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NICOLA Sturgeon had one outstanding opportunity to make Scotland an independent country, which was the day after the Brexit referendum in 2016. The thing she said would happen did indeed happen, her party was at its strongest then, the UK Parliament was at its most divided and weakest, and legal or no, a referendum held later that summer would have had momentum and international sympathy behind it. She could have created her own political weather, and eventually prevailed. Probably.
She didn’t do it, and the chance was gone. Brexit has opened our eyes to what Scottish independence would be really like, the courts would go against her, and all the businessmen who sat on the fence and didn’t say anything in 2014 because they didn’t think it would happen are much more likely to speak their mind this time around, given the precarious state of the economy at the moment.
We are told any vote now would be “consultative”, perhaps asking permission to negotiate.
There might be something in this. If all of us who have better things to do with our lives just ignored the vote and got on and did that, but be gracious and agree that if Ms Sturgeon got more than two million votes then her vote is higher than the No mandate in 2014 and she can negotiate. All of us then get a second vote on the outcome, as advocated by Ms Sturgeon on Brexit, and to make sure that this is legally binding, it could be organised by the UK Government who can set a timetable to make sure that negotiations and the confirmatory referendum take place within this parliament and that there is no scope for foot-dragging from Holyrood. They could also take the opportunity to change the Yes/No answers to Leave/Remain, as advocated by the Electoral Commission in 2016.
That way, those who want an illegal referendum can have one, those who don’t can ignore it, and as long as we have the check and balance of a confirmatory vote, then surely we would all be happy?
Victor Clements, Aberfeldy.
TIME TO OPEN WHITEHALL'S BOOKS
ADAM Tomkins ("How to avoid yet more bitter wrangling and deadlock over indyref", The Herald, June 22) asserts Scotland has no legal constitutional path to independence, but then, oddly, wishes to have an open, informed debate on issues relating to independence before the matter is put to the people, in the referendum he states we are not allowed to have.
An informed debate would be around information held in London, and the post-independence desires of England as well as Scotland. In the light of that, would the Treasury open its books so we can see the actuality of UK/Scotland finances? Could we see the Cabinet minutes relating to Scotland and independence, so we can ascertain exactly what Government ministers actually believe, not what they say in public?
Finally, in the absence of Downing Street or Supreme Court agreement – not a given, as Westminster “sovereignty” is an entirely English legal conceit, and the UK constitution “enables” referenda in Northern Ireland with a seven-year gap – I cannot see any downside to an advisory referendum, followed by a “confirmatory” election. Unionists can hide during a referendum, but not an election, and with the “right of self-determination” being recognised by the UN and Winston Churchill’s Atlantic Charter, the constitutional subjugation of Scotland (by an overwhelmingly English legislature), would look mighty strange to others.
GR Weir, Ochiltree.
TORY THREAT TO THE NHS
DR Gerald Edwards (Letters, June 22) does not refer to the many laws put through under the Conservatives at Westminster affecting public services including the NHS and undermining devolution following Brexit.
The NHS is being privatised in England and the Conservative Government aims at the US health model, one of the worst in the world. The latest law has allowed private companies to sit on health boards. Westminster also aims at Scottish public services.
Through the Internal Market Act, Westminster can already spend and legislate in devolved areas such as health. There are already some private contracts being carried out in Scotland as in England, but also cuts to the public NHS from Westminster. The UK Procurement Bill and Trade (Australia and New Zealand) bills going through Westminster are a new and devastating attack on our public services and devolution. Conservative ministers will be given the power to amend devolved Scottish procurement legislation without the consent of Holyrood and the NHS in Scotland could be really opened up to US-style private corporations.
Scotland needs to and wishes to protect its public services but this is not possible without independence under the unreformed and unreformable Westminster Government. Westminster does not respect devolution or democracy and is hell-bent on privatising public services, including Scottish ones. Bring on an independence referendum for everyone’s health.
Pol Yates, Edinburgh.
• WITH the best will in the world, it is impossible not to be fearful about the SNP’s new National Care Service ("Ministers warned over ‘£1.3bn cost of National Care Service’", The Herald, June 22), with its start-up cost estimated at £1.3 billion – and we all know what "estimated cost" means under the control of Scottish nationalists; so add a plus alpha. This project has ferries-shipyard-steel plant-census-airport written all over it and unless it is taken out of the hands of those who merely want to show how different we are to the others occupying this island, we are heading paddle-less up a certain river.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.
THE INDY SHIP HAS SAILED
I WOULD have loved to have seen an independent Scotland in my lifetime, but that ship sailed in the 1970s when it could have been Scotland's oil. Even if we did achieve independence I certainly would not want it under this quite-incompetent SNP Government.
Much should have been accomplished during its long tenure, but little actually has. There has been the nonsense of the "Gaelification" of Scotland. Most areas never spoke or understood the language. This was an early warning of its priorities. Then there were the hospitals, unusable due to faulty construction. However, the final straw for me is the complete shambles of the ferries. This is an inexcusably huge waste of public money. I am sure the Gaels of the islands would much prefer a reliable ferry service to seeing Gaelic signs country-wide.
Forget a referendum and get on with the day job. By all means try for more devolved powers, but not independence. Brexit was a walk in the park compared to our separation from the UK.
Ian Smith, Symington.
UNIONS OUT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
HAVING never read, or indeed heard, of the post-Marxist Jean Baudrillard's Simulcara and Simulation, I am a bit wary of commenting on Iain Macwhirter's article ("The train for working class heroes has left the station, The Herald, June 22).
A comment I would make is that it appears to be Conservative politicians, the right-wing press and unreconstructed Blairites who are eager to draw parallels between the present situation and the 1970s. There is indeed a basic parallel: at a time of rapidly rising inflation working people are taking action to protect jobs and their families' living standards.
Running through Mr Macwhirter's article is the canard that working people are too ready to take strike action or, a variation on the same theme, are too silly to see that they are being led by Marxist fanatics whose aim is not fair pay but the overthrow of the state. After many years of austerity (state-sponsored cruelty) we should support the efforts of rail workers in their efforts to redress social and economic injustice.
Brian Harvey, Hamilton.
• ON the day of the most significant outbreak of national strikes in decades, it's a pity that Neil Mackay doesn't understand the difference between a strong and militant trade union movement determined to defend their members, and Scotland's political left ("Who will win the battle for the soul of the Scottish left?", The Herald, June 21).
The problem he misses is the demise of the S word – "Socialism" – in UK politics. Neither the Greens nor Labour talk much about the socialist values and principles that are the bedrock of radical politics. Trade union militancy is usually led by committed socialists, many of whom have little faith in either of the two options Mr Mackay discusses. To find an alternative you have to look elsewhere; despite setbacks like the defeat of Jeremy Corbyn within UK Labour, and the personality issues that ended the SSP's growth, we are still out there.
Colin Turbett, Shiskine, Isle of Arran.