TWO correspondents today (Letters, February 2) make assertions that need to be challenged in their increasingly desperate attempts to convince voters that remaining in the UK is a good idea.

Peter A Russell writes that "another lesson of Brexit is of course that to leave a political, economic and social union entails massive costs and unnecessary economic disruption". I contend that remaining within the UK entails massive economic cost, unnecessary economic disruption, and continuing social and economic decline to boot. I would also say to Mr Russell that corrupting one of the fundamental laws of democracy to ensure that one side cannot win is a sign of desperation, not confidence.

Robert Murray writes: "Most commentators expect there to be very many economically difficult years ahead for Scotland post-independence". I would ask Mr Murray to read the newspapers, turn on his television, listen to his radio, look out of his window, or even walk down the street and then tell us what level of economic difficulty he perceives our resource-rich (in every way) little country is experiencing right now pre-independence.
John Jamieson, Ayr

Yes must shift public opinion

ROBERT Murray is being disingenuous or is simply ignorant of the fact that the turnout at the 2014 referendum was 84.6 per cent, which is considerably higher than his speculative figure for a repeat event. Presumably the majority of those who didn't vote didn't care. It is widely accepted that the campaign engaged people across Scotland far more than any local or general election and, more than likely, the next will whenever it comes.

Of course, it would be far preferable, as others have noted, to have a sizeable majority in favour of such a significant change to our constitution. But it is equally obvious that those opposed to Scottish independence are seeking to change long-established rules to reduce their risk of losing. This suggests to me that they have already lost the argument.

Even so, as politics stands, the UK Government will continue to reject a referendum until there is more significant popular support for independence. So, for the time being, it is incumbent on those who want another referendum to shift public opinion in that direction.
David Bruce, Troon

• ROBERT Murray joins the ranks of the percentage-jugglers in equating voters with people eligible to vote. Only those who vote are voters. If people do not bother to vote, they have no grounds for objecting to the outcome of any result. If the turnout for a referendum must be taken account of, then voting must be made compulsory.
Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh

Let's have a remain question

ROBERT Murray should explain how Scotland can “be at ease with itself” when we were removed from the EU by the votes of our big neighbour, when only 25% of the Scottish electorate voted for it in the EU referendum. And yes, the votes were specifically counted nation by nation.

Perhaps if the new “New Labour" party ever gets into power, Peter A Russell can arrange a Scottish referendum on the terms he prefers, with a “Do you with to remain within the United Kingdom” question; and, constitutionally anomalous only to Scotland, a hurdle of 66% of the electorate.

This would end any British nationalist whining, and force them to finally campaign around (and itemise) all the “benefits” Scotland receives as a subordinate and powerless part of the Union. However, if the vote does not reach the required “Russell Quorum” of 66%, then Scotland should obviously revert to its natural status as a sovereign, independent nation.
GR Weir, Ochiltree

Grave error by Labour

HAD Labour only taken a firm stand on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill and demanded safeguards, its return to power in Scotland would have been guaranteed. If the leaders of Scottish Labour had kept their fingers on the pulse of voter sentiment in Scotland, they could have been making preparations even at this early stage to have Anas Sarwar in Bute House after the next election. Instead, they pandered to the woke elements in their own party and decided to join the nationalists and continue to pretend the emperor is wearing clothes.

They backed the now fatally discredited GRR bill without safety-driven amendments; they did not even allow their MSPs a free vote and that despite indications there was a strong feeling that many Labour members were instinctively against some aspects of the bill. In the end it may not matter as the SNP continues digging its own electoral grave on the same subject, but it was still a grave error on Labour’s part and perhaps a good lesson.

Principled stands are appreciated by voters.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Why Starmer ducked big question

RAB McNeil's Westminster Sketch ("On Walkout Wednesday, Labour takes it sleazy in Westminster", The Herald, February 2) was as amusing as always, but Mr McNeil must be having a laugh if he thinks that "hard-working Britons are struggling to understand Scottish Nationalists' unionist position on Europe".

It is becoming clearer by the day to Scotland (which voted strongly against Brexit), and indeed throughout the UK, that Brexit has been a disaster, and as the SNP's Westminster leader Stephen Flynn pointed out at Prime Minister's Questions, £100 billion a year has been lost to the UK economy, with Britain expected to be the worst-performing major economy this year.

Of course, Sir Keir Starmer didn't want to question the Tory Prime Minister about the Brexit folly, because he agrees with the Prime Minister about it, and so he squandered his questions on the internal politics of the Conservative Party, as Catriona Clark so eloquently highlighted in her letter (February 2).
Ruth Marr, Stirling

Brexit should be a wake-up call

IT is as wrong to blame Brexit for the UK's decline as it is to blame EU membership for it. Or, indeed, to say that rejoining would solve all our problems.

During the referendum you published a letter from me which contained these words: "If membership of the EU is such an obstacle to trade and economic growth how is it that, in 2015, Germany's exports outside the EU were €504 billion and the UK's were €234bn... in fact, Germany's exports to China were three times the UK's?"

I've never read a satisfactory pro-Brexit answer to that question, because it is contained in the deeper, complex issues we face that include the collapse in our manufacturing industry, an education system wrecked by dumbed-down lessons and disruptive, often violent, behaviour, decline in family life – as evidenced by a five-fold rise in the number of single families since 1970 and consequent increase in child poverty – the shortage of low-cost housing, lack of skilled, willing labour, ballooning benefits (and waistlines); all major drags on economic performance and nothing to do with the EU.

Most of the above areas affect all western democracies, including EU countries, but it seems worse in the UK. The blame lies at the door of a decline in people taking personal responsibility for their situation and poor political, business, moral, religious, trade union and media leadership.

Brexit should be a wake-up call for the UK, and regarded as an opportunity to address the deep-seated issues that are the real cause of our decline. Somehow create a skilled, motivated young workforce instead of having many small businesses refusing to hire youngsters because of their unreliability, and end reliance on low-value-add industries that are only profitable if they can hire cheap foreign labour. Take back control of them, as it were.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven

Know your history and remember it

RECENTLY, one of your correspondents suggested that the West should have negotiated with Putin to prevent or at least limit conflict. Putin is a latter-day Stalin with a true Soviet background.

In 1939 Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler and only became our ally after Hitler invaded Russia. (He only declared war on Japan in August 1945.) Whilst we sent armament and materials to Russia during the war, there was little help received in return. By 1945 we allowed Russia to have squatters' rights in eastern Europe where it took many years for the Baltic states, Hungary and others to claim back independence. Soviet Russia has a very poor record of diplomacy with, or independence for, its neighbours.

Another ignorance of history was displayed by the Royal Mint, whose series of British monarchs was continued with Henry VIII. Like those before him he only ruled England and its provinces.

We may not like history but we should remember and learn from it.
JB Drummond, Kilmarnock

Read more letters: Why we should be proud of our MSPs' votes for the gender bill


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