An extraordinary fact about the Scottish referendum is that the Scottish National Party is assuring the electorate of all manner of things that will be achieved with a Yes decision but fails to mention that it, too, has an election around the corner. The SNP majority is wafer thin; they have 65 seats out of a total of 128. The possibility that they will lose is real. If this happens, all Alex Salmond’s promises go out the window and then the people of Scotland will have no idea what it is they have voted for.
There is more to this independence referendum than the trivial arguments of “here today gone tomorrow” politicians and their policies that can be, and are, changed on a regular basis. It is about our United Kingdom and the people who have lived together, worked together, fought and died together, for over three centuries.
At stake is our United Kingdom, a country that we have built together. We have achieved so much more together than we ever could have achieved as separate nations, why throw all that away on the basis of a White Paper that raises more questions than it answers? As people from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland we urge our friends in Scotland not to let the arguments of separatism and division win the day. We can have a bright future together as a United Kingdom.
Richard Hyslop Berkshire
Vincent Acheson Bury St Edmunds, Pam Allan
Cumbria and 143 other people from the rest of the UK
Am I the only person who is fed up with the wall-to-wall coverage of the Scottish referendum? What possible relevance is all this for the 50 million people in the UK who have no say in the matter? If the Scots are gullible enough to vote for independence then they deserve all that is coming: another small country to be pushed around by the big powers, the multinationals and global finance. I hope they are not taken in by the SNP and those on the left who think independence will herald a bright new dawn for Scotland. Scotland is not Cuba and Salmond is no Castro.
As the Scots, who already enjoy free university education and prescriptions, are wringing so many more concessions out of the Government with their independence campaign, can we in England, once the hoo-ha is all over north of the border, also threaten to break away from the Union?
Perhaps my childhood left me overly suspicious, but those citizens comfortably domiciled in England who seem to be enthusiastically encouraging the Scots to go for it and vote to leave the Union somehow remind me of those kids who used to hang about on the far side of streams or below the branches of trees and were always ready with the words of encouragement, “Go ahead, jump!”
Your interesting article (15 September) entitled ‘‘Scotland decides: the hot topics’’ encompasses the issues uppermost in voters’ minds but, I believe, does not mention the criterion by which posterity will view an independent Scotland. It will be seen as part of a wider move towards narrow, insular nationalism in Europe and the Middle East, which has followed the post-war liberal desire and achievement to unite people and look for the common good between national, ethnic and cultural identities.
The effects of this, particularly when accompanied by radicalism, are already clear to see in many current conflicts and it should never be forgotten that precisely the same issues were the root cause of the two world wars. It is fanciful to suggest that England would ever again be at war with Scotland but economic, social and political conflict there will be, the extent of which only history will tell. The possible short-term political and social gains for Scotland will pale into insignificance compared with the long-term divisive effects of breaking up the UK.
Dr Hugh Savill
Army chiefs say “Yes vote is irresponsible” but are they just another part of Cameron’s background lackeys, spreading doubt? The government has slashed the size of the army, putting P45 heroes on the scrapheap while, at the same time, advertising for people to make a career in the services. They are trying to persuade legions of working people to become part-time soldiers, so that they can be sent abroad in the event of war. The Government pretends that smaller means better. They propose to spend many billions on Trident, the most expensive of the nuclear weapon options. We are the only country that exclusively sites its nuclear weapons in submarines.
Nuclear is useless in many wars. They are pointless with regard to Ukraine, Isis, or Gaza. They were not appropriate in Afghanistan or Iraq.
If Scotland says Yes, why not save an awful lot of money and base our nuclear weapons on land. How about silos in Surrey? If any defence policy is irresponsible, it is the cutback on conventional forces. About two years ago, the Navy had to rent a conventional submarine from the Germans, because we did not have one available. A few months ago the Queen launched an aircraft carrier that has to wait years to be fitted out, and even longer to get planes. Irresponsible?
Alex Salmond declares that if denied currency union and forced to use sterling unofficially as Panama uses the US dollar, then he will refuse to take Scotland’s share of the national debt. While not technically a default, it will be interpreted as such so that Scotland will not be allowed to borrow money for 10 years and will be plunged into unprecedented austerity. In addition, the EU could not possibly admit a country which had walked away from its debts as it would create a precedent for Catalonia to say nothing of Greece and Italy. Scotland’s retention of sterling would become a source of speculation, which would quickly result in failure, with the statelet forced to introduce its own currency within months.
Dr John Cameron
Don’t push putin too far – he’ll fight back
he big bad wolf Putin is now in a much stronger position to negotiate on his terms. The pro-war, hawkish government, the Baltic States, Poland and Romania, are at odds with the more dove-ish governments – the Germans, the French and Spanish who want to maintain the trade relationship with Russia.
There is little doubt that the United States and Russia have contributed to the destabilisation of Ukraine. The root cause of the conflict was precipitated by the overthrow of an elected pro-Russian president and our ill-advised messianic zeal to align Ukraine with Europe and Nato. What makes the situation even worse is government steps being taken to dismantle the pillars of democracy with arbitrary arrests, censorship and banning the Communist Party. If Russia is pushed too far, it may respond with short-range tactical nuclear weapons, which will draw the US and Europe into another world war.
Los Altos, California
Modern hymns and few ladies in hats
I’ve just read Rosie Millard’s rant on Songs of Praise. I wonder when she last watched it?
Although I only see it occasionally, I am aware that there are lots of modern, thought-provoking hymns and songs and very few ladies in hats. The programme is well-loved and Millard doesn’t have to watch it. A schedule made up of what she likes would not suit many of us!
Military assistance is not the answer
For the US or the UK to intervene with military force of any sort is symptomatic treatment. It is as if we pulled a series of drowning men out of a river instead of going upstream to stop who was pushing them in. Worse, it forces us to take sides in the conflict and heaps fuel on a fire.
This is a world crisis and we need to urge both Saudi Arabia and her supporting countries and Iran and her supporting countries to meet and talk. We must not send military assistance of any sort to either side, but to offer humanitarian aid to both sides and urge them to negotiate wholeheartedly.
Too often Western powers have rushed into involvement on one side or the other with disastrous results. Let us spend all our efforts encouraging dialogue and giving aid.
Swainby, North Yorkshire
Small charities must be scrutinised
Paul Vallely’s article of 10 September on charities doesn’t mention fraud.
Small charities may be “the lifeblood” of the sector, as the chair of the Charity Commission, William Shawcross, says. But only charities with an income of over £25,000 are required to file accounts. Without accounts, the public cannot examine the money flows in and around a charity.
Vallely briefly touches on whether there are too many charities. The number of military charities, for instance, is confusing for the public and those who serve. Yet this isn’t only about duplication and inefficiencies. This over-supply and the fact that military charities have become one of the most popular causes – consider Help for Heroes – also mean fraudsters are active in this charity sector.
Dr Alex May