Readers' Letters: Stop the 'Once in a generation' talk

I am no nationalist as for me the economic case against an independent Scotland is unanswerable.

Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack

However, I am sick and tired of the specious argument against a second referendum trotted out by Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack and his fellow travellers, that “the SNP said at the time it was once in a generation”. The argument would have some merit if his party and the Brexiteers hadn’t taken the UK out of the EU, an act Scotland had voted heavily to reject. Since then Scotland has elected 47 SNP MPs to Westminster and 61 to Holyrood.

If that doesn’t convince them that their Brexit has changed the political landscape, the opinion polls now consistently report a clear majority for independence. To make matters worse, the Scottish Labour and Scottish Lib Dems share the Tory position.

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It is ironic that it takes a former Tory Prime Minister, John Major, and his suggestion of a double referendum, to suggest a way out of this stalemate which enables Nicola Sturgeon to brush her appalling domestic governance under the carpet of the constitution.

Kit Fraser, Belhaven High Street, Dunbar

It’s our land

It is truly appalling seeing a politician trying to deny the will of the people.

How can Alister Jack possibly justify saying that the people of Scotland have no right to decide their own future for 25 or even 40 years?

C Donaldson, Moffat

And repeat

Let’s say there is a referendum within the generation and that it goes for a Yes. Can those who opposed have a re-referendum? Or is this like planning applications? Keep battering away until you get your plans through, build the edifice and you’re stuffed.

Why should a referendum only work one way? Is this not an argument to support the “once in a generation” referendum, otherwise we have society and government tied up going nowhere?

A bit like Covid, where governing has collapsed. But that’s another debate!

Andrew Forrest, Belgrave Road, Edinburgh

Majority idea

Interesting comments from John Major, in attempting to overcome the drawbacks of single issue referendums, decided on a simple majority, eg, Brexit, or independence. Serious constitutional change should not be decided on a simple majority, and his solution is for a second confirmatory referendum.

Another avenue to approach would be to copy other countries, ie, to ensure a proper majority, hurdles should be put in place to be achieved, eg, 55 per cent or 60 per cent of the electorate must be in favour for the issue to go ahead. Brexit should never have gone ahead on 52 per cent of the voting public (and I support Brexit).

William Ballantine, Dean Road, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Outsider view

It is very kind for Sir John Major to suggest that the SNP be allowed another chance to break up the UK. Indeed, he even suggests that there be two referenda. It is obvious that he did not have to live through the turmoil of the first.He should also bear in mind that the No vote won the 2014 referendum and the leaders of the SNP signed an agreement to respect the result. Of course, they haven’t done so.One question Sir John did not address, however, was why we bothered to have the first referendum at all, if he is happy to let the separatists have another go at breaking up our country despite their losing the first one?Does he realise that, had the SNP won, there would never have been a second referendum?

Andrew HN Gray, Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh

Consistency rules

Alister Jack's suggestion that there should not be a second independence referendum for a generation was characterised as Trumpism by Nicola Sturgeon. This is in keeping with her repeated dismissals of such suggestions on the grounds we live in a democracy – which is indeed the case. You might expect, therefore, that the First Minister of a democracy "would always seek to respect the decisions of parliament" as John Swinney recently stated the SNP would.

Yet when the Scottish parliament makes a decision demanding the release of documentation relating to the Salmond inquiry Nicola Sturgeon doggedly continues to disrespect it. This looks to me remarkably like Trumpism; even moreso, given that it is tainted with the irresistible suspicion there is something explosive she is desperate to cover up.

Perhaps it should also be of concern to SNP supporters that such disrespect for democracy may Trump their independence aspirations. If, as they hope, a majority of SNP MSPs is returned in the May elections on a ticket for a second referendum then the procedure would be presumably to carry a vote in the Scottish parliament requesting a Section 30 order to initiate the referendum process. But if the First Minister can wantonly disregard democracy by rejecting the decisions of the Scottish Parliament, why would it be any different if Boris Johnson followed her example and played the Trump card?

Colin Hamilton, Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

Man of his time

John Lloyd gives a rounded view of Lord Nelson, refuting the partial or false “racist” assertions around him (Letters, 10 November).

But Nelson did order his sailors to “hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil” – possibly excusable in wartime, but almost certainly worse than anything he said about non-European races, and condemned by Bertrand Russell as an extreme example of where nationalism can lead.

However, whether or not some of journalist Afua Hirsch’s points are valid, it would hardly be surprising from the evidence of the world they inhabited and their limited knowledge of the rest of the world, if those like Nelson, David Hume, and others (such as even Gandhi in his early South African years) did exhibit racist characteristics. Almost everyone then did; it would have been much more remarkable if they did not. If you were a citizen of a small island off the north-west coast of Europe which created the largest global empire in history, you were almost pre-destined to believe in the superiority of your race, as most previous imperialists did.

That in no way excuses the brutal industrial-scale Atlantic slave trade, begun by Portugal and then dominated by the UK from c1700 for 130 years, which of course needs to be fully acknowledged (including by our complicit “Christian” churches) – as long as it is also recognised that this could not possibly have happened for so long or to the dreadful extent that it did, without the continuous supply of slaves sold willingly by the African kings and chiefs from their own people they wanted rid of and from their captives from other tribes.

Finally, those bringing Churchill into their all-embracing den of iniquity might consider that he did more to combat racism than anyone else in his lifetime.

John Birkett, Horseleys Park, St Andrews

Listed lot

David Millar (Letters, 10 November) says the "Scottish Government is held together by six unelected Green party members".

If this is a reference to the fact that all the Green Party MSPs won their seats through Regional list element of our proportional representation system, Mr Millar should note that the combined opposition in Holyrood is held together by 46 out 60 MSPs who are list members and, by Mr Millar's standards, unelected.

Gill Turner, Derby Street, Edinburgh

FM for Glasgow?

Perhaps I have a suspicious mind – if I do it is with good reason – but it is difficult not to feel First Minister Niola Sturgeon’s latest and baffling Covid rules and change from numbers to letters is a form of smokescreen.

However, one thing remains constant. Her choice of areas to be hardest hit or to be left untouched seems to have a continuing and very disturbing pattern.

Strongly SNP voting regions, such as Glasgow, with more than its fair share of nationalist zealots, are treated with kid gloves, while those areas of Scotland harbouring more pro-UK voters are hammered. I do not see what other interpretation could be put on some of her decisions.

Alexander McKay, New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Go federal

Unionists make great play of the Barnett Formula “subsidy” to Scotland. This is, at best, misleading and ,at worst, patronising. I think it is more accurate to describe it as a bribe to keep Scotland in the UK. Since people who pay bribes always want something in return, the question arises as to what this is.

This week's Economist provides an answer – it is Scotland's strategic northern position, which enables the UK to control the choke point of the Greenland- Iceland-UK gap in the face of a resurgent Russian naval and airborne threat. Since Scotland contributes something of great strategic value to the UK, it is time that Unionists afforded Scotland greater respect and stopped their narrative of Scotland as a “subsidy junkie”.

It seems to me that there is a middle way between the extremes of Nationalism and Unionism, and that is Federalism. Only in this way will Scotland be treated as a partner of equals.

Otherwise England will lose Scotland unnecessarily, just as it lost most of Ireland a century ago. The eviction of the Royal Navy from Irish ports in 1938 was keenly felt in the Second World War. The loss of Scottish military and naval bases would be even more devastating, especially if Northern Ireland joined the Republic of Ireland.

Home Rule for Scotland would be a part of a long overdue decentralisation of the whole of the UK to everyone's benefits.

Colin McAllister, South Street, St Andrews

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