LAST year’s referendum was a triumph of fear over hope. Over the last year we have seen signs that hope may yet win. The hope was that, as a nation independent of the remote Westminster governance, we could build a Scotland of opportunity for all, where everyone could contribute their full potential, however large or small, and receive back a full sufficiency.

Although hope lost to fear in the referendum, that was only one round in the fight. The next came in May of this year, when Scotland returned 56 of the 59 MPs as nationalists, each and every one elected on a message of hope.

In the constituency I live in, and I’m sure many others as well, this was not a campaign that beat down the incumbent. Here he received only 80 votes fewer than in the previous election. It was people who didn’t vote last time turning out in May that changed the result. Almost 5,500 more people voted here than in 2010.

Just as they did in the week before the referendum, the polls are again showing a majority of people in Scotland are in favour of independence. This is no surprise given the way the current government considers the referendum result a mandate to ride roughshod over Scotland. Change is needed. Social media is full of calls for change now. But change to what? Independence is the instant response many will give. They are probably right, the needed change will probably require independence. Independence though is not the end result; it is a single point on the pathway to it.

A major part of the victory of fear over hope last time was the uncertainties of hope. Things that were put off “to be worked out later” gave the fear campaign something to grasp on to. Not least among them was the question of currency. Since then what has been done about this, and all the other unanswered questions? Come the next round we do not want a rerun of the last one, or we will certainly end up with a similar result.

In recent days we have heard of a possible referendum in Scotland in 2021. The only way to win that is to learn from the previous one, to not give the fear mongers the gaping gaps they used to tear down our hopes last time.

What we need is a national debate to discover what an independent Scotland looks like.

This may result in something like a constitutional committee that first produces a document: “Our Hope for an Independent Scotland”, which could be a basis for the future constitution. By doing this we will give solidity to the hope.

Alan Bithell
Golspie, Sutherland

THE regressive, right-wing reforms in the Westminster government’s Trade Union Bill (Dave Moxham: A vicious piece of legislation that is a direct attack on workers’ democratic rights, The National, September 17) are as economically incompetent as they are unenlightened.

In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith observed: “We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject.

“Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform, combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate.”

In the 18th century, the founding father of modern free-market economics clearly saw dangers to the economy in creating imbalance between the power of big business and the collective rights of workers. Three centuries on, our current business secretary Sajid Javid and chancellor George Osborne evidently do not.

Sadly we should not be surprised by the attack on workers’ rights. It is a natural bedfellow to Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms.

Cameron and his senior ministers clearly lack Adam Smith’s recognition that: “What improves the circumstances of the greater part, can never be regarded as any inconveniency to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.”

Let us hope that Labour under Corbyn quickly reunites and joins the SNP in providing effective opposition to such damaging onslaughts on society.

Raymond Hunter
East Kilbride

CAN someone from the anti-fracking lobby explain why we support the recent discovery by Faroe Petroleum drilling in the North Sea or the West Shetland basin but are totally opposed to drilling for gas on the mainland?

I support their campaign which I think says it is wrong to pump chemicals into drill holes to increase production of gas, although I think that it would be useful for one drilling activity to be allowed in order to investigate and control all possible risks.

Naturally, we hope that we will use less fossil fuels in future, although I would wonder how many of the anti-fracking campaigners are still heating their houses with gas central heating.

It is also true that if Scotland wishes to have a serious input into the chemical and plastics industry then we may need some source of natural gas.

The campaigners are also targeting underground coal gasification. Where this involves thermogenic production of methane from underground coal seams I would share their doubts and would need to know a lot more about the possible dangers of such an activity, but in some parts of the world they are already investigating the possibilities of biogenic production of methane from coal-beds and this would not have any of the risks of thermogenic exploitation.

If we are going to be asked to ban fracking are we going to ban research into this development as well?

George Leslie

I READ David Bone’s letter (The National, September 18) with sadness and not a little anger. He, and people like him, have their head up some warm dark place. Why is waving your country’s flag crass?

It’s a beautiful flag, why shouldn’t we wave it?

It may be contrary to the result, but it was a stepping stone to eventual independence whether he likes it or not.

Nationalism is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “the desire by a group of people who share the same race, culture, language, etc to form an independent country”. What’s wrong with that? Most countries around the world would aspire to the same.

He says Westminster is portrayed as being a hive of heartless, war-mongering toffs. You mean they aren’t?

Will we “turn into a nation where a party with a divisive ideology dominate all layers of politics, where a cohort of politicians can do no wrong and where bonds of union and commonality are shattered for the sake of the Union Jack”? I replaced the word Saltire: Doesn’t that sound like the Tories at Westminster? If ever there was a one-sided view of life in this country, this is it.

Ian McDonald

TODAY’S anniversary paper brought back memories of the referendum energy during the summer of 2014. The outcome is a year past and the issue unresolved with the vote split now 50/50.

This is around the level recorded in polls prior to Gordon Brown et al’s late intervention where they tugged emotional heartstrings of a Union maybe lost and scared many pensioners.

The Vow – as always intended –was an empty vessel.

Older and some say wiser heads did vote No in large numbers, whilst younger people swelled the Yes tally. Is this because as we age, hope and thoughts for the future fade? Ironic really because the best gift to our children and grandchildren is hope, hope for a better future. That we can offer hope to the next generations should be the catalyst to vote Yes.

What would we older folk have given for the chance to build a new Scotland during the prime of our lives?

As we look back, so we look forward from where are we now to the country our children will build and our grandchildren inherit? Would you have chosen the way we live now? Or wished the older generation had voted Yes?

Let us trust the next generation to take care of the pounds or euros in our pockets, protect our pensions, provide the health service we shall surely need, educate and educate some more. All this they will gladly do, as we would have done given the chance.

Next time around, gift your grandchildren – Yes!

David Campbell

CURRENCY was a much over-played card in the 2014 indy referendum and continues to be dealt in trump fashion in debate about a second indyref.

Yet of all nations who have aspired to, and achieved, independence status over the last decades, Scotland is among those most spoilt for choice in terms of currency.

A cursory look at the nations acceding to UN membership since the first meeting in Central Hall, Westminster, London, of the UN General Assembly in January 1946, comprising 51 sovereign states, now risen to 193, will indicate the relative prosperity rating of Scotland. It should also put any currency concern in proper perspective.

Few, if any, of the UN member states had as much as a stumble over the matter of their currency situation in acquiring independence status. Doubtless many such states were without much choice in assuming whatever became their independence currency.

Again, a cursory look into the currencies of the world will show a plethora of such, and not one single country I know of would exchange their independent status for any gain in their currency-exchange status.

Ah, freedom is a noble thing, as the quote goes, and yes, it is the foremost of currencies.

Ian Johnstone


THE famous line from Hamlet, “the lady doth protest too much”, comes to mind when one listens to David Cameron’s frequent denunciations of Labour’s chances at the next election under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn .

It feels that every day since Corbyn’s election David Cameron, amply assisted by the Tory press office (aka The Telegraph, The Express and The Mail ) has poured scorn on the Labour Party’s election hopes, very often in quite outrageous language.

One has to wonder who they are trying to convince.

James Mills

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