THE referendum campaign has entered another and perhaps decisive stage, reminiscent in many ways of the 1979 referendum campaign for a Scottish Assembly.

In 1979, the No campaign was run by the same commercial and political forces now in play. The Labour Government was notionally in favour of its own legis­lation, which it had allowed to be crippled by the 40% rule. It sat passive, leaving the trade unions and opposing Labour MPs to join with the Conserva­tives in opposing the creation of an Assembly with minimal powers.

Yet the deceptions and threats were still being made. The Assembly, they said, would lead to a wholesale withdrawal of Scottish industry with loss of jobs. The oil located in Scotland's waters was British. It wasn't all that valuable. It would run out and where would Scotland be then? Impoverished and ruined was the answer. And weren't we under a duty to be selfless and help out England's poor? Further generations of those English poor - and Scotland's too are still with us - and using food banks for survival.

Fifteen years after the setting up of the Scottish Parliament, the disaster has not happened. None of Scotland's companies kept to their threats to pull out. Instead many of the objectors have prospered. If there has been any problem affecting Scottish commerce it has come from the mismanagement of the British economy and its cataclysmic failure to control the credit explosion from which came the 2008 depression.

As for oil, the tax revenues went south, causing huge expansion in London at the expense of the rest of the UK.

It's all happening again. Standard Life says it "may" transfer jobs and capital south. Then there is the Weir Group, which is to produce an "independent" report to assess the advantages and disadvantages of independence ("Firm highlights 'serious questions'", The Herald, February 27). Some may remember the then chairman, Lord Weir, being amongst the most militantly opposed of Scotland's industrialists.

Until the start of the year, London thought it had the result in the bag. Then six polls charted growing support for Yes. Abruptly, the Unionist campaign became aggressive.

The figment that Better Together was running a purely Scottish campaign was brushed aside. Alistair Darling has been sidelined. In came the main armament of the British state. As revealed in the Sunday Herald, the British Government had actively canvassed support from other countries, including Russia and Spain, to collate opposition that would be published.

Then there was the Cameron "love-bombing", the Osborne and Balls blitzkrieg on the currency, followed by the President of the EU Commission saying that Scotland would have difficulty becoming a member of the EU and a rare meeting of the Cabinet in Scotland to proclaim Scotland's remaining oil was better in London's hands.

The timing and sequences demonstrate that although the British Government claimed it was not involved in the debate, it had laid the ground work for its direct intervention through a series of political hammer blows. The tactics as in 1979 are simple - destroy Scottish self-confidence and morale.

There is no attempt to put forward constructive reasons for Scotland to stay in the Union. Promises for more devolution may be made at the Scottish party conferences. Do not believe them. In the aftermath of a No vote, London will see no need to give more powers to Scotland.

If the Scottish people are as gullible as in 1979, there is not much that can be done. They will pay the price. The budget of the Scottish Government will be slashed when the Barnett revenue formula is abolished and £25bn of cuts come down the line. In that case, the harsh experience that follows will induce Scotland to win independence in 10 years' time.

But why wait? The evidence from 1979 is that these threats never come to anything. They are propaganda only. What is a reality is that Food Bank Britain is crumbling. The bubble of accelerating growth of London and the South-east of England will provoke increases in interest rates that will reverse today's shallow recovery and induce a further recession.

There is an economic case to be made for independence and so far it has not been projected strongly enough. Time for Yes Scotland to move from defence to counter-attack.

Gordon Wilson,

48 Monifieth Road,

Broughty Ferry,


SOME years ago, due to a miscalculation from someone employed by Standard Life, there was a shortfall in my endowment policy.

As a direct result of this, I had to find funds elsewhere to clear my mortgage, but, by way of some compensation, I was "awarded" shares to the value of about two-thirds of the shortfall.

I have retained those shares, not a lot of money, through various fluctuations, but today, on a matter of principle, I have decided to sell them.

I can only view the statement from the company on a possible move south as an attempt to coerce the Scottish electorate to vote No.

This is unacceptable and smacks of Edward I of England and his "Ragman's Roll".

The money raised from the sale of my shares will be happily spent on taking advantage of the Scottish tourist industry's excellent portfolio, safe in the knowledge that a move to England is out of the question.

Joseph G Miller,

44, Gardeners Street,


SO Standard Life has threatened to leave Edinburgh in the event of a Yes vote.

This threat is just another example of the selfish self-interest the financial sector has in the face of a potentially more egalitarian society through a Yes vote.

Banks and insurance companies, by their very nature, are only interested in making money and really do not care who suffers in the process. The excesses of the City of London over the last few years demonstrate this quite clearly.

Scotland would be better off with a slimmed-down financial sector. The grossly-exaggerated self-importance these organisations have does not impress me or many other Scots. Those living in Wester Hailes or Easterhouse will not register with Standard Life and they will still struggle day to day whether Standard Life is in Edinburgh or Ealing.

On the plus side, by leaving Scotland many of these tainted institutions would be taking their poisoned debt and risk with them. We could get back to the basics where real money is made by making and supplying real and useful products and services rather than the fantasy economics of money speculation.

So start packing your bags, Standard Life. I, for one, won't miss you.

Simon Taylor,

3 Kirkdene Place,

Newton Mearns.

At last a major Scottish-based company has announced that it is preparing contingency plans for a possible move outside Scotland in the event of a vote for independence citing concerns over currency, financial services regulation, and individual taxation of savings and earnings.

I expect other major employers will follow this lead and bring some realism and hard facts to the debate instead of claim and counterclaim, bluff, bluster, and the promise of all things bright and beautiful.

R Russell Smith,

96 Milton Road,