Your leading article ("A fascinating battle begins", 15 January) poses many of the key issues relating to a referendum on Scottish independence, but omits asking what is a "nation".
Independence requires adherence to concepts of sovereignty and of a separate nation, whereas devolution needs a cultural identity and a recognition that many activities of government should be devolved to a body democratically elected by those who feel a real sense of being a cultural community.
Is there an ethnic entity that is identifiably Scottish, with clear and defendable borders? Certainly Scotland has a native language, albeit spoken by less than 2 per cent of its inhabitants, and its own legal and education systems. But the nature of modern society, with its mobility and its globalisation of business and of ownership, means the argument for a Scottish nation is arguably much less sustainable than it was even a few decades ago.
I happen to be a Yorkshireman. Yorkshire has a similar population to Scotland, and if many of us look askance at the idea of total independence for Scotland, the debate certainly encourages us to argue for real devolution to our region.
The current configuration of the UK is not God given but politically constructed, often with military force. In that sense, there is nothing in principle to stop Scotland from leaving if that is what the majority wants. Whether it is the best way of directing political effort is another matter. I'd rather get rid of those people who would let bankers get off with financial mismanagement while slashing the jobs and services of ordinary people.
In your article "Scots wha hae!" (15 January), you comment that it's not clear if Plymouth could be adapted to house Britain's Trident D5 nuclear warheads if they were no longer held in Scotland.
There is currently a consultation by the Ministry of Defence on how to deal with decommissioned nuclear submarines. The consultation proposes Devonport as a site for their initial dismantling and a possible site for the storage of the resulting intermediate-level nuclear waste.
As you point out, the facilities in Plymouth are not at a remote site. They are in a city of 250,000 people. The MoD is seeking responses to its consultation, to be received by 17 February. See mod.uk/submarinedismantling.
With regard to your 101 innovations ("Och i", 15 January), the Scots are fond of writing their own history. If a person of note can be said to have one gene that can be traced to Scotland, the Scots claim the glory. All of the discoveries claimed by the Scots were by Scots who left that miserable place to seek employment in industries built by others, mostly English or English colonies.
Their greatest achievement is self-promotion. No wonder they play the bagpipes – it needs plenty of wind.
Your correspondent (Letters, 15 January) wrote about the waste of energy from overflowing Snowdonian lakes and how it could be used to generate electricity. There is such a scheme, Dinorwig (fhc.co.uk/dinorwig.htm). It is used to pump water from a bottom lake to a top one in off-peak hours and supply the National Grid when required. It is a great visit and the coach goes right inside the mountain. It is now privatised. Your correspondent is whistling for a more sensible past. No more will be built.
So, Margareta Pagano found some of the best Christmas food offers at her local Waitrose (15 January). Great research, but that "the rest of the nation's shoppers" were "lured to Aldi and Netto for their bulk buys" is most unlikely. Netto has been closed since August.
One can only assume Mr Birkett (Letters, 15 January) is one of those who accepts that a 17-year-old may get married, have children, own a home, join the army, pay taxes and drive, yet cannot buy a knife to use in his kitchen or vote for his representative.
Correction – The Sun
On 10 April last year in an article headlined "Royals believe Eugenie and Beatrice targeted" we reported suspicions held by Prince Andrew that his daughters' phones may have been hacked. Our article implied that hacking may have been carried out by The Sun newspaper. The Sun has asked us to point out that there is no evidence whatsoever any such hacking was carried out by the title or on behalf of the title. We are happy to make the position clear.
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