PETER A Russell (Letters, May 12) claims that “there is therefore a cast-iron case to offer voters a confirmatory vote when the outcome of new independence negotiations are concluded”. Perhaps he is unaware of the recent statement by Ciaran Martin, former constitution director at the UK Government’s Cabinet Office, that in those circumstances, following a Yes vote, “the temptation is for the UK Government to negotiate extremely brutally. If that has the desired effect that’s a pretty bad situation for a part of the UK to feel that it wants to leave, as it voted to become independent, but because of a punitive approach from London it’s decided with great reluctance to stay. That’s not the basis for a harmonious union.”

The key to this is perhaps in Mr Russell’s previous sentence, that many of the aspects of independence are “not .. in the gift of the Scottish Government”. Likewise, the actual terms for independence in 2014 would very likely have been different from what was suggested in the Scotland’s Future White Paper, as these would have had to be negotiated. But both then and in future, this would have often be in the context of international treaties to which the UK is a signatory. There are, for instance, international precedents on how debt will be shared when a union state (whether Czechoslovakia or the USSR) is dissolved. The terms for Scotland’s independence are assuredly not in the gift of Westminster.

Concerning EU membership and particularly given Brexit, the UK no longer being a member, perhaps Mr Russell might suggest why Westminster would have any locus in the negotiations Scotland would have with the EU? Certainly, the notion of seamless membership has gone – not least because of Brexit. However, it is equally clear that, relatively quickly, an association agreement could be signed, as Kirsty Hughes has pointed out, or Scotland could join the European Free Trade Association and commit to the European Economic Area.

Lastly, it is always clear when unionism feels threatened. Federalism is rolled out, ignoring the structural issues (one member being 85 per cent of the whole) which make a genuinely federal system impossible. In parallel there are claims there should be a bar to independence far higher than for any other constitutional change. Brexit, for instance, went through on a 52 per cent vote for Leave, contrasting with Mr Russell’s suggested two-thirds for Scottish independence. Nor was there a confirmatory referendum, or even talk of this. Just why is Scottish independence treated differently? I think the answer to that is becoming increasingly clear.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


ANDREW Dunlop seems to have a problem with his narrative ("Reports of the UK’S death are greatly exaggerated", The Herald, May 11). It was fine to hold an EU referendum with the support of a third of the electorate, but not with half? Or that a parliamentary majority in Scotland is not the equal of one in England (or even a minority when Theresa May was Prime Minister). However, Lord Dunlop's assertion that we are all more or less the same, should allow him to welcome independence. Then he might see a Scottish government building nuclear-powered submarines for defence, and asking the United States to arm them with missiles. Or a Scottish leader could be best pals with Russian expats who flood your capital city with “dirty money”, or to seek personal financial help for holidays and baby-sitting, not to mention wallpaper. Or walk away from treaty obligations, whilst lying to your own people.

This might be hunky-dory where Lord Dunlop lives, but somehow I cannot see it catching on in auld, douce Scotland.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


I SEE that, in the wake of a victory signalling five more years of SNP stagnation, there is yet another move to modify the constitution by giving Holyrood "more powers". Devo more, devo max or something like that.

More powers? The SNP either doesn’t use or mismanages the powers it already has. Please don’t give it more to ruin. The big question that is being dodged is, in this shiny new ultra-devolved Scotland, why would Westminster continue with the Barnett formula? If just about everything is devolved, what case is there for it? Devo max would bring the same problems for Scots – a lower living standard – as separation would.

And why does anyone think that the SNP would compromise on this, the latest desperate attempt to appease a bully? The SNP’s existential purpose is to take Scotland out of the UK. It will not compromise, and it is foolish of anyone to think that it will.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


BEING a unionist I don't often find myself agreeing with Ruth Marr (Letters, May 12). But I fully endorse her comment that democracy should begin at home. Let's start with respecting the will of the 50.4 per cent majority who voted for parties opposed to another independence referendum. After all, what else does Ms Marr think we unionists could have done? Under the present system, to gain a majority of MSPs, which I suspect would be her definition of democracy, we'd need 60-70% of the vote. How is that democratic?

Scott Macintosh, Killearn.


IN the televised discussion following the Queen’s Speech, I was interested to note that the party’s deputy leader at Westminster signalled that the SNP will oppose any attempt by the House to introduce a requirement for voters to exhibit proof of ID, in polling stations, in future elections. Why? What are they afraid of?

In 2014, knowing that we would be on holiday, in the United States, we arranged a proxy to register our votes in the forthcoming referendum. On voting day, that gentleman attended the polling station to be informed by the poll clerk that we had already voted. Understandably, he protested that the record was in error since we were currently 3,000 miles away from the polling station and he was holding paperwork to prove his proxy. His persistence led to the intervention of the Presiding Officer, who instructed that our entitlement must be restored and the “bogus” votes struck off.

Might the fact that our names had been deleted from the register highlight simple error on the part of the poll clerk or might it point up the possibility that someone, knowing that we could not possibly attend to vote in person, had presented themselves at the polling station with every intention of stealing our votes?

We cannot believe that ours was an isolated experience and wonder whether the SNP shares our concern for a problem that needs to be addressed?

J Brown, Paisley.


ON reading your pages after the election I had a wry smile at the political spin offered on both sides of the constitutional debate and the phrase "the people of Scotland had spoken" . By my reckoning about 40 per cent-plus of the electorate did not cast a vote, so there is a big question mark against that phrase.

However, it is of more concern that so many do not carry out what to my mind should be a civic duty. Is there an opportunity here for politicians to do an in-depth study as to why so many do not bother and try to rectify the problem? If more than a million ballot papers were spoiled the political parties would soon take note.

Perhaps now is the time to debate whether or not some form of restriction should be placed on those who have no valid reason for not turning up to cast (or spoil) their vote. If those of the electorate not voting were to continue to rise then it could and probably would mean worrying times.

John Calder, Kilwinning.


JOHN Birkett is against “children” of 16 years old being allowed to vote in Scotland.

So is he also against them being allowed to leave school, work and pay tax, join the armed services, marry and have children?

I rather think that those considered old enough to make these contributions to our country have the right to have their views considered in how it is run by being allowed to vote in its elections.

L McGregor, Falkirk.


JANE Lendrum (Letters, May 11) claims that increasing the UK’s nuclear arsenal by 40 per cent is reckless. This is a common statement from people who don’t seem to see that the alternative of being paralysed at the mercy of others is much worse.

Carl McCoy, Paisley.

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