FOR months now we have been embroiled in a series of debates about the process, but not the substance, of achieving independence.

First the Supreme Court case on the legitimacy of Holyrood legislating for a referendum. Then the suggestion that a UK General Election might be used as a de facto referendum, amended to include a Scottish Parliamentary Election. And now the manufactured fight with Westminster over trans rights ("Stephen Flynn tells PM Scotland on ‘a slippery slope to direct rule’", The Herald, January 19).

All of this serves to distract from the underlying question: that the SNP might get its referendum, de facto or otherwise, but what substance would it campaign on in that referendum? Because the SNP's dirty little secret, which all the focus on process seeks to hide is that, after 90 years in existence, it still does not have a thought-out, evidenced case for independence.

There is no economic case for Scottish independence. Every effort to produce one runs against the facts, which show clearly that Scotland benefits from pooling and sharing within the UK to the tune of around £15 billion annually and would be so much poorer after separation. The SNP's 50-page pamphlet published in October, sans facts, sans numbers, sans any supporting logic, merely emphasised the embarrassing paucity of the SNP's economic case.

There is no historical case. Regardless of the wild claims of social media cybernats, Scotland is not a colony. In fact Scots and Scotland have benefited greatly, and continue to do so, from being part of team GB.

There is no cultural case. The lives of city dwellers in Aberdeen or Glasgow are little different from people in Birmingham or Bristol. Rural life in England is much the same as rural life in Scotland or Wales.

There is no legal case. The UK is a unitary state formed with the agreement of all parties in the Act of Union and its legal status has never been challenged.

There is no geographical case. We are 65 million people crammed on to a small island. The very idea of splitting it up into different countries in a world where size and influence matters could serve as a definition of idiocy.

And importantly, there is no democratic case. We had our referendum. The outcome was decisive and should put the question to bed for at least a generation.

Perhaps, instead of continually distracting the faithful with mere process, Nicola Sturgeon should be considering why, after 90 years in existence, her party has dismally failed to create even the semblance of an evidence-led case for independence. Let me give her a clue: there is no such case, it does not exist, it never has.
Alex Gallagher, Largs

Case for non-party pro-Yes candidates

NEIL Mackay is spot on today in believing that the reactions of the UK Conservative and Labour leaderships to the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill have put the SNP firmly in the driving seat on the road to independence ("Gender law is the biggest step towards indy since 2014", The Herald, January 19).

What the SNP must understand and acknowledge is that many passengers on the bus will be there because they like the destination but not necessarily the driver. That is why it is so important to convince Scottish voters that the journey towards independence is open to all of them regardless of birthplace, ethnicity or political allegiance. A crucial step in this direction would be agreement among all parts of the independence movement to unite behind a single non-party pro-independence candidate, standing on a one-issue manifesto, at the next UK General Election.
Willie Maclean, Milngavie

Time to rescue our parliament

IT has been interesting to read the letters over the past couple of days from unionists who are clearly perfectly content that the Westminster Conservative Government, which has no mandate in Scotland, should block a decision democratically taken by the Scottish Parliament which was supported by members from every party in that Parliament. I suspect that whatever the issue would have been, most of these unionists would have praised and supported Alister Jack, as the general tone of their letters suggests that they happily believe that Scotland should know its place as a region with a regional parliament which should be under Westminster's thumb.

I hope that this has been a wake-up call to all MSPs of whatever party affiliation, but especially to Labour in Scotland, who must be in no doubt now that their real leader is the one in London who has comprehensively failed them on this matter; is this the shape of things to come?

Now is the time for every good man and woman to come to the aid of the parliament. At this time, on this issue, Scotland's MSPs of every political persuasion should stand with the First Minister, stand with their parliament and stand up for Scotland's democracy.
Ruth Marr, Stirling

• IS this the first time that Alister Jack has surfaced from under the woodwork?
Steve Barnet, Gargunnock

Scotland's looking silly now

OUR First Minister's credibility is rapidly ebbing away. There have been endless changes in major policies like declaring independence referenda about to happen almost every year or making every election solely about independence and then backtracking. Now Scots are being exposed to an expensive court action over ill-thought-out gender reforms just after a similar Supreme Court venture ended in ignominy. The experts appear to be lining up against Nicola Sturgeon's opinion yet again on this new issue and this is all costing taxpayers money at a time when this is really needed for more urgent usage.

Scotland is rapidly looking silly on the international stage and just what does the European Union make of a country that seeks to take legal action with every perceived slight? Is this a suitable country for membership? Ms Sturgeon is not doing herself or her cause any favours.
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Other issues are more important

NEIL Mackay ("How can the SNP win indy if it doesn't know what it means?", The Herald, January 17) asserts that it is "no fun to live in a country where we effectively talk of nothing but independence …..".

That was followed up by Jim Sillars's letter headed "I won't apologise for believing independence is not No 1 priority" in which he suggested that "there are other priorities in the day-to-day life of the nation that call for immediate attention, analysis and action".

I believe that these two claims (subversive in the eyes of some) could have been aimed at those contributors to your Letters Pages who are obsessed by independence. They fail to recognise that there are other issues of considerably more concern to the electorate.

For instance, the Scottish Political Monitor December 2022 showed that the top issue is healthcare/NHS/hospitals (41 per cent), followed by inflation/rising cost of living (28%) and education (23%) with Scottish independence/devolution at 23%. I acknowledge that the survey is a "snapshot" of the country in the midst of a number of crises but these are not short-term issues and will still be important at the time of the next General Election and even the next Holyrood election.
John Milne, Uddingston

Raising pension age is an outrage

THE rising pension age in the UK is an issue for thousands, but the Government has had a relatively easy ride on it over a number of years. The exception to this were the Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) women, who have been disproportionately disadvantaged due to the equalisation of the state pension age for men and women. They even took their case to the courts.

The current retirement age in the UK is 66 and is due to rise to 67 by 2028. But it doesn’t stop there; by 2046 retirement will be 68 and this is currently being reviewed and could be brought forward to 2039. Compare this to the current situation in France, where there are protests in the streets at Emmanuel Macron's plan to increase the state pension age to 64 (it is currently 62).

The severe winters in Scotland beg the question: how can the Government expect those who daily keep the infrastructure of our country ticking over, out working in harsh and cold conditions, be expected to work until they are 68? It is an outrage and will surely add to the pressures on our health services and ultimately our care sector, which are struggling as it is.

The state pension age must be taken into consideration in any future review of our NHS and care sector.
Catriona C Clark, Falkirk

Read more letters: UK must solve the problem by changing its own Equality Act


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