IN Tuesday’s National the former SNP MP Stephen Gethins outlines a framework for the “foreign policy” of an independent Scotland (“Independent Scotland must prioritise being UK ally”).

Two of the statements in his article give particular cause for concern. He says: “On Trident, it is unlikely that the UK would want to leave its entire nuclear arsenal on the territory of another sovereign state, and negotiations would be undertaken swiftly to ensure their removal as quickly as safety allows.”

That word “unlikely” is disturbing. The implication is that the hope of ridding Scotland of the shame and the risk of being both a launchpad and a target for illegal weapons of mass destruction will depend on how the UK Government is feeling at the time. This vague statement does nothing to dispel the worry that the government of a new Scotland might buckle and agree to a Guantanamo-type long lease for the Faslane/Coulport complex. What we need from those drafting blueprints for an independent future is an absolute commitment to the removal of these horrific weapons and an absolute commitment to making accession to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) an absolute priority.

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“Scotland’s strategically important location means these allies will be watching the debate carefully: Scotland would commit to early membership of Nato, and need to illustrate it takes threats to European democracy seriously.”

This comment raises the question of who our allies are. Do we restrict our friendship and co-operation to those countries in the Euro-Atlantic zone or do we take the opportunity of a fresh start to ensure that Scotland is a real and active part of the global community? Accession to the TPNW will be one sign of our global solidarity. We might also emulate Ireland, whose neutral stance has allowed a small state to play such a positive role in global diplomacy.

Further, right now both Sweden and Finland are engaged in a stand-off with Turkey over Nato membership and under great pressure to throw their human rights commitments under the bus. The same scenario plays around Scotland, Nato and nuclear weapons, especially since the Alliance’s most recent strategic concept ties it ever more closely to the deployment of weapons of mass destruction.

The Book of Proverbs says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. We need above all a vision that takes us out of the familiar but deadly ruts in the way we see our relationship with the world community. We have to do better than this.

David Mackenzie

AFTER reading Robbie Mochrie’s article on Milton Friedman I am puzzled as to what he is trying to tell us (We would be wise to reflect on Friedman’s freedom to choose, Jan 7). On the one hand the headline and some of the content seems to indicate he is a fan of Friedman but then he also points out the terrible things the “Chicago Boys” did to Chile at Friedman’s instigation.

Let us never forget that Friedman believed that the sole responsibility of a business was to make money for its stockholders. It had no obligations to its workforce, its customers or its suppliers because these impinged on its economic freedom. It would be hard to think of a more selfish and wrong-headed message with which to defend free-market capitalism.

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Friedman was not only against economic planning, he was hostile to regulation even though it is not possible to have a “free market” without some sort of regulation in the first place and that requires government “interference”.

Mr Mochrie seems to favour this economic freedom because it gives us choice. But does it? Ever since Thatcher we have been told there is no alternative to this kind of neoliberal thinking and for 40 years it has been doing terrible damage to most of society and to the planet. Neoliberal economic theory is the main reason why we have ever-growing inequality which leads to dysfunctional society, and why we are continuing to do so little to tackle climate change.

As an academic, Mr Mochrie must be aware that many universities will not teach anything but neoliberal economics. They may not all be as dogmatic as Patrick Minford at Cardiff but already there are mutterings among economics students about how narrow and restrictive their courses are.

The UK’s two main political parties are led by people who totally believe in Thatcher’s false belief that the macro-economics of a currency-issuing country operate in the same way as those of a household or a business. And the SNP leadership is very little better. So, not much choice there.

Economic choice has been one of the buzz phrases of neoliberals for 40 years but the reality is it only applies to some and they have been exploiting the opportunity it has given them.

Andrew M Fraser

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ALISTER Jack lied to Parliament on Wednesday. He stated there was not a majority in Scotland for the EU.

The last poll showed 72% of Scots wanted to be in EU. He should be recalled to Parliament to correct the record and apologise. We are getting to the stage when a session would be needed every week just to call out the lies told by this Tory Government.

Winifred McCartney