IT is a phenomenon of the constitutional debate that many people who are united in seeking the best for Scotland have bitter enmity towards each other as to how that end may best be achieved. Perhaps people perceive the same things differently due to different personal experiences. Despite being a lifelong Scottish nationalist, I deplore the current aspiration for political separation even although its proponents include friends and family members whom I otherwise hold in affection and high regard.

My perspective goes back to the 1960s when Scotland maintained a distinct and independent legal jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. When the UK required to provide a judge for the European Court, it was a Scottish judge, Lord Mackenzie Stuart, who was selected and was later made President of the European Court. At about the same time, a Scottish judge, Lord Mackay, was appointed as Lord Chancellor, then the senior most judicial office in the UK and it was clearly established and practised that the writ of the English court did not run in Scotland. Legal services in Scotland were delivered by solicitors and advocates who had been educated and trained in Scots law and whose businesses were located almost exclusively within the Scottish jurisdiction. The former scandal of delay in the making of Scottish legislation had been overtaken, and the convention was established that Scottish judges should preside at Scottish appeals in the House of Lords (now the Supreme Court).

The Scottish star was rising in the UK when disaster struck and a new political institution was created which was called a parliament but which was not in any way a parliament either in the sense of the Westminster Parliament or of the former Scottish parliament. Now, following legislation created in that parliament, almost all of the former large and middle-sized Scottish firms have been taken over by foreign, mainly English, firms and many, probably a majority, of Scottish high street solicitors are now engaged by non-Scottish, mainly English, entities. Many and probably a majority of contracts entered in Scotland are subject to English law and English jurisdiction, so that the English legal writ now runs wild in Scotland, greatly reducing the potential for any future development of Scots law.

Further Scottish legislation aims to abolish the Law Society of Scotland, remove the Lord President of the Court of Session from the head of the regulation of Scottish legal practitioners and to validate the acquisition of Scots law firms not merely by foreign legal firms but by any foreign commercial enterprise which would like to control its own slice of the legal system of Scotland.

From my own perspective, therefore, the separatist movement has been utterly destructive of one of the great pillars of the Scottish nation.

Michael Sheridan, Glasgow.


IN pouring scorn on Andy Stenton’s comment that Anas Sarwar and the Labour Party in Scotland (as far as I’m aware there is still no registered “Scottish Labour Party”) should embrace the concept of Scottish independence, Peter A Russell (Letters, April 29) reveals, through his pejorative words, his personal lack of objectivity. Such an apparently closed mindset is echoed in the cynical and hypocritical actions of Labour peer Lord Foulkes, who is now attempting to have the already restricted powers of the Scottish Parliament further limited to prevent the elected Government of Scotland from advancing the social democratic principles of Home Rule advocated by Keir Hardie and on which the Labour Party was founded.

Tony Blair must be proud that in Mr Sarwar he now has a disciple in Scotland who preaches the same shallow rhetoric mastered by Mr Blair and which was artfully employed to deceive supporters that New Labour policies reflected those principles. It is a tragedy that Mr Sarwar and Mr Russell have such little respect for democracy, or in progressing genuine socialism, that they would even seek to deny the people of Scotland another referendum on independence, especially since it is clear that most people in this country would rather be citizens of the European Union than tied to an increasingly insular Ukip-led England.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.


THE STV voting system we use for local elections in Scotland does deliver proportional representation, contrary to the incorrect statement made by Sandy Gemmill (Letters, April 26). The result, in terms of which candidates are elected, is proportional to the wishes of the voters as expressed by their preferences for the candidates who aares standing for election.

Each voter has only one vote, but each voter can mark preferences for as many or as few candidates as that voter wishes. With STV-PR the voter’s one vote is transferable, on a contingency basis, in accordance with any preferences the voter has marked beyond “1”. Thus if the first preference is for a candidate who is not at all popular with the other voters in that ward, and so has few first preferences and is, in consequence, excluded at an early stage of the count, the vote will be transferred to the voter’s second preference, the candidate marked “2”. And so on.

Your vote may also be transferred (but only in accordance with your preferences) if you vote “1” for an extremely popular candidate, whose support is so large that it shows no one candidate could “proportionately” represent such a large number of voters. That candidate has more votes (sometimes, far more votes) than needed to secure election. To secure fair representation for those voters, the surplus votes of the elected candidate are transferred to other not-yet-elected candidates in accordance with next preferences on those ballot papers.

One myth that needs to be destroyed is that by voting only “1” for your most favoured candidate and leaving the rest blank, you are helping to secure the election of that candidate. There is a “party” variation of this in which political parties instruct their supporters to vote only for the party’s candidate (“1”) or candidates (“1”, “2” or “1”, “2”, “3”) and leave the rest blank. That is nonsense. Leaving the rest blank can in no way increase the chances of the favoured candidate(s) being elected.

What leaving blank all the preferences after “1” does, is deny the voter the opportunity of helping to decide who will (or will not) sit alongside their most favoured candidate or party. It can be politically very difficult for a political party to give guidance to its supporters about how “best” to mark their preferences after their preference(s) for the party’s candidate(s). But that doesn’t change the fact that it is in the voters’ best interests to mark as many preferences as they really have.

James Gilmour, Edinburgh.


THE forthcoming local elections have implications for us all, because they impact on so many aspects of our daily lives. Local services which we all depend on like refuse collection, education, care services, our public roads and much more are run by our councils.

Historically local elections command a poor turnout, but voters have a massive responsibility and can change the make-up of our local authorities by just not turning up to vote. Our councillors are at the forefront of our political system in as much as they are dealing with doorstep issues that are so important to our daily lives.

Elected councillors have a responsibility to serve their communities, however voters also have a responsibility on Thursday. I trust people will take that responsibility seriously and use their vote.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.


NOW that Channel 4 is to be privatised, and the BBC licence fee is up for re-assessment, is it not time for Scotland to have an adult conversation about broadcasting in our country?

It isn’t just that our national football team is to be broadcast on a platform no one has ("Viaplay anger revives issue of free-to-air Scotland games", The Herald, April 29), but the whole cultural aspect of radio and television.

We pay a substantial fee to watch television in Scotland but there is a very poor return for that. News, current affairs, sport, drama, history and everything else is overwhelmingly focused on England. For the BBC, Scottish history doesn’t exist, either drama or documentary. BBC Scotland and Radio Scotland (highly regarded when launched) are to my mind simply dreadful; shallow and superficial, with a constant reference to London-centric events: a journalistic void where “news management” rules supreme.

What share of the total BBC budget is spent in Scotland? Why are patently English programmes made with the already limited Scottish budget? There is a political dimension to this: when the respected Sir Robert Buckland states that support for Ukraine is down to the “principle of self-determination”, there is an obvious correlation to Scotland’s situation: a correlation always ignored by BBC presenters.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.