THE furore surrounding Alex Salmond and the “hard” versus “soft” independence factions are a major distraction from our long-term goal. Frustration at the lack of progress and the perceived injustice towards Alex underpins all of this.

While hard independence is a nice romantic concept full of die-hard bravado, the reality is far from the case. Have any of the frustrated ever actually stopped to think how that can be achieved, what it would cost in the short term and how – following a doubtful success – we can instantaneously create the administrative functions of a working independent state, gaining international recognition and support at the same time?

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Unlike countries like Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and many others, our systems are too intertwined with those of Westminster for anything other than an agreed separation. An orderly transition is of absolute necessity, particularly as we would not be able to guarantee support – whether or not under duress – from all of our devolved departments, still less invent a new usable currency at short notice.

We would need our own fully capable and independent police and military to have any hope of fulfilling that hard dream, along with a significant majority of a compliant public. For any chance of hard success, significant pre-planning of infrastructure and control, contingencies, resources, and a willing majority workforce are absolutely essential, and in fact a substantial military campaign plan on a par with D-Day, where along with the military effort significant systems had to be prepared for the newly freed European populations who crucially all wanted their freedom as well.

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There are lots of uncomfortable things surrounding Alex Salmond at the moment, with allegations going both ways, but pursuing this case gets in the way of our immediate goal, which is why the opposition are so intent on using it to undermine us, along with the out-of-context and flippant “once in a generation” comment.

Whether or not a hard or soft approach is the best has to take account of practical reality. We are not in a position to go for the hard option, not least because we have a shared land border and a tiny population compared to that on the other side. But we still, regardless of the hard activists’ views, have to convince a workable majority of our population to agree with independence.

Following independence we will have all the time we want for navel-gazing indulgences, but until then the efforts of all of us have to be expended in demonstrating the value of our independence case to everyone. Threats of hard action – especially as we cannot hope to follow through – will not do that and will negate all we have achieved to date.

Scotland has waited 300 years for this moment and a few more will not make much difference. Unlike the Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones, there are no saviours waiting over the horizon, and the last Highland charge at Culloden ended in failure too, especially as French support for the Jacobites did not materialise. We need to keep our heads attached to our bodies to have any hope of winning (keep oor heids).

Nick Cole
Meigle, Perthshire

AS America stumbles and Britain limps into 2021, Scotland should never forget Westminster’s lies and broken promises from 2014 through 2016 to the present. Following the independence referendum the “Vow”, promising devo max or near federal status, never materialised.

Boris Johnson may believe devolution has been a “disaster”, but the people of Scotland do not. In trying to curb this devolution experiment using the UK Internal Market Bill, this British nationalist Tory government will bring to an end their “precious” Union.

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On the Brexit saga there was definitely no “oven-ready deal”, the fishing industry (70% of which is Scottish) was set adrift and with Northern Ireland allowed to remain in the EU customs union, but not Scotland, support for independence continues to rise. And incidentally, Boris, where is the £350 million each week for the NHS? Sadly the reek of establishment corruption continues to pervade the Palace of Westminster.

Finally, in comparing the steady actions of the Scottish FM during the Covid crisis to that of the hesitant British PM, the divergence between Scotland and England continues in very different political, constitutional and international directions.

Grant Frazer

BORIS Johnson has appointed Alok Sharma as full-time president of the COP26 conference to be held in Glasgow in November of this year. He will be well aware that the previous 25 COPs have produced nothing but hot air.

After 20 years of talk, but no action, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was desperate so the 2015 Paris Agreement was dressed up as a huge success. It was and is, however, a colossal deception since the emission reduction targets agreed then puts the world on track for a catastrophic 3-4C increase in warming rather than the 1.5C IPCC has repeatedly said was essential.

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Only the UK, Scotland, New Zealand, France and Sweden have legally binding Climate Change Acts; the other 190 countries have only made promises which they have no real intention of keeping and are consistently being broken.

Alok Sharma should immediately advise these “promising” countries that they should not come to Glasgow unless they have introduced legally binding Climate Change Acts which combined will hopefully restrict warming to a maximum of 2C. The Scottish Government should quickly propose this and enjoy Westminster’s embarrassment.

Clark Cross