IT has been clear since the outcome of the 2014 independence referendum that the SNP would neither abide by its outcome nor respect its own stated position that it was a once in a generation event.

We therefore now seem to be heading for a rerun. As we do so, we must learn the lessons of earlier referendums.

Echoing Alex Salmond’s “the dream will never die” after a 45-55 result, his Brexit counterpart Nigel Farage said on the night of the vote: "If it is 48-52 Remain, this would be unfinished business by a long way.” Subsequent events show that a narrow victory for either side just produces deeper divisions. If 55 per cent is too low for the nationalists, the first lesson we learn is that we will need a two-thirds Yes vote for independence to succeed with the full acceptance of the population – Yes and No.

The second lesson is that whatever is promised by politicians in any referendum campaign is not what will be delivered in any final deal. In the case of the 2014 indyref, for example, the Yes campaign promised us a currency union with rUK and automatic EU membership. Neither of these was deliverable unilaterally, or probably at all. The final terms of leaving the UK would have been as different to those of the White Paper as the pledges of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson were to the final Brexit terms.

The same will apply in indyref2 – for example, the issues of currency, share of debt, EU membership, borders and customs and arrangements will not be in the gift of the Scottish Government. There is therefore a cast-iron case to offer voters a confirmatory vote when the outcome of new independence negotiations are concluded. My recollection is that Nicola Sturgeon campaigned vigorously for such an arrangement regarding Brexit. She should be promising the same – and safeguards against a catastrophic victory for the minority – right now.

What is she scared of?

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


AS a unionist I find myself agreeing with Mark Eadie's view that an independence vote must go ahead ("I’d rather not have Indyref2, but it has to happen", The Herald, May 11). The thought of another five years of listening to the whingeing and whining of the SNP while the day job gets ignored will do Scotland nothing but further harm.

I believe we have reached the point where the boil that is the constitution issue must be lanced, and the sooner the better.

I've never been fully convinced that Nicola Sturgeon actually wants another referendum. She is reliant on unionist resistance to having one and while that situation remains so does her power base. She knows that to lose would be the end of the matter and probably the SNP.

I now believe there is a growing number of unionists who take a similar view to my own as we cannot go on as we are now.

There are so many unanswered issues that the SNP hierarchy chooses to sidestep, however these would have to be debated once the gun is fired for a referendum.

Here are just a few: currency, fiscal matters, jobs, borders, tax, not forgetting the cost of separation. They were quick to tell us the number of job losses for Brexit, but I've never heard them say what the figure would be for leaving the UK. No point in scaring the horses.

I think when the Scottish electorate learn what awaits them they will not choose austerity on stilts that will last years. The zealots will not care but the majority will.

Roy B Hudson, Bearsden.


THOSE with long memories and an internationalist outlook may be feeling a sense of what's called deja vu in Quebec. The Quebecois community organised two referenda: the first in 1980, which led to a 60/40 majority against independence for Quebec. The second referendum in 1995 was extremely close, less than a percentage point separating the two camps. Can we learn from their precedent? Both Quebec and Scotland claimed high-profile sympathisers for independence: de Gaulle for Quebec, and Sean Connery for Scotland.

Returning to Scotland's own independence referendum in 2014: as I recall, polls showed a majority in favour of devo max: that meant increased powers for the Holyrood parliament. Gordon Brown was called into action, giving a rousing speech promising additional powers for Holyrood within the current Union. We all know what ensued: David Cameron weaselled out of any such pledge, offering English votes for English laws instead. Then came Brexit – another Cameron fiasco, and fresh cause for Scottish discontent.

As we have observed, Brexit has been an untidy business, especially in Northern Ireland. Last week's poll results indicate a Tory "border wall" of EU Remainers and Leavers either side of Berwick. If an EU Customs border for goods were relocated to the A1 and M74 in place of the Irish Sea, that would allow Scots to enjoy both EU and UK benefits – having our cake and eating it.

There is no legal requirement for a referendum poll to be binary and divisive: why not offer a third, devo max option? Scotland's return to the EU customs union, with reinstatement of ferry links from Rosyth to Belgium or the Netherlands, would benefit trade.

Graeme Orr, Neilston.


THE man who gave us the vow in 2014 (more power will be devolved to Holyrood, all four nations of the UK will be equal, sharing resources equitably across all four nations), the man who broke the Vow, can he be trusted? Of course I speak of Gordon Brown, now calling for a four nations approach to saving the Union ("Brown: I’m not afraid of Indyref2, I’m giving Middle Scotland a voice", The Herald, May 11). Did he miss something? Surely he did not miss the Holyrood election results, where a clear message came forth?

Mr Brown and other unionists take note, the people of Scotland have spoken and will no longer be pulled into your web of deceit. The majority from those elected to serve were elected on manifestos clearly backing indyref2 and the time will come for that manifesto pledge to be delivered; meantime it is the global pandemic that must take priority, as the First Minister has said all along. My advice to Mr Brown: divert your energy to saving the Labour Party from oblivion here in Scotland, because your new venture in saving the Union is a lost cause.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.


I NOTE a fascinating letter by David Webster (May 11) suggesting the Greens should park independence as it's blanking out their other policies. My recollection is that independence didn't feature much at all with the Greens until 2016 when overnight they found themselves in the position of kingmakers, able to prop up the minority SNP Government in exchange for their demands being met. Possibly a small gain for the environment, but for sure a big loss to democracy.

Scott Macintosh, Killearn.

* MARK Smith ("Nicola Sturgeon has won but now we need some changes", The Herald, May 10) is entirely correct. As one of the 50.4 per cent who didn’t back the SNP or Greens I am definitely not chuffed by the talk of “the will of the people". On a 63% turnout the percentage of the total electorate who voted for the SNP (presumably in favour of independence) is more like 30%. Nicola Sturgeon should perhaps rephrase her comments to “the will of some of the people of Scotland”.

Alan Shepherd, Forfar.

* I NOTE that the unionist parties are playing the system in the same way as Alba. Instead of standing as one unionist bloc, they have split themselves into three, thereby gaining more list seats. #gamingthesystem!

Ken MacVicar, Lesmahagow.


THE State Opening of Parliament was naturally a somewhat scaled-down event, but although smartly dressed in her coat and hat, Her Majesty must have felt like a poor relation next to the gorgeously-clothed Lords in their scarlet and ermine. Of course, all 800 Lords and Ladies could not be there, but there was enough of them on show to remind us that the House of Lords is the only upper house of any bicameral parliament in the world to be larger than its lower house, and that not one of those peers has been elected by anyone.

I note that in the Queen's Speech there was a pledge to support democracy around the world; given the result of last week's Scottish Parliament elections, it is to be hoped that the man who wrote the speech will bear in mind that democracy should begin at home.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

Read more: If you don't want indie, why not be brave enough to hold a vote against it?