I AM asked directly (Letters, July 7) regarding civil and political freedoms enjoyed in Scotland whether these should not include self-determination, and whether the outcome of the Brexit referendum does not show a deficiency in these liberties.
In response, I would point out that the independence referendum of September 2014 was the biggest ever exercise in self-determination that Scotland had then ever seen, and that this was only exceeded by the Brexit referendum in which Scotland participated as part of the UK.
The 2014 outcome resulted in the participation of every Scottish voter in 2016 as to whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU: the question was not about Scotland, nor did any ballot paper bear the disclaimer “Does not apply in Scotland.” While a majority of Scottish voters rejected the proposition, the same can be said of London and various other parts of the UK, and the vote of every Scot was equal to that of every other voter, whatever their postcode or background.
Your readers may wish to reflect that those who deny these facts, such as some of your correspondents, are the true deniers of Scottish self-determination. The same applies to those, including the SNP, who seek to undermine the choices we have freely made both as Scottish and British voters.
Peter A Russell,
IAIN Macwhirter rightly points out that “the case for national liberation is much more difficult in a country like Scotland when people do not feel oppressed or denied civil or political rights”.
There is also an extremely good reason why we do not feel oppressed: the civil and political rights we enjoy are amongst the best in the world, and Scots have no missing freedoms to be gained from independence.
Peter A Russell
(The section in italics was cut by the Herald and did not appear in the paper.)
I HAVE recently received an election communication through the post from the SNP. I am told that it has been mailed directly to many others across Scotland.
As a matter of public service, I would like to point out to any others of your readers who may receive it that it contains a number of untruths in claiming achievements for the SNP.
The most obvious of these are free elderly care, free university tuition for Scottish students and free bus travel for pensioners. It is of course a matter of public record that all of these were introduced by the earlier Labour-Liberal Democrat coalitions. Those less generous than myself might also notice that the Borders Railway (another “SNP” achievement) was signed up by the Lab/LibDem administration before it left power in 2007.
Such untruths only go to reinforce the sense that if you are unfortunate enough to have Nicola Sturgeon or your local SNP candidate come round for tea, you should be careful to count the spoons before they leave.
Your readers may also like to ask themselves how these services are paid for. The answer is of course that they are only possible because of the many billions of pounds that Scotland receives under the pooling and sharing arrangements of the United Kingdom. Yes, the same United Kingdom that the SNP wishes to kiss goodbye to – along with all of the funding that comes with it.
That is not on the direct mail shot either.
Peter A Russell
YOUR correspondent William Thomson (Letters, April 22) questions the Labour Party’s continuing opposition to a further referendum on Scottish independence. In fact, the reason for this is really very simple.
The back of every Labour Party membership card bears the following statement: “by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more then we achieve alone.” This is simply the application of our philosophy that humankind is most successful when we work in unions. This applies to our personal lives, in the world of work, in our communities and in the relationships between regions within countries and between nations.
There is no evidence that Scotland is so special as to be the exception to this rule. Indeed, the history of the United Kingdom shows that all of the progress from which we benefit today has been made through collective achievements at all levels.
In contrast, nationalism has achieved nothing whatsoever, and indeed has proven to be a destructive and divisive influence. Can anyone really truthfully say that Scotland is a better and happier place than it was 10 years ago before the SNP took power at Holyrood?
Or indeed that another independence referendum is what we need to heal the divisions and enduring harm of the last one?
Peter A Russell
HAVING lost the 2014 referendum on the economic facts, it is now clear that Scottish Nationalists wish to muddy the water by discrediting the Scottish Government’s own GERS figures and creating a fact-free zone for any future repeat.
I would refer your readers to the excellent Fraser of Allander Institute blog on the derivation and status of GERS by Graeme Roy, and to the approval of the UK Statistics Authority, which is the “kitemark” for such data. They can then make their own minds up.
In the meantime, we can also consider two implications of the claims of the unreliability or inaccuracy of GERS.
The first is that margins of error work both ways. If the GERS deniers believe that the gap between our revenues and expenditures is, for example, a mere £10 billion rather than the eye-watering £15bn identified, they assume a margin of error of £5bn. By that same token, it could also be inaccurate by the same sum in the other direction: anyone fancy starting a country with a £20 billion per annum deficit? (No, me neither.)
The second point is to imagine that the GERS deniers are correct and that the figures are completely useless. Then we must consider just how completely crazy the proposition would be to embark on independence with no idea whatsoever about our revenues and expenditure, nor about the balance between the two. (Count me out of that one, too.)
Peter A Russell
THE Scottish Government’s latest figures show our economy to be stumbling towards a recession, while that of the rest of the UK shows modest growth. No-one should doubt the seriousness of the situation. The main difference between the Scottish economy and those of other UK regions is that only Scotland faces the uncertainty of the threat of a further referendum on secession.
The danger of this threat has been apparent since the 2014 referendum, when the SNP failed to grasp the opportunity to create stability by abandoning its policy of independence in line with the wishes of the Scottish people. It has become even more so since Nicola Sturgeon chose to add yet greater uncertainty to that of Brexit by unilaterally declaring her intention for another referendum.
It is well documented in Canada how businesses have shunned Quebec and turned increasingly to cities like Toronto as they make investment and expansion decisions – again because of the threat of secession. Scotland faces the same fate unless independence is put to bed indefinitely.
There is still a course of action which the First Minister can take which will offer hope for businesses in Scotland: she can put country above party and call off her dogmatic and blinkered pursuit of independence. To do so would take enormous courage and real qualities of leadership, and would cost her the support of the most fanatical of her supporters. However, it would gain her the admiration of even her most sceptical of critics, and – above all – would save the jobs and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Scots, now and in decades to come.
Peter A Russell
You have to wonder what happened to them.