Herald letter: Ballots and UDI.

YOUR correspondent Alistair Galloway (Letters, May 11) suggests that the SNP should seek a mandate for UDI in future manifestos. Your readers might like to consider the following example of what happens when you take people’s votes away, as he suggests.

When the National Union of Mineworkers was set up following the post-war Labour Government’s nationalisation of the coal industry, it was decided that never again would the miners go into national strike divided. To prevent this, it was decided that there would be popular vote in form of a mandatory pithead ballot on any proposal for a national coal strike. This process resulted in the successful strikes of the early 1970s under Joe Gormley.

However, when Mr Gormley’s successor Arthur Scargill proposed national strikes to the membership, he was defeated. His response was to change the NUM constitution so that a national strike could be called by a delegate conference, and in due course he secured the strike that he wanted through such a conference. As a result, the union was divided, the miners’ strike of 1984-85 did not hold and was defeated, pit closures accelerated and deep mining is now extinct as a major industry. Possibly worst of all, many mining communities were bitterly divided and remain so in the memories of all concerned.

Scotland has been bitterly divided too, by the 2014 referendum and its continuing aftermath, in which the First Minister and her Government perversely fail to represent the two million Scots who voted to stay in the UK. It is not hard to imagine the outcome if those two million were to be betrayed and led into UDI, having cast their ballots in good faith that their vote in 2014 was decisive and would settle the issue of independence for a generation.

Mr Galloway has made it clear on many occasions that he supports independence at any price. For most people, however, I hope that it is more important to put Scotland back together again in honouring the outcome of 2014 than in promoting further – and potentially catastrophic – division and bitterness.

Peter A Russell


Herald letter: Scotland’s currency (“Haud me back”).

THERE is another very good reason “sterlingisation” is a non-starter for an independent Scotland within the EU: quite simply it is impossible to see how or why Brussels would allow a member state to use the currency of a non-member state as an international currency in direct competition to the euro (Agenda: “Not such a sterling idea for justice and sovereignty”, The Herald, February 13). If Scotland were to do so, why should, for example, other states not use the pound as well, or the dollar, or the yen?

At the same time, there are major impediments to a new independent Scottish currency. On the one side there is the question of savings: would these assets of individuals and families be forcibly converted from sterling to poonds (or whatever they will be called)? Conversely, there is the issue of existing mortgages and loans: in 99 per cent of cases, these are contracted to be repaid in pounds sterling.

As the currency of an untried economy that would immediately be depressed by the loss of a large chunk of its income in the form of tens of billions of fiscal transfers from the rest of UK, the poond would undoubtedly be valued by the markets at a level lower than the pound. So the case of the SNP will be: “Vote for independence to devalue your savings and put up your mortgage repayments.” Tempting.

Peter A. Russell

Herald letter: Institutional Cleansing

THE process described by Allan Sutherland, whereby all signs of Scotland’s Britishness are to be eliminated by guidance, regulation and custom and practice determined by the Scottish Government, could be best defined as “institutional cleansing”. Indeed, there is now a good deal of healthy suspicion that what the SNP failed to achieve by its failed referendum, it now seeks to bring about by stealth.

In that light, it would be far better if ceremonial issues such as the protocol for the flying of flags were taken out of the political arena, and made the responsibility of the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. This would also reflect the position so frequently ignored by the First Minister and her colleagues, that she and they are in office to serve the Parliament, rather than vice-versa.

Peter A Russell,

Poem re-posted for International Holocaust Memorial Day

Who’s That Knocking At The Door?
Theodor Kramer
(1897 – 1958 b. Vienna)

Who’s that knocking at the door
Too early for most souls?
It’s just the baker’s boy my pet
Dropping off some rolls

Who’s that knocking at the door?
I’ll go, my child, don’t stir
Just a man at the neighbours’
Asking who we were

Who’s that knocking at the door?
Run your bath, you needn’t care
That letter we’re expecting
Here’s the postman on the stair

Who’s that knocking at the door?
Now there, just make the bed
It’s the landlord: we’ll be put out
On the first of the month, he said.

Who’s that knocking at the door?
The fuchsia blossom is so near:
My sweetheart, pack my toilet bag
– And don’t weep while they are here.

Herald letter: Equal Union

RUTH Marr describes the UK as an “unequal Union” (Letters, December 12). One wonders in what kind of world there can be an arrangement more equal than one voter, one vote, the basis on which we decided to leave the EU. Likewise, Scots decided on the same basis to stay in that Union in 2014, which is a good job as the evidence is that, otherwise, Scotland would have left the UK and with it the EU in March 2016.

We can only imagine the chaos that would have ensued when the SNP tried to negotiate simultaneous exits from both unions in a space of 18 months.

Peter A Russell

In which I get international recognition for a wee bit of observation…


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Herald letter: 2014 vote and young voters.

YOUR correspondent Sandy Thomson (October 31) tells us “young people on the streets of Barcelona remind me so much of the equally young Scots who voted decisively for independence in 2014”. In which case, his memory is playing tricks with him.

In fact, the British Election Survey confirmed after the Scottish referendum that both the 16-19 and 20-24-year-old age groups rejected independence in roughly the same proportions as the rest of the population.

 Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon granted the vote to young people in the belief that they would vote for fairy tales: in the event, Scotland’s young people proved to be wiser and more sensible than the Nationalists assumed. As the high-water mark of Scottish nationalism fades with Mr Thomson’s memory, the fact remains that the young were not, and are not, as daft as the SNP believed.