Sir: James Fenton's article on Scottish devolution is one of the more sensible and sensitive ones I have read to date ("The time is right for a velvet divorce", 15 May). His likening of it to a trial separation is indeed magnanimous, implying as it does a re-acceptance into the Union if it all goes horribly wrong. I fervently hope that we will never need to call on such generosity when devolution comes.
Britain should be regarded both as one comparatively young nation and three (or four) much older ones, with a dynamic relationship between the two that changes according to the demands of the times. It seems quite clear that the fundamental reasons for Scotland belonging to the Union in the first place are no longer valid. There is no common enemy threatening our existence and thus no requirement for military alliance. Britain's commercial and imperial pre-eminence has faded, and the trivialisation of the monarchy in recent years has removed it as a focus for national unity. Even the bond of a common religion and the associated Protestant work ethic is of much reduced significance.
We should not be surprised, therefore, if older loyalties have returned to prominence. The Scots, quite rightly, see the huge political and economic dividends of independence within a federal Europe as a more profitable strategy for the future. As ever, there is a strong undercurrent of pragmatism in our resurgent nationalism.
STUART W. CRAWFORD