Letter to Herald (unpublished)

4th January 2014
 
Sir,
 
Ian Bell is quite correct to counsel scepticism regarding the statements of politicians, although my recollection is that when we were supporting the miners strike thirty years ago, few people believed Margaret Thatcher and the NCB and that there was no hitlist of 70 pits earmarked for closure. 
 
Incidentally, in the other case he cites, it would have been odd for Tony Blair to have pledged to George W. Bush that the UK would go to war in Iraq. The fact was that the decision to do so would be in the hands of Parliament, and could have been easily derailed, for example, by Hans Blix doing his job and confirming that Saddam Hussein was in full compliance with UN resolutions.
 
However, Mr Bell is of course quite right to warn us of the obsfucations of politicians, especially where they hold obsessive views which are at odds with public opinion. This is certainly the case in the debate regarding the independence referendum, where the views of the Scottish government are contrary to those of the public, which opinion polling shows to be firmly set against the partition of the UK.
 
So I hope we can now look forward to Ian Bell’s follow-up piece which will apply the same rigorous scepticism to the record of the SNP Scottish Government. It could start with the First Minister’s duplicity regarding legal advice on EU membership, and go on to use the same forensic critical skills to take apart the massive and expensive hoax that is the independence White Paper. It could conclude with condemnation of the rank dishonesty of presenting the people of Scotland with no back-up plans or admission of the risks should every negotiation and agreement not be decided absolutely in Scotland’s favour. 
 
Or does Ian Bell believe that we need not apply to the SNP his principle that we cannot and should not “take them at their word in every circumstance?”
 
Yours,
 
Peter A. Russell
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