Letter: Scots, English and a leap in the dark

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The Independent Online
Sir: I hope Andrew Marr was not suggesting ("England, stop whingeing about a Scottish parliament", 12 February) that Scotland does not benefit in terms of fiscal transfers from her membership of the UK, for she most emphatically and quite properly does. Like many radical devolutionaries, he tries to minimise the scale of this advantage and parrots the standard SNP myth that it is actually wealthy people in the Home Counties who enjoy the greatest "subsidies" from the state. He even disinters one of the SNP greatest hits from the 1970s: "It's Scotland's Oil".

He wants a Scottish parliament, moreover, on the rather Islingtonian grounds that "what we need in Britain ... is more diversity and experiment, not less". And so the people of Scotland are to to be used as constitutional guinea pigs simply because we are bored with the old order.

The point is not that English people are "whingeing", but that the business of arranging a new constitutional settlement for Scotland is so transparently a vexed and uncertain affair. With Scottish vital interests at stake, honest analysis will serve us all better than urging Scotland to take a great leap forward into the dark.

JAMES MURPHY

London NW5

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