Letter: Scotland and the politics of fear

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Sir: Jim Sillars ('How fearful Scotland stayed in its cage', 25 August) is mistaken on two counts.

First, the Scottish people did not, as he suggests, 'bottle it' on 9 April. The fact is, the majority of them did not support the policies which Mr Sillars, myself and others in the SNP campaigned for, preferring devolution, or, in a minority of cases, the status quo.

Further to that, it was most certainly the case that many, including, I suspect, the vast majority of Mr Sillars' own colleagues, believed that the Labour Party would, at the very least, be the largest single party in a hung parliament and find itself forced to deliver some measure of devolved government to Scotland in fairly short order.

Second, no one, apart perhaps from Mr Sillars himself, could possibly have believed that it was really going to happen for the SNP on 9 April. Only a piece of misjudged political lunacy led senior party members to claim that the SNP were about to claim the mandate to negotiate independence by winning more than half of the 72 Scottish seats.

Sadly, Mr Sillars is, however, correct on the central problem. The Scottish people are a pretty fearful lot. But if the SNP are to make advances, then it is time that they released their own commitment to the politics of fear, so accurately reflected in the petty abuse and vitriol which mars so many of their press statements. Is this the voice of a nation at peace with itself?

It would be sad if Mr Sillars were to entirely step back from Scottish politics. For while much of his style belongs to the type of politics which is at the heart of our problems, he remains a man of vision and passion. These qualities might yet serve him and his country well if he could but find a way to release the bitterness and deep judgement which hangs like a political pall above him and so many others who joined the SNP from the Labour Party.

Yours sincerely,