SCOTLAND’S Future, the Scottish Government’s case for independence in 2014, was not a compelling read. I remember getting well past page 300 – twice – and not being able to bear the thought of the second half of it.

I remembered that feeling as I read Gerry Hassan’s article (Sunday National, July 26) on what what might be needed to assure No voters to vote Yes in a second referendum.

At least one member of his focus group made several references to the currency issue as a large barrier to supporting independence.

All the members of the focus group seemed to feel doubt and anxiety about the lack of a well defined plan in 2014. Scotland’s Future has proposed a currency union. But then Chancellor George Osborne had plainly set the UK Government against one. Many commentators thought that a separate currency would be more effective. Memorably, in his first debate with Alistair Darling, Alex Salmond was unexpectedly thrown by some simple questions about his plans.

I realise that after years of planning the route to independence, Salmond had concluded it was important to offer as much continuity as possible to reassure voters.

In 2014, he presented independence as if the only necessary changes would be to stop sending MPs to Westminster, and for the Scottish Government to work in partnership with the UK Government.

On the currency issue, this raised obvious problems. How could there be a currency union, when the larger of the two countries was so unwilling to be part of it? How would Scotland bring the UK to the negotiating table? And what freedoms would the Scottish Government need to give up? Was this really a route to independence?

It seems that in 2014, the members of Hassan’s focus were anxious that change would bring needless uncertainty. Today, they are still concerned that there is not a clear enough prospectus for independence, in which they can be confident that Scottish institutions will take on the roles and responsibilities of UK institutions smoothly.

Again, that seems reasonable. In 2014, Scotland’s Future included a programme for government after independence, even though it also planned that as soon as Scotland was independent, there would be parliamentary elections.

Trying to be reassuring, the government made promises which it could not keep.

The Brexit process has demonstrated just how complex it is to withdraw from long-standing, far-reaching agreements. The Brexiteers also seem to have failed to understand the objectives of their negotiating partners in the EU. Many of their frustrations have been the result of trying to achieve unrealistic outcomes.

In 2014, the Scottish Government seemed to go a bit Brexity. It abandoned gradualism, claiming that everything could be done at once. Perhaps the best way to reassure voters that change will be carefully managed is to make clear that independence is still a process.

The UK has long experience of dealing with the secession of its territories. In 1931, the Statute of Westminster granted the Irish Free State, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa almost complete autonomy within the Commonwealth. Complete independence followed years later in all of these countries.

When we reach the next independence referendum, there should be no question of a Yes vote meaning that Scotland will rush headlong into separation. Instead, the referendum should set the end point of a definite process. Rather than there being a leap to freedom, it should confirm finally a choice to use the freedom to achieve freedom.

Robbie Mochrie


COULD you please enlighten me if the following thoughts have any validity.

1: The Scottish people are sovereign, which means they can at any time choose the form of governance to suit themselves without reference to any body outwith Scotland.

2: The current Scottish MPs at Westminster are the direct constitutional descendants of the Scottish MPs who voted through the Treaty of Union in 1707 and moved to Westminster.

3: A majority of the current Scottish MPs at Westminster can vote to dissolve the Treaty of Union and reconvene the Scottish section of the Westminster Parliament in Scotland to represent the sovereign will of the Scottish people.

4: If item 3 is enacted, the said Scottish MPs have the constitutional duty to negotiate with the Westminster Parliament on the future relationship between Scotland and the rUK.

5: Given the global acceptance of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the choice of the sovereign people of Scotland to resume the status of Scotland as an independent nation would be universally accepted by the global community of nations.

Jonathan Southerington


IT was good to see David Lindsay’s classic science fiction novel A Voyage To Arcturus given an airing (Sunday National, July 26). This was a writer and a book we featured in Shoreline Of Infinity 3 in our ongoing SF Caledonia series.

As part of our research, we unearthed a number of unlikely Scottish writers who published science fiction. John Buchan, of 39 Steps fame, wrote a trans-dimensional story called Space (thanks to Paul Cockburn for alerting us to that one). J Leslie Mitchell wrote Gay Hunter, a time and space travelling novel, with as strong a female protagonist (the Gay Hunter of the title) as you would find from a male writer in the 1930s. Mitchell is more well known as his pseudonym Lewis Grassic Gibbon, the writer of A Scots Quair.

READ MORE: Michael Russell: Jackson Carlaw’s demise a sign of Scottish Tory death throes

In the 19th century we had George MacDonald’s fantasy Phantastes. MacDonald was said to have influenced Lewis Carroll, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien.

Our SF Caledonia editor Monica Burns wrote about a number of early Scottish writers, including Andrew Blair, May Kendall, Andrew Lang and Robert Ellis Dudgeon. It was good to have the opportunity to shine a little light on this quiet corner of Scottish literature, and was one of the reasons why we wanted to re-establish a science fiction magazine in Scotland.

Noel Chidwick

Shoreline of Infinity

APPARENTLY there is to be an investigation as to why England and Scotland were hit so hard by the coronavirus.

I would have thought that the reason was obvious.

Boris Johnson and his boss Dominic Cummings chose not to go for a serious early lockdown and instead decided to allow 20+ million people to fly into the country with no form of health checks.

This immigration issue is not a devolved matter and is solely the responsibility of the Prime Minister and his Westminster Tory Government.

I have all along been astonished that nobody in the media or in opposition parties seems to see this as a serious misjudgement on behalf of the UK Government.

Harry Key


THE articles by Richard Murphy (Scotland’s debt … and Scottish oil squandered by Westminster, July 30) were very instructive. Another perspective is in terms of revenue per head of population.

Since oil was discovered in the North Sea in 1969, up to 2015 the UK revenue generated was $470 billion (£367bn). As a Scot living in the UK, your share of that would be about £5500 per person.

Had Scotland been independent, about 80% of that resource would have been within Scotland’s geographical area; 80% of that revenue would be $399.5bn (£293bn). For those living in Scotland, that would have been equivalent to almost 10 times their share staying in the UK, about £54,000 per person.

That assumes that the resource was exploited in the way dictated by UK governments, including privatisation by a Conservative government which Scotland didn’t vote for. This resulted in $11 of revenue per barrel of oil equivalent (BOE). This compares with the $29.8 per BOE achieved by the Norwegian government, who retained public ownership. Had an independent Scotland exploited this resource as Norway did, the revenue per person would have been equivalent to almost 25 times your share staying in the UK at about £141,500 per person.

Norway has saved revenue in a sovereign wealth fund equivalent to about £114,500 per person.

The UK government decided not to set up a sovereign wealth fund and the UK national debt is equivalent to a debt of about £35,000 per person.

Scotland’s current economic position is due to our decision to remain in the UK and share our oil and gas and other resources, and due to the political decisions about exploiting these resources made by incompetent UK governments which we didn’t vote for. Independence is required to prevent the same happening with our huge renewable energy resources.

Jim Stamper


THE National’s front page yesterday mixes two stories of cronyism and stitch-up: ermine for Ruth Davidson with Douglas Ross eagerly waiting in the wings, and the SNP’s equally swift change of rules which prevents Joanna Cherry standing for Holyrood. Curiously, Ross’s weaknesses are fleshed out by Angus Robertson, the very person most likely to benefit from the SNP’s sudden change of heart, while Kevin McKenna pulls no punches in condemning the SNP move as a gift to the Tories.

READ MORE: Andrew Tickell: Is Douglas Ross any more than Ruth Davidson's sock puppet?

Isn’t it so typical of Scots that just when we are poised to regain control of our country, we shoot ourselves in the foot with pointless political rivalry? At this crucial time, with a No-Deal Brexit looming, we must keep our eye on the ball and focus on the goal of independence.

The present Scottish Government has gained a lot of trust and support in dealing with the pandemic. That’s excellent, but the SNP must remember that it is only indirectly a party of government: it exists to deliver independence for Scotland and good government comes second.

As the pandemic eases (hopefully) throughout the autumn and May’s election comes closer, the SNP must deliver clear manifesto commitments that will enable a legal referendum to take place when the time is right.

Our only trump card is our people’s sovereignty. A high SNP vote does not assert this on its own, since many

might vote for the only party that looks capable of forming a competent government.

The Scottish Parliament, with no powers over the constitution, does not automatically hold our sovereignty in trust, unless we specifically empower it.

Do not miss this chance, SNP.

Robert Fraser


HERE we go again, another Prime Minister stuffing the House of Lords with his cronies.

Looking at those chosen by the Boris Johnson we find Tory politician Ruth Davidson (who stood down as Scottish Tory leader to dedicate her time to her young son, but now feels she can do that from her post in the Lords), English cricketer and part-time peddler of foot massage machines Ian Botham, and even a spot for Boris’s brother. It’s not even surprising that, despite the stushie over Russian involvement in UK politics, the Russian-born media owner of the Evening Standard Evgeny Lebedev has been given a seat in the Lords.

At around 830 members, the House of Lords will have almost 200 more members than the democratically elected House of Commons.

Only China has a larger parliamentary chamber – although I’m not sure either that or the Lords could ever be described as democratic.

This makes a mockery of any claims that the UK could be seen as a modern democratic nation. The sooner we are out of the clutches of this archaic political Union the better.

Cllr Kenny MacLaren