THERE were many very positive messages contained within Jamie Brotherston’s Sunday National article ‘Ready when you are, Nicola’ (January 20). The dysfunctional Westminster government has shown such contempt for the needs of the Scottish people that it is now likely that Scotland will regain our independence within the next few years.

Not only do we require clarity on what the strategy for indyref2 will be, but we also require clarity on what we are voting for in independent Scotland. This question has still not been answered clearly.

The Scottish Government’s proposal for an interim constitution is for a transfer to Holyrood of a similar system of control as that in use in Westminster. Once that system is in place it will be very difficult to replace with a democratic system – see what happened in Iceland.

If we start now, we have the time for the people to have a public debate on the content of a provisional constitution for independent Scotland. This will not only allow people to express their ideas about what sort of Scotland they want, but also give them an awareness and understanding of the institutions required for governing their country as well as spelling out the duties, rights and responsibilities of both governed and those governing.

Among the issues that come to mind is the lack of accountability of our representatives to their constituents rather than to their political parties. There is also our system of over-centralised, two-tier government that is the least democratic system in Europe outside the UK.

Additionally, is it not time for a more radical way of selecting our representatives and what they are elected to do? Surely it should be for constituents to select the candidates and set out manifestos and then for the candidates to identify how they will achieve the content? Let’s start thinking ahead about what we want to hand over to our children.

Robert Ingram
Chair, Centre for Scottish Constitutional Studies

AS someone involved in the process from the 1960s onwards, we did not get to our present Scottish Parliament by waiting for a comfortable consensus (Salmond: now is the best time for indy fight, January 21). Radical change is never comfortable because there are too many vested interests. We kept actively campaigning and took chances when they came.

Despite winning the 1979 referendum, nothing was delivered because parliament had “taken back control” and amended the bill to require a referendum with 40% support of the electoral roll. Always remember that setting precedents for parliamentary control does not necessarily mean fairer or more progressive decisions. For most of the 1980s the political focus for most Scottish voters was getting Thatcher out of power as fast as possible. They certainly did not “wait patiently”: that is a complete distortion of the Scottish mood. The cross-party Campaign for a Scottish Assembly had prepared proposals for a constitutional convention but it was only when Thatcher won again for the third time despite Scotland returning 50 Labour MPs that we felt that there was just a chance of getting political parties and some civic organisations to participate. It was far from certain that it would work. It did, and the proposals it produced are largely the basis of the Holyrood Parliament.

We need to be ready to take our chance when the best opportunity comes, but “being ready” is crucial. We need to have and to promote a very clear plan for transition to independence. CommonWeal has done much of this work in its “How to Start a New Country” report and will soon publish a Scotland Withdrawal Bill. But this has not been debated by the SNP never mind adopted. Instead of promoting Scotland’s opportunities and choices with independence irrespective of what England decides on Brexit, we have the SNP appearing as just another faction in the Westminster-focused debate.

The Scottish Independence Convention’s new campaign organisation, which will be launched in April, will give us additional capacity to build support in this period of UK failure and to accelerate demand. But do not expect the British state to give up in a cosy and consensual way its control of Scotland’s resources, its military bases, its fiscal and monetary powers over us.

Isobel Lindsay

I AGREE with Barry Stewart (Letters, January 21). We need to be correct in our terminology. The United Kingdom is not a country but a state (in both senses of the word) made up of four countries; five if you count Kernow. Anyone (not just politicians) referring to the UK as a country should be challenged. I agree that this is Scotland not Scotshire. Nationhood is a bit more problematic as it could be argued that the British voted themselves into existence on September 18 2014. However we did not give our consent to be included in that description.

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WE’RE told often enough “17 million voted to leave”. We aren’t so often told “16 million voted to remain”. Why? It sounds too much like a mere wobble – and wobbles correct themselves in time. The winners of this wobble want to treat a wobble as if it had been a topple. Topples stay toppled. So they ask of a wobble all that a topple provides – a list of irrevocables: no more single market, no more customs union, and so on.

But what happens when a populace is diagnosed with a wobble and you treat it for a topple? You land up with a patient who’s had a wobbly limb amputated, with a being whose life has been unjustifiably, irremediably ruined and will never forgive you for it. Which is what will happen if you make a 2% win the excuse for 50% surgery. You will never be forgiven. Nor should you ever be.

Bill Brown