Whatever the outcome of the Scottish referendum, I fear the consequence will be one of bitterness and resentment.
For this the blame must fall largely on Alex Salmond. Day after day Mr Salmond has given knee-jerk reactions to anything he doesn’t like – it is irrelevant, it is incorrect, it is a lie, it is driven by panic. There is never an acknowledgment that there are arguments in favour of continued union that deserve consideration and need to be answered.
The fact that independence would also sever links with the Welsh and Northern Irish seems never to be mentioned. Mr Salmond seems determined to foster the notion that the Scots are a subservient people waging a heroic fight for freedom from a hated foe.
There will be a price to pay for this. It is beginning to look as if the result of the referendum will be either acrimonious divorce or an equally acrimonious marital relationship. Can I appeal to both sides to do their best to exercise restraint and display a constructive spirit when the result is known?
Scotland is a weathy country. We have one quarter of all the renewable energy potential of Europe and we still have oil reserves. We have had enough of Westminster: they bailed out the banks as they didn’t regulate them properly in the first place; they went to war against Iraq against the will of the United Nations; and they also were found with their hands in the till in the expenses scandal. That’s why I’m voting Yes.
At this time of bitter conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine, combined UK energies must not be diverted by introverted dissension about our own differences. History will shame us if our island peoples put national self-absorption before international peace building.
Progress, wealth and health are created through partnerships: in businesses and councils, schools and clubs, the NHS, fair government and, of course, marriage. Compare the opposite: dictators, feudal lords, divorced states. Look at North Korea, a destitute and starving nation.
Neighbouring countries will question the Scottish separation campaign: ‘‘Why can’t you make compromises and hold the union together? Where will the young adults go for work? And where is the integrity with this proposed separation?”
A UK without Scotland will be a disaster, not only for Scotland but for all of us. An expensive, divisive scenario, especially when one compares other unions and their successes: East and West Germany, the United States of America, the Union of South Africa, the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia. The UK together stood firm and strong. Divided it will weaken, topple and fall. There is no benefit in separation, it will be a disaster for all.
It would be a tragedy if Scots gave up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to choose a Scotland where governments, of any political hue, would be more concerned about social and political justice for Scottish people than any London government would.
We should not be listening to careerist, synthetic Scottish politicians with whom Rabbie Burns might have recognised certain similarities with the earlier treacherous nobles, hastening him to coin the phrase: “We’re bought and sold for English gold, such a parcel of rogues in a nation.” We should listen to our heads, hearts and souls and not end up spending a lifetime lamenting the great opportunity we missed.
The whingeing from the Scottish nationalists about the so-called BBC bias is the way other groups have behaved whenever coverage is impartial. When someone accuses the Beeb of bias, what they usually mean is that they are angry the BBC isn’t taking sides in their favour. It was the same when Andrew Gilligan was attacked. All the BBC has done is to report the referendum, which I think it has done without any preference for either side.
Willesden Green, London
Setting aside all economic and legislative issues, the one thing that should concern the Scottish people about the potential secession of Scotland from Britain is this: with just over a week to go, polls suggest that the result is too close to call. Indeed, it is likely that the outcome will be a matter of 1 or 2 per cent one way or the other. This being so, Scotland could be in the position of opting for drastic upheaval against the wishes of, effectively, half its population. Surely there should have been built into the referendum protocol a requirement for a minimum two-thirds majority before its result could be the basis of such a break-up?
I am an elderly campaigner for Scottish independence. Many old people are worried about their pensions if we vote Yes, but I am much more afraid of a No vote, because of the opposition to welfare in any form by all Westminster parties. Over the years the state pension – classed as a "benefit" – has been eroded and gradually replaced by means-tested benefits.
Independence or not, London is legally obliged to pay the contributory pension, but not the means-tested parts. For future pensioners, the state pension may be means-tested, as recommended by the think-tank Civitas, or made conditional on workfare, as recommended by Lord Bichard in 2012.
In addition, Westminster is raising the pension age, so that, given high unemployment for all ages, plus age discrimination, many elderly people will find themselves on JSA, facing the same threats of sanctions as younger people.
In fact, Westminster will probably soon be claiming that ‘we’ can’t afford retirement at all as a right, but only as a privilege. In Scotland, the political culture is different. ‘Welfare’ is not a dirty word here. And crucially, we have influence over the Scottish government, but none over Westminster. For security and dignity in old age, vote Yes.
Our role in the death of Haines
Everyone is saddened by the death of David Haines, the British aid worker who was recently killed. However, we must put this horrific act in context, and look at our country’s role in this disastrous situation.
Our media seems to forget that this country, along with the US, invaded Iraq on a pack of lies 11 years ago. We are also still fighting in Afghanistan for some reason. In those two countries combined, around one million people have been killed by Western forces. Then you had Libya, where around another 30,000 people were killed. In addition to the destruction caused, we have also sold huge amounts of weaponry to that region. The result – chaos.
Let’s face it, in order to gain control of the Middle East, and its resources, we have trashed much of the Muslim world. And, if that wasn’t enough, we’ve seen Cameron and Obama back Israel’s recent slaughter of at least another 2,100 Muslims in Gaza. I am in no way justifying what Isis/Islamic State are doing, but I can understand how they’ve come about, and why they have a grievance with America and its allies.
So now David Cameron is trying to push for war in Iraq (partly because he failed last year to get one in Syria). We must not be fooled again, and need to oppose the killing of any more civilians there. We’ve done enough damage already. I say to our PM, why not try and save people in this country first, by reversing this coalition government’s aggressive privatisation of our NHS. That’s if he’s sincere about saving lives.
Will the NHS be protected?
David Cameron has promised that NHS Scotland will be “protected” from privatisation if there is a No vote. Will NHS England be similarly protected? Why should the NHS need protecting from privatisation? Could it possibly be to do with the potentially dire con- sequences to the NHS of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership?
Doctors fighting back at last
You report ‘Doctors to run against Cameron and Hunt’ (8 September). What a relief the medical world is fighting back at last. I hope they can slow down or stop the lunatic “market” between hospitals and other madness.
Berlusconi to chair ethics committee
Using the same thinking that led to Tony Blair’s appointment as Middle East Peace Envoy, perhaps the EU should appoint Silvio Berlusconi to chair an ethics committee, or Ireland should posthumously award Oliver Cromwell a humanitarian award. The reason groups like Isis form are obvious. They will continue to form as long as we provoke contempt from Islamic countries.