OK, SNP, you're allowed one line in your manifesto, and that's it

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford with the party's 2019 General Election manifesto. What will the next one look like? <i>(Image: PA)</i>
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford with the party's 2019 General Election manifesto. What will the next one look like? (Image: PA)

NICOLA Sturgeon claims that the next General Election will be a de facto independence referendum ("Stakes high for Sturgeon as indy legal bid falls apart", The Herald, November 24), but that is not only dishonest, it is impossible.

A referendum is a poll to directly answer a single key question. That simply cannot happen in a General Election, where parties are expected to address a range of different issues across a manifesto. People rarely agree with the entirety of these expansive documents and their wide range of topics: they place their vote according to their balancing of the preferable to the disliked.

You might support the Tories backing Ukraine but disapprove of their NHS policy; you might support Labour's housebuilding strategy but disapprove of its immigration laxity. You might support the SNP's transgender agenda but there is no logical link between that and the completely separate topic of independence. A General Election vote for the SNP is not, in itself, a vote for independence: and that vote would be especially suspect when an election manifesto contaminates the question with a host of electoral public spending bribes that distort people's reactions further. Did they vote for independence or for a bus pass?

The only way that Ms Sturgeon can be correct in her blind insistence that up is down, black is white and elections are referendums is for her to run a truly single-issue election – to the very letter. The 2024 SNP manifesto can only be one sentence long: "We campaign for independence". At the leaders' debate, Ms Sturgeon can only repeat the same single line the entire night: "I refuse to answer that question as I only want to consider independence." The moment she can't help but stick her oar into another policy issue, her referendum becomes invalid.
Robert Frazer, Dundee

Difference with Northern Ireland

DAVID Howie (Letters, November 24) asks why "the electorate in Northern Ireland have a legal right to a referendum every seven years after the initial referendum"?

The answer is that they do not have any such right. In fact, the power to call a referendum is exclusively in the hands of the UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who can use it when he or she personally considers it likely to be a majority in favour of reunification. And then seven years is the minimum period after which such a poll (if unsuccessful) may be repeated. If we were to have the same provision in Scotland, it would put the holding of Indyref2 in the sole hands of (currently) Alister Jack, and we would need to accept his judgment as to whether Yes would win. I cannot imagine that this arrangement is what Scottish nationalists would want.

My own view is that the various parts of the UK should have the unilateral right to secede, provided that the bars are set high enough for both calling a referendum and for it to carry. In the first case, two-thirds of MSPs are currently needed to vote to amend representation issues in the Scottish Parliament (voting system, boundaries and so on), so it seems logical that a referendum which abandons representative democracy entirely should require the same threshold.

In the second case, it has been interesting to hear both the First Minister and her SNP deputy tell us that they believe Scottish independence should only come about if supported by "a majority of Scottish voters" (Ms Sturgeon in her Supreme Court concession speech) or "50%+1 of the Scottish electorate" (Keith Brown on BBC Newsnight). I could not agree more – 50%+1 of the turnout alone would not represent a majority unless that turnout was an impossible 100%.

In any event, following the decision of the Supreme Court it is now clear that the only way for the nationalists to advance their case is through amendment of the Scotland Acts. If they were to campaign for the above provisions, I would support them – and I know that I am not alone amongst that majority that opposes independence.
Peter A Russell, Glasgow

Arguments have not changed

CLEARLY, the reactions of your unionist correspondents to the Supreme Court decision are to be expected, but do they really think that anyone who sincerely believed independence to be the best option for Scotland on Tuesday will have changed that view today?

The court ruling is only the latest obstacle put in the way, and does not change the arguments for or against independence.

In reality the political situation has changed very little. The UK Government has refused a referendum consistently for four Prime Ministers now. All the evidence indicates the next four will probably take the same line unless they can be persuaded it is in their interest to do otherwise.

The job of the wider independence movement now, as it was on Tuesday, is to move the dial in opinion polls to a point where the Scottish people are undeniably behind the independence proposition.

Whether you accept the “de-facto plebiscite” label on the next General Election or not, the result will have a significant impact on wider perception of the public mood.
Cameron Crawford, Rothesay

New poll is one to wonder

I FOUND it very sad to read the letters (November 24) from your unionist correspondents who are cock-a-hoop at the ruling of the Supreme Court; clearly, in their universe they believe it preferable that Scotland should be under the control of governments at Westminster we never voted for rather than governments democratically elected by the people who live and work in Scotland. We have learned the hard way that power devolved is power retained; the Brexit we also never voted for made that glaringly obvious.

The findings of the latest opinion poll suggests that half of Scots voters would vote SNP if it could mean Scotland becoming independent ("Channel 4 poll: 'Half of Scots would vote SNP to leave UK'", heraldscotland, November 24). The Channel 4 poll found that 50% would say yes, while 33% would say no, with 16% undecided. Unionists may crow about the court's ruling, but this opinion poll should give them pause for thought.
Ruth Marr, Stirling

No comparison with Quebec

IT was surprising and disappointing that Lord Reed resorted to comparing Quebec with Scotland. This comparison is regularly invoked by opponents of Scottish independence but is utterly spurious. Quebec was not a country that had been established for several centuries and did not form a voluntary union with anybody.

However, as the establishment of the UK Supreme Court might itself have been in violation of the Treaty of Union, perhaps we should not be too concerned with such trifles.
Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh

How do we become a colony?

CAN any of the constitutional experts who write to The Herald advise how Scotland can apply to become a colony so that it will have a right of self-determination?

It’s absurd.

The people of Scotland are sovereign; we shall become independent when we decide.

Haste the day.
Grant McKechnie, Glasgow

• I SUPPORT independence for Scotland. That said, if another referendum were to be allowed by Westminster now, and the result produced a Yes majority, what's to stop Union supporters demanding another one a few years down the line? I share the frustration of all who value democracy but surely some objective ground rules should be set regarding the criteria for holding a referendum which would obviate the need for Westminster approval?
John O'Kane, Glasgow

• MANY pro-Scottish independence writers have written letters on the UK Supreme Court decision (November 24), and I respect their views. But can one of them please answer a question? Should Indyref2 happen and if the unionists were to prevail for a second time, how many years should lapse before Indyref3 happens?
Geoff Moore, Alness

• COULD one of the scholars amongst your readership enlighten me: is “de facto” the Latin for mince?
Michael Watson, Glasgow

Please, people, wake up

AM I alone in thinking that we're well on the way to becoming a third world country? The signs are there – a dictatorial attitude from the political leaders who are convinced that what they think and what they do is always right and pity anyone who dares to disagree with them; third-rate politicians, many of whom have no experience of the real world in which we live and work; a decline in essential services – education and the health service to name but two; and, if the media is to be believed, corruption in high places.

We can but hope that the population of Scotland will waken up before the next election and make their voices heard via the ballot box.
Alan McGibbon, Paisley

Read more letters: We need to be protected from this SNP Government


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