NEIL Mackay argues for more vision and honesty in setting out the case for Scottish independence (‘Where have all the big ideas on independence gone?’, The Herald, August 27).

Yet to date the SNP has found itself torn between being open on the realities of separation from the UK and having any real chance of winning over the middle ground of Scottish public opinion.

The core of the independence movement is determined to shape a far more radical future for the country than the majority in Scotland are likely to stomach.

So two of the examples Mackay touches on - abolishing the monarchy and reducing our defence spending - will play well with the SNP faithful but ring alarm bells for many in Scotland at large.

Then there is the thorny issue of the necessary ‘austerity’ required to reform an independent Scotland’s public finances onto a sustainable basis. The SNP’s own Growth Commission tried a dose of honesty on this topic and was heavily criticised from within the independence movement as a result.

The same happened when cooler heads argued for caution in introducing a new currency, as the radical independence wing again displayed its ‘independence-at-any-cost’ credentials.

Mackay believes the ‘No’ side of the argument is even more bereft of original thinking, saying “All that’s heard from the No camp is the word No”.

Yet if the SNP gets its way over another independence referendum, there will be many glaring holes in the case for leave. Also, the Electoral Commission will insist that the separatist side of that debate is not gifted with the ‘Yes’ response a second time, so it will no longer have the positive gloss that that answer provided last time to hide the shortcomings in seeking a future through breaking up what we already have.

Keith Howell, West Linton

NEIL Mackay’s article is most apposite and sums up much that is wrong with the Scottish independence debate.

Mr Mackay says the debate is dead on both sides of the argument but when the SNP produced its comprehensive White Paper in 2013 on independence, it provided the Better Together campaign with an endless amount of detail for their Project Fear campaign whilst not offering anything in return.

The Growth Commission Report by the SNP is another attempt at providing detail but as if on cue, the letter earlier this week from Ian Moir (‘Forget GERS - Scots just need to read the SNP government’s own Growth Report’, August 27) is a perfect example of someone easily attacking information whilst not offering a scintilla of comment on the benefits of Union, something your correspondent Martin Redfern has perfected as a work of art with his tired mantra on separatism, especially as the UK is now the separatist.

For those still swithering, the demand for independence can only be fuelled by having a debate on the benefits of independence, economic or otherwise, and all of these things need discussed with pragmatism and passion, not in endless detail but in broad outline as to what our independence destination may look like.

A referendum is a mechanism for achieving independence, not a reason for it, and the current lack of a proper independence debate is creating a vacuum into which dissent and alternatives are starting to fall.

Seldom discussed, yet a key issue, is the transition timescale to independence and fortunately we now have Westminster to thank, with Brexit showing us how definitely not to do it, and also the experience of other countries on how to do it, including the ‘Velvet Divorce’ in Czechoslovakia.

Only doomers and gloomers (anathema to our current Prime Minister) believe the home countries of the UK will not work together in harmony after Scottish independence and they can be expected to put up as many obstacles as possible.

Over time, with a sense of new optimism and self-worth, it will be perfectly possible for our countries to work together to create a harmonious working relationship to our mutual advantage, retaining many of the things we share now but with Scotland immediately having its own and equal voice in our new relationship - something that has never happened since 1707.

Alan M Morris,



NEIL Mackay asks where have all the big ideas gone over Scottish independence. He might have asked his namesake, Derek Mackay, the Scottish National Party Finance Secretary, for the answer.

Talking big is all very well but all big ideas cost big money. Big money only comes from a system that creates big profits for the welfare of all. It needs to be efficient, sensible, forward-thinking and prepared for all contingencies.

Current and foreseeable SNP policies do not fit this picture. Instead we have unaffordable “free” services that are taken for granted and a taxation system that does not reward effort.

The SNP never admits to any mistakes and hence cannot learn from them. In short, we have a Scottish government that ignores the obvious in pursuit of an unattainable goal. Not a recipe for success.

Dr Gerald Edwards,

Glasgow G77