Minister that a second referendum on independence would not be forthcoming. For those of us who oppose independence, this lack of equivocation was encouraging.

For secessionists, 2021 is going to be a crucial year. If they do win a landslide at the Scottish elections, they will claim this as a mandate for indyref2. Therefore, the battleground over the next year, or so, is for those voters who lent their vote to the SNP at the General Election, and to those waverers, who are undecided on seceding from the UK.

Now, it goes against the grain for me to offer a Tory Prime Minister advice. But, given that we’re stuck with him for the next five years, I’ll offer him this advice: through adopting a more interventionist approach, the PM should seek every opportunity to promote the Union in Scotland, be it via additional funding, or through advice, counsel, private criticism and yes, public encouragement, on those occasions SNP initiatives go well.

And, he should ensure HMG is visible in Scotland too. He shouldn’t rely on local Tory Party members speaking on Government issues, which clearly transcend party lines. Being visible and travelling to promote it, will assist in countering the endless negative narratives about the Union, peddled by the SNP.

If Mr Johnson is as off the wall as he seems to be, perhaps he and his Cabinet will, in the run-up to the 2021 poll, try grasping the thistle, to visibly nurture the positive benefits of the Union, and thereby, bolster support for it. After all, if it does come to a second referendum, the task will not be changing the minds of those who in 2014 voted for or against independence; the task will be capturing the support of the undecided voter.


Stuart Brennan, Glasgow, G44.

I AM genuinely in awe of Councillor Tom Johnston’s determination to find a legal justification for a second referendum, and his originality in the use of the Belfast Agreement (Letters, January 16). However, I fear he “doesn’t get it”. For the fact is that while the Westminster Government parrot “Well Alex Salmond said 'once in a generation', and so did Nicola Sturgeon”, this conceals the real reply, “you’re not getting a referendum, so there.”

Gary Robertson in the course of an interview with Douglas Ross MP (January 15) pointed out that a phrase such as “once in a generation” is no more than a “rhetorical flourish”, not be taken literally. Our Prime Minister seems to have carefully forgotten his own “rhetorical flourish” to “die in a ditch” if the UK was not out of the EU by October 31 last year.

The same Boris Johnson also claimed during the campaign that the election just past was a “critical, ‘once-in-a-generation’ election”, even though the next General Election will be, at most, in another five years. Is five years the Prime Minister’s definition of “a generation”, but not in Scotland?

Let’s be clear, all the fine words and the sophistry surrounding the meaning of “generation” are merely to deflect from the fact that Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon’s were no less hyperbole than “die in a ditch”. Moreover, as Mr Robertson in the same interview pointed out to Mr Ross, “things change”, and indeed they do.

For instance, Adam Tomkins tweeted on September 22, 2014, “Can there be another indy referendum any time soon? Unless the constitutional facts change (eg UK withdrawal from EU), No.”

Or let’s take the Smith Commission, which says in paragraph 18 of its report “It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose.” Nothing about generations, only if “the people of Scotland so choose”.

Recent quotes from the Government suggest that even if the SNP wins a majority at a future election, it will not grant a referendum. Democracy and consistency are therefore the victims of the present Government’s intransigence, obstructing the Scottish electorate from expressing their view on independence. As the First Minister said yesterday, we can disagree on whether Scotland should be independent, but when the Scottish electorate has elected a government, and not for the first time, committed to an independence referendum, for Westminster to refuse this, as it has, is a fundamental violation of democracy, as the above quoted know perfectly well, irrespective of what they might be saying now.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

IAN Blackford frequently addresses the House of Commons chamber with the opening remark: "The people of Scotland" and so on.

At the General Election last December, the SNP garnered the support of 30 per cent of the number of persons registered to vote in the Scottish constituencies. Would you please remind Mr Blackford that he should edit his future opening addresses in the House to reflect this fact with "Some of the people of Scotland".

Archie Burleigh, Skelmorlie.

Read more: Legal advice suggests Holyrood could legislate for second referendum without PM's consent