Letters: Fear of Scottish independence

These letters were published in the Saturday 30th November edition of the Independent

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I have a real fear. Next year Scotland will vote for independence... and who can blame them? The remainder of the UK will be condemned to a Tory government – for ever. The year after, the remainder of the UK will vote to leave the EU. Scotland will then join the EU and either float its pound or join the eurozone.

The year after, the US will instigate a free-trade agreement with the EU. In desperation, Northern Ireland will solve its centuries-old problem and join a united Ireland. Poor Wales, with nowhere to go, will be stuck with Conservative England, cut adrift in an unfriendly world! At least we’ll have Trident, with submarines parked in the Solent, and our noble bankers to keep us afloat.

Peter Johnson

Eaton Socon, Cambridgeshire


Heartfelt compliments to Mary Dejevsky for her article on Scottish independence (29 November). She has caught not just the essentials of the argument for independence but also the sense of occasion that attended the publication of Scotland’s Future. “This was a statement by a government with a purpose, about a country with a coherent idea of itself.” Perfect! There is not a single Scottish media commentator who has come within a  country mile of her perception and optimism.

If Scotland does vote for independence, Mary Dejevsky is one Englishwoman who will have no trouble whatever crossing the non-existent border into our brave new world. And her first drink  is on me.

Jim Crumley


The message I take away from the White Paper is that life will hardly change which makes me suspect Alex Salmond realises we Scots do not want true independence. Behind the dodgy sums and gross inducements lies a “pretendy” independence in which Scotland pretends to go it alone but in practice retains most aspects of Britishness.

What will change are the symbols of power in the hands of the Dear Leader – red carpets, state visits, speeches at the UN, hobnobbing with the planet’s movers and shakers.

Dr John Cameron

St Andrews

As a Scot living in England for 15 years, I have lost some of my Caledonian fervour, and would generally be of the opinion that independence is not the best option for Scotland. But every so often along come the condescending sneers of, among others, M Finn and Mark Walford (Letters, 29 November), and I remember – that’s the England that Scotland wants to be divorced from.

Colin Dryden

Formby, Liverpool


Cigarettes have no place near hospitals

Last year my father died after spending his last four months in hospital. I visited almost daily. This awful time was made much worse because I had to watch my husband suffer from chest pains, breathlessness leading to coughing and sometimes vomiting just because he wanted to come into the hospital to support me. The reason for this was the invariable huddle of patients, relatives and staff smoking at every entrance to the hospital (Jane Merrick, 27 November).

My husband is one of the 5.5 million adults in the UK with asthma. His asthma is triggered by other people’s smoke. From my point of view there is nothing “passive” about this. I have got used over the years to being unable to enter some pubs, cinemas and shops when with my husband because of this entrance huddle, but you should not have to endure this to get to the hospital.

Mandy Dixon

Milton Keynes

In trying to ward off a possible ban on branded packaging for cigarettes, Forest and the rest of the tobacco-industry lobby are guilty of a crime against logic (Editorial, 29 November). If branded packaging does attract young people to smoking, then surely it should be banned. If it does not, then why bother with it? Either way, attractive branding and packaging are unnecessary.

Robert Hall

Stone, Staffordshire

Shutting away this legal product from over-the-counter sight hasn’t worked. Nor will plain packaging – but suppose it does, and highly lucrative tobacco revenue slumps as a result? What compulsory taxes will be slapped on non-smokers to make good the lost tax now voluntarily paid by smokers? 

Richard Humble



A discredited theory – but not for boris

It would be reassuring but futile to believe that people in powerful positions were able to think rationally. Reaganomics and Thatcherism were based on the belief in “trickle down” whereby if taxes were reduced for the rich and for business then the nation’s wealth would increase and riches would then trickle down to the poorer to the benefit of everyone (“Embrace culture of greed, says Boris Johnson”, 28 November)

Various analyses from the 1990s on have shown that the opposite happened and continues to happen. The wealth of the richest 1 per cent in the UK has risen by just under 300 per cent since 1979 and that of the bottom 20 per cent by 16 per cent. Wealth over the past 30 years has been trickling up. And yet we still have Boris Johnson arguing for the rich to get richer...

Dr S Ian Robertson

Milton Keynes


Boris Johnson claims that greed is a “valid motivator… for economic progress”. Really? That is why we are in such a fine economic state now, is it? Because of the greed of those in the financial sector prior to the crash? I have clearly misunderstood the whole situation.

Keith O’Neill



So “greed is good” once again. Except, of course, when workers or trade unions ask for better wages, whereupon the adjective “greedy” is used as a term of abuse by the Tories.

Pete Dorey

Bath, Somerset

Energy company profits

It used to be said that the military only knew a situation was getting dangerous when Kate Adie arrived from the BBC.  I have the same impression when Angela Knight turns up defending the indefensible.

David Phillips

London SW18


How our privacy was violated

Peter Wright’s account of the circumstances in which the Daily Mail wrote about my wife’s lung cancer is misleading and insensitive (Letters, 28 November).

My darling late wife. Sian Busby, never talked about her lung cancer to anyone but our immediate family and very closest friends, because she did not regard it as anyone’s business but our own. Because she was so upset when the Mail wrote about her illness, she made a point to me of explaining that she had not discussed it with the Mail reporter. And the implication that she talked about her cancer at a party, with the expectation it would be published in a newspaper, is absurd.

As for the celebrity photographer Alan Davidson mentioned in Mr Wright’s letter – he is my cousin once removed, and not Sian’s. It is a running joke for us that he snaps us whenever he sees me and my family. There was never any expectation on our  part that those photos would be published.

My memory of why Sian spoke to the Mail reporter at all is that she was flattered that he seemed to be interested in her latest novel. She was recovering from major surgery and chemotherapy, and to be taken seriously for her work would have been attractive to her.

I find it strange that the Daily Mail seeks to defend a crass exposure of very private information, which undid our efforts to protect our boys – the youngest of whom was still in primary school – from painful questioning by friends  and neighbours.

The fact that the Mail thought the diary story was “upbeat” is not relevant. It disclosed something we were desperate to keep out of the press.

As I said in my lecture earlier this week, there was no attempt by the Mail to tell us they were planning to write about Sian’s cancer or ask us if we thought it appropriate.

And, as I also pointed out, I would have complained at the time, but Sian urged me not to – because she was frail and she was anxious that in some way the Mail would retaliate. Against my instincts, I bit my tongue and kept quiet.

I spoke about the incident a few days ago to bolster my argument against state or royal-charter based regulation of the press, by showing that I do not argue this lightly and that I have personal reasons for recognising that press intrusion can be serious  and painful.

That is why I am saddened that even after all we know about the appalling lapses by newspapers and journalists in recent years, there is still no new and effective system in place to provide timely and appropriate restitution to those unfairly damaged by intrusive or mistaken reporting.

I will continue to argue that precious freedoms would be lost if regulation were underwritten by the state, directly or indirectly, but I strongly take the view that self-regulation is only defensible if newspapers respond in a speedy, decent and responsible way to legitimate complaints.

Robert Peston