KEVIN McKenna wrote a typically astute article on the dilemmas facing many Yes-inclined voters ("Yes voters like me have a big problem voting for the SNP", The Herald, July 2), but his casual remark on the SNP’s "recent Nato fetishism" cannot pass without discussion. This odd statement conceals his own refusal to rethink policy in response to a changing international situation and to change his mind when the facts change, as Keynes supposedly advocated.

All over Europe nations are rethinking their defence policies when faced by a newly-aggressive Russia. The decision of Sweden and Finland to join Nato is the most obvious example, but Switzerland and Germany have reconsidered their long-established position over re-arming, the Baltic Republics have stepped up their defence expenditure while, of greater relevance for any independent Scotland, Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, made a speech recently saying that the Republic could no longer continue with a policy in which its defence was de facto entrusted to the RAF and Royal Navy.

Is Scotland to be the only country in which such rethinking is not taking place, where we continue to repeat yesterday’s shibboleths? It is surely time to halt the easy debate on the intricacies of entitlement to hold a referendum and get down to the harder task of debating policy, including defence policy. Words like "fetishism" are not a useful contribution to such a debate, and in fact leave the country repeating to itself the slogans in vogue some 40 years in the heyday of the Ban the Bomb movement. The fact is that politics is not a sub-division of ethics, but involves questions of power, its use and its misuse, as is being demonstrated today in Ukraine. Policies based on ethical purity alone are fine for Vatican City alone.

Scotland, however repellent it may be to purists, will need to think of its defence, particularly since it has a strategic position of some importance in the Atlantic. And because, and here is the nasty bit, it has a base for nuclear submarines. The SNP is in the bizarre position of wishing to join a nuclear force, which is Nato, but somehow pursue a non-nuclear policy. At the very least, the base on the Clyde would be an invaluable negotiating chip in any future, post-independence deal with England. Independence supporters may not wish to discuss this fact, but they can be sure that their opponents will, and they will be pleased to see it dismissed as fetishism.

Joseph Farrell, Glasgow.


HOW ungrateful of Patrick Harvie to threaten to rain on Nicola Sturgeon’s parade ("Harvie: Green votes at election will be Yes for independence", The Herald, July 4). Coming from the Greens, however, it will be only a very light shower. The party that managed to win one per cent of the vote is not exactly in contention at a General Election, including one that Ms Sturgeon wishes to designate a proxy referendum. The Greens fare better at Holyrood because of the list system. In 2021, their few thousand votes won them eight seats and, subsequently, two ministerial posts at Holyrood.

It will be interesting to see whether Ms Sturgeon manages to persuade Mr Harvie not to split the separatist vote. After all, she needs every one per cent she can get.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

• HOW can the Greens in Scotland possibly say that the next General Election should be fought, with their approval, on the SNP proposal that it is a de facto referendum on whether the UK should be broken up? It is a preposterous supposition from the SNP to begin with and already being ridiculed, but to be backed by a party seemingly formed to further environment issues, it is farcical.

I suspect the leaders of the Green movement in Scotland have become rather too fond of the ministerial cars and the movie star salaries and expenses.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


THE proposal to legally oblige Scotland's two parliaments to co-operate really should not be needed, but due to the permanently narky mood of the SNP, it is sadly necessary. However, there is further simple step that can be taken to cut the Gordian Knot in question. This would be to amend the 2016 Scotland Act, in particular that part which sets out those issues which require the support of two-thirds of MSPs.

These relate to the representation of the people, that is, the franchise and electoral arrangements for Holyrood. This section could easily be amended to include the action of handing decision-making in its entirety to the people – that is, the holding of all referendums, including a referendum on independence like that held in 2014. For example, in the current Parliament, the 84 votes required could be achieved by the combined votes of the SNP and Scottish Labour: if the latter were to enter talks on such a vote, it might insist on a high threshold for a Yes result, or a third option of devo max, or say "sorry, there's still a pandemic, but maybe later".

Other referendums –for example on assisted dying or drugs legalisation – would also benefit from a requirement for broad support. However, the essence of the amendment would be that popular democracy would be in Scotland's hands but not in those of a narrow single interest.

I commend the amendment to your readers and await the hand of friendship and compromise on all sides. But I'm not holding my breath.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


I AGREE completely with Richard Gordon (Letters, July 2) that the 2014 result should have been respected. Unfortunately, he blames the wrong side for not respecting it.

Those of us who voted Yes were devastated to lose, but accepted that, with the consolation that we would now enjoy all the benefits detailed in the Vow agreed by all the party leaders on the winning side. Our representatives in the subsequent negotiations soon found out how wrong we were.

1. Voting No did NOT guarantee our continued membership of the EU, the prime importance of which to Scotland was validated by the later 24 per cent win for Remain.

2. Holyrood and its powers have not been enshrined in law in perpetuity, nor the Sewel convention made law.

3. By contrast, the present Westminster Government has already taken control of parts of Holyrood’s competence, and ignored the Sewel convention several times. Even one law passed unanimously, within devolved powers, has been overturned.

4. The order for 13 frigates is yet to be fulfilled, with no sign of that eight years on.

The list goes on. So Mr Gordon should perhaps look at the facts to see who did not respect the decision of 2014. Moreover, about two years after the referendum, I seem to remember a study by an English university which proved that the topic of the referendum result was first brought into interviews and discussions by the unionist side approximately 80 per cent of the times it was spoken about.

L McGregor, Falkirk.

• RICHARD Gordon writes: "The common people did make a decision in 2014 – end of story. Respect it." In the 2016 EU referendum the common people of Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain – end of story. Was that decision respected?

Jim Morrow, Glasgow.


IN response to Michael Sheridan (Letters, July 4), my limited amount of Scottish history at school mentioned how the Darien Scheme ruined Scotland and led to the Treaty of Union.

However, we were not told that at the time the Scottish government had no debt but the English national debt was £18 million and Article 15 of the Treaty of Union granted £398,085 and 10 shillings sterling to Scotland, a sum known as The Equivalent, to offset future liability towards the English national debt, but as Scotland had no national debt, most of the sum was used to compensate the investors in the Darien Scheme, many of whom were in the Scottish Parliament and were then persuaded to support the Union.

Also, we were not informed about the English Alien Act of 1705 that hastened the Union, as it threatened that all Scottish estates held in England by non-residents were to be considered as alien property in law unless the Scottish Parliament had entered into treaty negotiations by Christmas Day 1705. In addition, an embargo was to be placed on major Scottish products being imported into England. This was at a time when it is estimated that almost 50 per cent of Scottish exports, mainly linen and black cattle, were destined for English markets.

Hardly a voluntary union that was opposed by all the churches and burghs in Scotland.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.

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