I WRITE in response to and support of Ruth Wishart’s column in the St Andrew’s Day National (St Andrew’s Day indy vow should be to get off bended knee, November 30). Ruth hits many important points right on the nail.

In particular, Ruth’s plea in her last paragraph, that today should be the one “where we get off our bended knee and raise the Saltire for a fairer tomorrow”, resonates with one of the pleas in my poem Mary Democrazy’s Longings, published in 2001 in the Scottish Poetry Library anthology of commissioned poems for the the opening of the then “new” Scottish Parliament.

Between 2003 and 2016, I lived in Spain. This gave daily opportunities to look at Scotland from a distance and in the context of Spain’s blend of democracy and bureaucracy. From arrival back in Scotland I undertook to read The National daily, to help me focus on what was “going on” politically years after the devolved government was established.

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Details apart, one thing that’s clear is just how widespread the influence of that special Scottish “tartan” known as obduracy is. And many of the year 2000’s issues are still “alive”.

It seems it’s no longer enough to have arguments, debate and dialogue, but that a key number of issues also demand the forming of issue-based organisations to promote and amplify points of view. While this can be a strength of democratic freedoms, it is also a danger. By this I mean that multiplication of different organisational “entities”, even when principled, well-intentioned and directed can have the unintentional (as well as in some cases, intentional) harm of causing more division than is creatively helpful. The age of social media makes all of this easier, more powerful and more accelerated.

For example, if four new “issue-based” organisations are formed, and we assume they talk to each other, we see the four, but we may not see (or refuse to see) the six inter-connected lines of minimal communication needed for dialogue and potential compromise agreements. If the new organisational voices number six, say, then the minimal number of inter-communication lines is 15, and so on, in a geometric progression. This is a simple synergetic principle, the integration of which, in my experience, is often not integrated into purposeful strategy. It can easily become an unbridled Not-Talk syndrome. It sounds a wee bit theoretical, but I’ve had experience working with such issues in complex organisational areas, where, as issues, they seem to “come out of the blue”.

All around the world we see the historical episodic horizons of freedoms and democracy being constrained and suppressed, not least by the colonisation of language and meaning.

In my day-to-day reading of The National over four years, in cafes, and other public spaces, I’ve had people move away from the next table when they spotted The National. A few have made comments along the lines that “you’re reading THAT SNP paper!” With the fewer who were willing to listen and speak more, it was clear that many people believe The National is “owned” and “run” by the SNP (I am not an SNP member).

One practical point that emerged for me from those impromptu discussions was that given all the issues around, why does The National not produce a clearly defined EDITORIAL COMMENT. It’s a lot to ask of your reader, to negotiate your challenging columnists, article writers, letters pages, politicians and others.

Some steerage and compass points, analysis and overview, would be helpful and may ease building bridges with those hesitant between Yes and No as well as other Scottish and world-related issues.

Neil mac Neil