IN her short letter in the National on Wednesday, P Davidson refers to the SNP as “the one party big enough to negotiate our independence”.

The idea the Scottish people need to “negotiate their independence” is perhaps the main obstacle to us achieving that politically and economically.

Why do people assume the Scottish people need to negotiate their independence? Who do they have to negotiate with for their independence? Do they need to negotiate their independence from Westminster?

If indeed the Scottish people were required to negotiate their independence from Westminster we would be in a sorry state. No single political party in Scotland would ever be able to do it, even if every adult in Scotland was a member, because no UK Government could, or would, ever negotiate away their economic hold over Scotland.

Let’s be realistic, we need to address the real situation we are in, not some imagined political scenario.

As we all know, but many seem to ignore, the Scottish people are sovereign. That is not just an empty slogan, it is a fact in constitutional law. Since this is the case, we can’t negotiate our independence unless we negotiate with ourselves because we are the sovereign power.

We can, of course, debate how we can exercise that power, and through which institutions it can be expressed, but we can’t be given our independence by anyone else or negotiate for our independence. We, as a sovereign people must take our independence as, of course, other nations have done.

When we take our independence, probably through the Constitutional Convention which the SNP have agreed to establish, we will need to negotiate our relationships with other parts of the UK and with Europe and the wider world.

In economic terms, we are the wealthiest nation per capita in the UK and among the wealthiest per capita in Europe, so our position in any negotiations should be a strong one.

When we find the courage to do this we will have no difficulty negotiating with the UK.

Indeed it will be desperate to get a comprehensive economic agreement with us, because it needs Scotland’s resources far more than we need its.

When Scotland does eventually take its independent political path, it will not be a one-party state, so while the SNP are very important, indeed the most important political party in Scotland, they will not be able to exercise Scottish sovereignty without the support of the majority of the Scottish people and this will include other political parties and organisations in addition to the SNP.

Andy Anderson


AS the number of Palestinians murdered by Israel’s assault on Gaza surpasses 9000, I watched an interview with the American author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates.

In the summer, he visited the occupied West Bank. He was prepared to accept that the Palestinian/Israeli conflict was complicated but quickly realised it wasn’t. He saw that the Palestinians were inhibited in all aspects of life – housing, work, voting, free movement. He saw them humiliated on a daily basis by the occupying power.

As an African American, he instinctively understood the amorality of a nation-state holding a people in a situation where they have no rights and yet declaring that state to be a democracy. He recalled that Martin Luther King Jr devoted his life to fighting against segregation and realised that the Palestinians in Israel, a segregated nation, were engaged in that same fight.

He recognised that Israel’s excuse to justify Palestinian oppression – a security measure – was the same one southern states used to justify Jim Crow laws, and that plantation owners used to violently put down slave revolts.

He understands the rage and sense of humiliation that comes when a people are subjected to oppression and genocide and the sense of abandonment when the world has turned its back on them. Jews understand this. As do African Americans, Native Americans, Armenians, Tutsis, Maoris, Aborigines and so many others.

Above all, Ta-Nehisi Coates knows that violence corrupts the soul. He worries for the souls of those complicit in dropping bombs on children and refugees and who can still sleep at night.

If Israel is to ever know peace and security, it must abandon its system of ethno-supremacy and forge a state where Jews, Muslims and Christians can all live together.

Leah Gunn Barrett


IN September 1982, the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon were under the control of the Israeli army. The Israeli defence minister was Ariel Sharon.

The Israelis had invaded southern Lebanon to nullify the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which was regarded as a risk to their northern border. They were assisted by Lebanese Phalange militia, who were sworn enemies of the PLO.

On September 15, Sharon released a statement wrongly attributing the killing of the Phalangist leader to the PLO. The same day, the Israeli army opened the gates of the camps to the Phalange. Over the next three days up to 2400 Palestinian men, women and children were tortured, raped and slaughtered by the Phalange while the Israeli army stood by. The Israeli army was itself implicated in the “disappearance” of hundreds of men of fighting age.

The Kahan Commission set up by the Israelis in the aftermath of the slaughter condemned Sharon for his part in it. He went on to become Prime Minister of Israel.

No-one was prosecuted. There were no calls from the West to identify and punish those responsible. No retribution was visited on Israel. No Israeli children were murdered as they slept.

Nothing can excuse the events of October 7 but nor can the double standards and hypocrisy of Western nations in relation to the horrors that Israel has and continues to be responsible for be excused either.

Chris Ewing