LETTER : The Scots are not one people

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The Independent Online
IN HIS survey of the Scottish Question, Neal Ascherson asserts that "the question is about nationalism" ("A Scottish experiment that could be a model for Westminster", 6 August). But is it that simple?

Mr Ascherson, like the Scottish National Party, would have us believe that Scotland is a more homogenous place than it is. However, Scotland is not Edinburgh: there is Glasgow and the Clyde with its strong southern Irish influence (and its own potential Protestant/Catholic divisions), there are the Gaelic western Highlands and the Hebrides, and there are the heavily Scandinavian-influenced Orkneys and Shetlands. And it would be most unwise to ignore the strong connection between central Scotland and the Ulster Protestants.

It seems likely that the desire for greater autonomy in Scotland is fuelled more by understandable resentment at having been ruled for the past 16 years by a Tory government which has reflected the interests of southern England. Before embarking on the experiment of a Scottish parliament would it not be wiser to test by referendum whether the people of Scotland were still so interested in such a far-reaching upheaval after, say, two years of a Labour government committed to treating the whole of the United Kingdom in an even-handed way?

Simon Partridge

London N2