Readers have their say on our ‘What next for our Yes movement?’ special

IN the aftermath of the divisive Westminster election, I have never been more glad that I am not a member of any political party. On September 19, 2014, it felt very “alone” to be in that situation, so I understand the reaction to run for cover under party political skirts, but it was desperately sad to see that happen.

The wrapping up of the Yes Scotland campaign, no matter how “proud” the board said they felt they were when they did so, had the sense of betrayal about it. OK, perhaps abandonment is a better word, but betrayal at a time of grief is how it felt to me.

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Part of the reason for that sad denouement was surely the far too close, at times symbiotic, connection with the governing party and the Scottish Government itself. On the crunch factor of the currency, for instance, it was the Scottish Government that dictated (metaphorically speaking, of course) the argument on offer, and it was a stupid argument, politically insensate and insane. Key people in Yes Scotland knew it to be insane yet felt unable to sufficiently voice contrary argument.

Therefore when it came to the debates with “the rude pointy man” (recently resuscitated as an alternative to the Ghost of Gordon Brown), it was the First Minister debating the Scottish Government’s proposal.

There was no-one from Yes Scotland debating any Yes Scotland proposal on the currency because there was no Yes Scotland proposal.

We needed the Yes campaign to continue to the present day and thenceforward. It was abandoned, and we were abandoned, because we were no longer of any use to the Scottish Government, which only wanted to capitalise on our support by ushering as many of us as possible, like little children ignorant of the big world of real politics, under the SNP’s Mairi Mhor-type voluminous skirts. Well you didn’t get me, pal.

Many of the people who took shelter under the SNP’s skirts have come out into the daylight and found it more appealing. All of us, I trust, would have supported Corbyn if we had lived in England, so it is no great surprise if many of our fellow travellers have voted for him.

We need now what we always needed and never had, an independent independence campaign. Dennis Canavan, thank goodness you’re back.

The Scottish Independence Convention is not a campaigning organisation, nor should it be, but I feel it needs to reconvene a public meeting as in January to discuss specifically the setting up of an independent campaigning body under its auspices. If the dream is not to die, it needs a life beyond and apart from the SNP and the Scottish Government.
Norman Easton
Glasgow

FOR me, in the articles by your various contributors, the most significant and heartening was from Dennis Canavan, one of the few truly “honourable gentlemen”

to have served Scotland and his constituents; an honest, committed and principled politician throughout his career, for whom I voted both as Labour and as an independent. I sincerely hope he will take a leading role in our future grassroots campaign.

The reduction in SNP seats at Westminster is being treated as a reduction in support for independence. It is in fact no guide at all. Independence brought the SNP many adherents from all parties in 2014, as the political means to achieve the goal. Many, in this General Election, knew that it was NOT about independence and so probably voted according to their basic party allegiance. Respect for Ruth Davidson and Jeremy Corbyn’s new direction may have influenced this, but they may still support independence when the time comes. How do we count these folk?

Many had a personal concern, such as farmers over EU payments and fishermen over the Common Fisheries Policy, and used the vote as a protest. Who knows their independence views? When they realise their concerns are not being accommodated within Brexit – witness Theresa May’s statements that “the deal must not disadvantage EU fishermen” – will that still seem a better deal than an independent Scotland that might negotiate with an EU that positively wants us in?

Besides, given that all three Unionist parties made the election about nothing other than an independence referendum, and still failed to win a majority of seats, that means that their principal, and only, policy failed to win majority support. So should they not be the ones taking their policy off the table? Meanwhile, I feel our best plan is to encourage the multi-faceted, non-political, grassroots campaign to continue and grow, with every committed individual aiming to convert at least one more.

We have lots of well-known and well respected grassroots activists, in addition to the likes of Dennis Canavan. Let them work on, bring back the Yes/Leavers and try to convert the No/Remainers, while the political wing that is the SNP keep on with improving how they do the “day job”. Let them also cut the feet from the Unionists, whatever the provocation, by refusing to discuss a referendum for which “the time is not right” yet, and instead consistently ask them to get back to that day job of explaining and justifying their policies.

After all, all Nicola has promised is a referendum a) after Brexit is negotiated and b) when people want a referendum, not now.
L McGregor
Falkirk

IN response to your request for responses to your writers’ suggestions, I offer these thoughts. Older folk (I am one) are concerned about their pensions. Not just the state pension but all those add-ons that have made the life of, say, the ex-civil servant, so comfortable. This matter is not mentioned by your experts.

A vague promise for the future by the Scottish Government or the DWP in London is unacceptable! Loud statements regarding Scottish pensions, backed by Scottish legalese, are urgently required.

This statement has to be issued, to begin the process of guaranteeing the future for the elderly in Scotland. They are important in the drive for Scotland’s self-determination.

Neither have your pundits mentioned currency in any meaningful way. With the recognition that funds in excess of £1 billion a day will flow into Scotland, it is incredibly important for the Scottish currency to be defined now, so as to allow authoritative bodies to comment.

A new Scottish pound, tightly linked to the euro, would quickly outpace the pale English one, significantly increasing Scotland’s purchasing power and providing stability. A rare commodity these days. Scots and the world need to see that there is expertise available to handle the new currency and properly manage incoming funds.

Finally, though there are many other areas to consider, your experts don’t even flirt with local government reorganisation.

The Scottish Government needs to lay out a plan for the improvement of democratic accountability throughout the country, by redefining the council tax and how it may be collected and spent.

Bringing back democratic accountability to the towns and villages in Scotland would set it apart from the main body of the UK.

All your experts have a clear emotional link to self-determination, as do I, but solid, clear-headed, arguable policies for handling independence are also required.
Christopher Bruce
Taynuilt

WE are tackling independence from the wrong angle. While the Unionists criticise it with abandon, they have nothing whatsoever to say in favour of the Union.

Ruth Davidson rabbits on about “failures” of the Scottish Government on education, the NHS and the economy, but she turns a blind eye to the equal failures of her Conservative government at Westminster on these topics, and others, too – that Westminster dog wags the Holyrood tail, and we have inadequate powers.

She boasts about her “achievements” at the ballot box when she shades past a discredited, and irrelevant, Labour Party in Scotland. She is adulated as the “New Queen of Scots” and as a potential future leader of the Conservatives UK-wide. She has the media eating out of her hand.

The SNP have to sharpen up their act. Instead of riding the punches from Unionists at Holyrood and at Westminster, they have to carry the fight to them. We should also be highlighting claims by factions south of the Border to the effect that England has got back its independence from the Brexit vote. The imminent collapse of the Brexit negotiations will bring independence to the fore in both countries, and that prospect should be exploited whenever relevant. It was shrewd of Nicola Sturgeon to tee up indyref2 for the end of the Brexit negotiations.

Labour left a UK deficit of £160 billion – our “share” of that was £15bn, and they referred to that as our deficit – what a nerve!
Douglas R Mayer
Currie

RESPONDING to the invitation to reflect on the views of authors of the pieces on independence in Saturday’s National I would make the following observations.

Yes there is much to consider – and timing is important – however, in recent weeks my belief in independence has been even more strengthened by watching two short pieces on television. The first was on Alba, where a native of Islay was explaining that the island was owned by three lairds.

I saw a resident mourn the fact that the whisky industry raised large sums of money (taxes going to Westminster) but the island was losing its young people due to a lack of jobs and housing, and infrastructure was declining.

In contrast I saw a news item showing the “independent” island of Eigg thriving as the population threw themselves into its regeneration. All families are involved in decision-making, and in this inclusive environment people are returning and prosperity is being shared.

Independence is a natural wish for a grown-up, confident nation.

Yes we will have to work hard to achieve it. Negative and bullying tactics by those who would oppose it must be countered.

But the goal is clear and all parties and groups must be embraced in the effort to build a strong, caring and prosperous country where all are valued.
I Gibson
Newburgh

OUR strategy for independence can’t totally rely on other parties making a hash of it. The SNP need to identify a more visionary progressive future. Easy to say, but difficult to deliver. But how can you become more radical and take all the people of Scotland with you? A very tough task. And that’s why I feel the SNP are treading water.

Maybe we have to fall one way or the other: at the moment there is one thing, though, that I think the Scottish Government could run at. While Theresa is preoccupied with leaving Europe and Jeremy is in no position to deliver his popular manifesto, Nicola could identify and roll out further progressive legislation as quick as possible, thus showing she means business and gain the admiration of all in Scotland.
Robin Maclean
Fort Augustus

I WOULD suggest the Yes campaign needs to emphasise policies which would improve the quality of the daily lives and the cultural development of people living in Scotland. The sort of policies which would never be advanced by Westminster.

For example: the homogenisation of education under a state system with no special incentives for private schooling; proposals for more progressive land use reform; more on increasing social housing stocks; encouragement for nationalisation where it is shown it will provide better and more cost-effective services than privatisation; proposals on how resources would be better directed towards communities outside the Central Belt; and a better directed programme of funding for Scottish media and arts.
Peter Gorrie
Edinburgh