Letters: Yes or no, we can’t vote without the facts

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While reading George Robertson’s letter (News, April 17) on his vision of a Tory-free independent Scotland, I was reminded of the phrase ‘never say never’.

It would be naive to make so important and irreversible a decision on such a premise.

Socio-economics can change in a generation and anything is possible. After all, it is within living memory that there was a strong Tory representation in Scotland.

As for his castigation of the Lib Dems for entering a coalition with the Tories, he has failed to remember that in 1974 the SNP made an informal approach to the Heath government suggesting an alliance to keep them in power and in 1979 it was the SNP who, using Mr Robertson’s words, ‘got into bed’ with the Tories and voted with them to bring down the Callaghan Labour government that heralded in the Thatcher years.

As for the ‘Project Fear’ phrase, this is becoming a tired mantra. It has been difficult for the Better Together campaign to bring a sense of reality to the wildly over optimistic assumptions of the Yes camp without sounding negative.

Any big decision and plans will have drawbacks and alternative plans. However, reading the Scottish Government’s White Paper and listening to their pronouncements on everything from pensions, EU membership, currency union, tax, business, to welfare etc, there is not one word of caution or possible alternatives.

According to them everything will run so smoothly and seamlessly that within 18 months of a ‘Yes’ vote we will not even notice the transition to independence except that we will be richer and happier.

Is it not surprising that anyone expressing a doubt or questioning the wisdom of this will sound negative.

However, with the discussion on greater devolved powers for Scotland and a possible federal UK political system evolving from this, a more positive case for remaining as part of the union is now beginning to emerge.

Before we make such an important decision in September we need to be given all the facts and opinions, good and bad.

Paul Lewis, Guardwell Crescent, Edinburgh

Moving weapons south won’t make us any safer

DAVID FIDDIMORE (Letters, April 17), claims that we don’t want or need nuclear weapons. I also abhor these terrible weapons, but simply moving them south of the border would not lessen the risk of us suffering a nuclear attack.

If, as intended after separation, we remain part of NATO then we will be committed to the principle of nuclear deterrence.

As a consequence, if a NATO country was threatened with nuclear weapons, then we would also be threatened.

Therefore, losing thousands of jobs neither lessens the risk nor improves our moral position.

The way to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons being used is surely to continue the process of international negotiations to gradually reduce the number of weapons by mutual agreement.

John Higinbotham, Bruntsfield Gardens, Edinburgh

Hypocrite Hammond has done damage

Philip Hammond’s intervention in the independence debate is more than a little hypocritical, especially given the reality of the damage the defence cuts inflicted by Westminster have had on Scotland.

Decisions at Westminster have seen Scotland stripped of military assets and serving personnel handed redundancy notices, with more than 11,000 defence jobs lost in Scotland in the last decade.

Yet while all of these deeply damaging cuts have been inflicted by Westminster, every one of the Westminster parties remains committed to wasting £100 billion on replacing Trident.

The first duty of any government is to protect its citizens, but the reality is that under the Union, Scotland has already been stripped bare of conventional naval capability by Westminster’s cuts.

There are no ocean going surface vessels based in Scotland and no maritime reconnaissance aircraft – that is an extraordinary and unacceptable gap, which has seen ships dispatched from the south of England to the Moray Firth in response to Russian naval activity.

That gap also means the UK is having to rely on NATO allies to help cover routine maritime patrol duties – a responsibility an independent Scotland will take more seriously.

The only way Scotland will be able to adequately defend itself is through independence, with a stronger armed forces north of the border.

These forces, co-operating with those from the rest of the UK in areas of mutual interest, will collectively strengthen, not weaken, our impact.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

School should be the safest place of all

as a former pupil at Liberton High, it saddens me greatly that an innocent child should die in what should be one of the safest environments a child should find themselves in – school.

I left Liberton in 1977 and I am sure even that long ago everyone there will remember a certain strict, tough PE teacher demonstrating his strength in a show of power by moving these stupid walls with his brute strength.

It also surprises me to hear from my own son who left in 2007 that the walls were still moving then.

This is a tragedy that could and should have been avoided. Forget millions on trams and statues, keep our kids safe.

Arnie Cartwright, Gilmerton, Edinburgh