I SEE no point in a referendum on the constitutional question until the side that wants it, mine, is in a position to win. That is not the case now, and will not be the case until rock-solid support for independence is around 60 per cent. That is the figure given by Michael Gove and Alister Jack as the measure of support for a legal referendum that could not be ignored.

To go from where support for independence is now to where it will need to be requires a number of actions. A comprehensive intellectually-sound document that addresses the main issues of trade and borders, debt and currency, the use and importance of all energy resources, and the geography and geopolitics that places us within the sphere of influence of Nato, especially taking account of the state interests of its United States and UK components, now that Russia is no longer a potential adversary but a proven aggressor. To campaign on that needs a national organisation. There is none at present.

It is more than 300 years since Scots, as a nation, had to consider the importance of spheres of influence and state interests. That we need to learn them is manifest in the letter from Iain Cope (June 16), who states that Nato and nuclear weapons are for us to decide after independence, and not “have these decisions made by someone else”. A small nation in a geopolitical strategic position, crucial to major powers, has to take account of that fact if it seeks to have their acquiescence and not opposition to its effort for independence. Often at past SNP conferences I have seen the enthusiasm created by the call that no man can set the bounds of a nation. It is superb rhetoric, but not true.

In reference to Nicola Sturgeon’s comparators showing that that it is no longer tenable for unionists to insist that we must shelter under the strong economic umbrella of the UK, she is not alone. “Mediocre Britain has resigned itself to a heartbreaking cycle of decline” was the view of a Daily Telegraph main columnist on Tuesday.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh.


ACCORDING to Martin Redfern (Letters, June 16), Nicola Sturgeon “knows she will fail” in her plans to hold (and, more importantly, win) an independence referendum before the end of next year. That is, in Mr Redfern’s interpretation, after a long period of careful thought and preparation she is now embarking on what will be an active campaign, requiring great expense of effort and money and conducted in full publicity, in order to produce, not the ostensibly desired result, but a face-saver for not producing the ostensibly desired result. Seriously, can Mr Redfern think of anybody, in any field of human endeavour at all, who has behaved as irrationally as that? He must think our FM is a certifiable lunatic.

Many independence supporters, including myself, have been critical of the SNP Government for its dilatoriness in arranging for the next independence referendum; and many, again including myself, are less than impressed by the low-key announcement of the plans and the vague and hesitant air surrounding the opening of the campaign. But at least it has begun, and whether or not the Government acts with sufficient decisiveness and determination, Mr Redfern may be assured that the grassroots independence movement will.

The campaign in 2014 did not get us “nowhere”: it got us from less than 30 per cent support for independence to within a shout of success. This time, we will achieve it.

Derrick McClure, Aberdeen.


PETER Dryburgh and Stewart Keir (Letters, June 16) both peddle the nationalist fantasy that the Remaining UK would pay the pensions of Scottish residents if Scotland split from the UK. Their argument is that the UK Government has a commitment to pay pensions to those who have paid their National Insurance over many years.

It is quite reasonable to argue that the UK state (in the shape of all current UK citizens) has such a commitment. But as Scots make up some eight per cent of the current UK, we would inherit some eight per cent of the commitment. So, while Messrs Dryburgh and Keir could argue that the Remaining UK should pay some 92% of Scottish pensions after separation, we in turn would have to pay some eight per cent of the pensions in the Remaining UK. What would be the point of that? And do the Yes camp really want the Remaining UK to set the value of the lion’s share of Scottish pensions?

Mr Keir seems to think that Scotland should walk away from our responsibility for our share of the national debt, so he might well argue that we could also walk away from any pension responsibilities. But if he thinks we would get away with that he must suffer from a degree of unrealistic optimism which mankind has never previously achieved. If Scotland tried to walk away from its share of debts (and even when it failed) I wouldn’t envy the job of the new Scottish Government when it tried to borrow funds on the international financial market.

As Nicola Sturgeon’s dubious promise of a second referendum fuels the excitement of the Leave camp, we are already seeing the rise of ridiculous predictions of the wonderful deals the Remaining UK and others would offer a separate Scotland. With reports that Boris Johnson struggles to get by on his prime ministerial salary, I can’t help but wonder if he has been secretly employed to recycle and adapt his most over-the-top Brexit fantasy predictions (which he has singularly failed to deliver) for use in the Leave campaign.

Alistair Easton, Edinburgh.


FOR once, I agree with GR Weir regarding his comments on an open border between an independent Scotland and England (Letters, June 16). However, there is one important issue he forgets: it requires both countries to be outside the EU.

Given the entire case for independence seems to now be focused around rejoining the EU, this seems unlikely if supporters of independence stay in power after a Yes vote. As a result, prepare for all the problems we have seen with Northern Ireland getting replicated here but with one key difference. The EU and the UK need to make sure the Irish border stays open by law due to the Good Friday Agreement; no similar legal requirement exists for the border between Scotland and England.

John Shanks, Glasgow.


LISTENING to the First Minister unveil her long-awaited but content-free plans for a referendum in 2023, I was reminded of the infamous story of the promoter who during the South Sea Bubble of 1720, lured gullible investors into " an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is".

They were of course defrauded and left much poorer for the experience. We can but hope that the passage of three centuries has improved people's understanding that an absence of detail frequently indicates an absence of substance and a need to pay very close attention to the motivations of the promoter.

Sandy MacAlister, Shiskine, Isle of Arran.

* IF Nicola Sturgeon doesn't give up her obsession with secession, we're all doomed.

Haven't Brexit, Covid, Putin, and spiralling inflation been enough to deal with for the moment?

Irene Conway, Giffnock.


I NOTE an interesting contribution from Professor Ciaran Martin ("What’s really behind launch of Sturgeon’s ‘Indyref2’ push?", The Herald, June 16), but he’s getting way ahead of himself and completely missing the point, in my respectful submission.

Since no Scottish Parliament legislation is yet in place we can only speculate as to what its terms might be but its purpose will not be to “compel the United Kingdom to dissolve itself ”, it will simply be seeking to lay a question before the electorate.

The question for the Supreme Court would be two-fold. First, does the Scotland Act of 1998 give the Scottish Parliament the legislative competence to pass such legislation and, secondly, do the terms of this proposed legislation comply with that competence? Despite the outpourings of politicians and the media – BBC Scotland regularly offends here – there is a respectable body of legal opinion which suggests the Scottish Parliament does indeed have that competence but that is many removes from impacting on the Union itself. The future of the Union will not be affected until Westminster knows the outcome and agrees, if necessary, to respect it.

David Brookens, retired solicitor advocate, Whiting Bay, Arran.

Read more: A hard border is not a given: England would pay a high price