Referendum: Your Say

Readers’ letters on the Scottish independence referendum.

Straight answers are needed

I have never written to a newspaper before but feel I have to air my views.

As a retired person, I have time to consider the importance of the vote on the referendum. I have listened, read and talked about this for months and have not been convinced by anyone as not one MP, MSP or ordinary working class person has come up with definitive answers.

If someone can give me straight answers to the following, then I would vote that way.

In an independent Scotland, will we be better off financially with lower mortgages, utility bills, fuel costs, road tax, council tax, rents, postal charges, personal taxation and car insurance and more importantly, what does it mean for the future population? If the answers are yes, then let’s go for it, however, if the answers are no, then it must be ‘No’.

In a number of years time when the oil has gone, and the grandchildren ask how did you vote in the referendum and what have you left us, will the answer be yes, you still have wind farms, whisky, haggis and Iron Bru as exports, but we are an independent country? If the answer was no, but we still have the pound, how will they feel, let down or elated?

Let’s seriously consider what we are leaving for the long term and the generations ahead, and let’s have some truthful answers from the people whom we elected.

Noel McGuile, Chirnside

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Change is inevitable

Whatever happens after September 18, the political and cultural climate in Scotland will change dramatically.

If voters choose independence then the change will be apparent almost immediately. Scots will hold their heads high confident in the knowledge that the future for them and their children is in a wealthy country, governed by politicians of their own choosing.

If people who are contemplating voting ‘No’ think that they are opting for the status quo, then they are in for a nasty shock. 60% of Westminster’s cuts to public spending have yet to be implemented, with consequent reductions to the Barnet formula block grant to Scotland. If these cuts turn out to be so severe that the Scottish government is forced to introduce prescription charges, costs for care of the elderly or university fees, then it’s too late to regret voting ‘No’.

When the vague promises of extra powers for the Scottish government fail to materialise, then it’s too late to regret voting ‘No’.

Now it may be that none of the above bothers you because you are wealthy and quite happy to see right-wing governments continuously at Westminster, be they Conservative, Lib-Deb or Labour. Possibly you don’t care that there are parts of Glasgow where the average lifespan is only 52 years. Maybe you are not concerned that working people, that is people in paid employment, have to resort to loan sharks/pay-day lenders and food banks like the one in Duns, just to keep the family fed never mind warm.

The UK is supposed to uphold Christian values, yet many people are prepared to accept Dickensian conditions for the poor but obscene riches for the privileged. Well, this is not the sort of society I wish to live in; one where the rich get richer and the poor are driven into deeper poverty. 300 years of the Union have brought us to this, a condition in which the ‘No’ campaign claims we are better together. Forget the Grimm’s stories of Armageddon painted by Project Fear, because all the creditable statistics demonstrate that Scotland will be a prosperous independent nation.

How could Scottish society after independence possibly be worse than under the policies of greed, selfishness, exploitation and sheer callousness enacted by London governments for nigh on 35 years?

Richard Walthew, Duns

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Independence - flight of fancy

Are you a nervous flier? Independence cannot be for you if you are!

Invited onto the inaugural flight of an airliner, here we sit on the runway and we are told as we are about to take off: ‘We don’t know if this bird can fly; we’ll have to finish building it in the air. The pilot does not know where he is going to land; we do not know if the tanks are full; there are no safety features and no parachutes; and, by the way, we have not worked out how much this will cost you!’

Why would anyone sign up for a flight like that? But that is what the SNP is asking us to do. Take them on trust? Not on my life!

Tim Culham, Greenlaw

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The greater of two goods

On Thursday, September 18, the Referendum on Scottish Independence will be held and it is a very important matter.

As a minister whose parish boundary is with England I have some people in my parishes who will definitely vote ‘Yes’ and some who will definitely vote ‘No’, whilst there are quite a few, I think, who still have not made up their mind, and how I vote is between me and the ballot box (it is a secret ballot).

It will be a difficult decision because it is not “the lesser of two evils” but “the greater of two goods”.

As a parish minister I have to think of all the other human beings in the parishes. No matter which way the vote goes there will be winners and losers, and I will try to comfort those on the losing side, but I will also try to help rebuild a community where both sides can work together for the benefit of community and the country.

A true democracy is where we accept the result even if it goes against us and live with it, and where the winning side thinks not only of their supporters but of all the people. We are fortunate that we live in a democracy in a peaceful country, we ought to be grateful for that.

No matter the result of the Referendum we all should continue to work together for the good of the community, the country and the world.

Alan C.D. Cartwright,

Minister of Fogo and Swinton with Ladykirk with Whitsome with Leitholm.

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Opportunity of a lifetime

Our destiny stretches out before us – like a huge roll of blank paper for those of us privileged to live in Scotland to inscribe thereon our individual and collective futures – provided of course we take the ‘opportunity-of-a-lifetime’ to vote ‘Yes’ for independence.

If we don’t, then the rut we’re in will get a whole lot worse. George Osborne’s promised £25 billion cut in welfare (in addition to what we’ve already had) will see hundreds more of our children off to bed each night with hungry stomachs, not to mention their parents misery and nerve-racking fear as they struggle on tight-fisted wages, or none.

We are a hugely rich nation blessed with a diverse and successful economy and with all the trappings of an advanced civilization against a backdrop of often breathtaking beauty, peacefulness, cooperation, creativity, diversity and discovery. Yet we have long-since allowed ourselves to be treated, not as an equal partner within the UK, but rather as a second-class entity whose UK role is primarily to continue the tradition of keeping Westminster’s coffers filled to the brim.

How else, in probably the worst recession, could they afford bonuses for failed bankers, not to mention astronomical bail-outs, a House of (unelected) Lords at a daily ‘pop-your-head-round-the-door’ cost of £300 per head, a super-fast train costing billions to save you 20 minutes off your journey – provided you don’t start from further north than Birmingham.

And of course our hospitality has been consistently abused by forcing nuclear weapons on us which have no practical or psychological value whatsoever – in fact worse than that; poses a threat only to ourselves with the danger of terrorist access, human or computer error, or a direct hit on its installation.

The core question that most concerns people is; ‘Can we afford independence’? – that means pensions, free health care, free education, free prescriptions, free elderly care, etc.

Ironically, that question is not only answered in the affirmative by the ‘Yes’ campaign but, from the outset, by the leadership of the ‘No’ campaign as well.

David Cameron said he had no time for anyone suggesting Scotland didn’t have what it takes to be prosperous and successful as an independent nation. As far back as 1975 a report commissioned by the then government resulted in Professor Gavin McCrone stating; “An independent Scotland’s budget surpluses, as a result of the oil boom, would be so large as to be embarrassing”.

The report was classified ‘secret’ for 30 years. The pro-Union economist Professor Brian Ashcroft calculated in July 2013 that had Scotland been independent since 1981, it would by now have a basic budget surplus of at least £68 billion. The real figure, including interest, etc. would likely be an ‘oil fund’ of well over £100 billion.

The big oil companies are currently making new investments to the tune of millions in the North Sea – not, you may be certain because they lack financial or geological ‘savvy’, as the ‘No’ campaigns propaganda would have us believe, but as a direct result of vast new discoveries indicating another 100 years, or more, of extraction yet to come.

Vote ‘Yes’ for independence and the vast revenues involved will benefit all of Scotland (with its trickle-down effect into England) – not only to the advantage of the current generation, but for many yet to come. If you vote ‘No’, you’ll consign our wealth to the hands of a tiny, super-rich, minority whose gluttony for power, luxury, wealth and privilege knows no bounds. The choice on Thursday, September 18, is yours to make. Make it wisely – vote ‘Yes’.

Lawrence McDonald, Coldingham

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Harmony is so important

It is my growing fear and concern that the Yes campaign is passing us in the polls that has compelled me to write to you.

I would like to highlight one area of vital significance. As we look around our world we see wars and power struggles killing thousands of innocent people and making even more homeless, living in unspeakable conditions in refugee camps.

Nearer home in Russia we see the same power struggles going on with fragile ceasefires breaking down, people losing loved ones and fleeing their homes that are no longer safe places to be. We see the most barbaric atrocities being carried out in the name of religion.

All of this is the result of division, between nations, leaders creeds and cultures. Why then are we even contemplating making a decision that would result in division here in Britain where we live in relative peace, safety and comfort, where we have freedom of beliefs and speech?

Britain is now under ‘severe’ threat of terrorism from an extremist group. Would an independent Scotland have the knowledge and resources to keep us safe and secure if this should occur here?

Yes, there are issues that need addressing to bring about changes but that can happen without the bitterness of divisions within families and communities that a break away from the United Kingdom would cause.

Please think very hard before you vote in a week’s time, because the harmony safety and security of ourselves, our children our grandchildren and our friends depends, not on division, but in the unity of staying and working together to create a more peaceful and fairer place in which to live.

Heather Johnston, Coldingham

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Thinking of Mr Salmond

If Mr Salmond’s bid for independence is successful I shall, of course, be thinking of him, along the following lines.

When the oil he thinks is there turns out to be less than he thought, I shall think of him. When the oil that is there drops more than 25% in value due to fracking, or developments elsewhere, or international markets, I shall think of him.

When there isn’t enough money to pay the NHS government employees I shall think of him.

When those who lose their jobs because of his policies, and can’t find a suitable alternative, I shall think of him.

When there isn’t enough money to pay my state (my only) pension, I shall think of him.

When my tax rate rises to cover the shortfalls in you plans, I shall, obviously, think of him. When his claims about the future of our free higher education don’t work out quite the way he said; when terrorists find our country a great place because we can’t afford good enough surveillance; when immigration controls are placed on every road that crosses the Border; when Scotland gets a poor credit rating among the world’s economies because it couldn’t pay it’s debts; when the major investors in manufacturing don’t take the risks he does, I shall think of him.

I shall think of him and wonder what became of his ‘plan B’ in each or any of these scenarios.

I shall wonder why so many people trusted him when he claimed he could do so much better than Westminster.

And I shall wonder how long he will go on singing Flower of Scotland?

Bill Landale, Ellemford

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No answers from SNP

The SNP have admitted that a boost to the Scottish economy of £5 billion with a yes vote in the referendum is a figure plucked from the air.

How many other figures are guesswork?

There is no answer to cost of Scottish army, navy or air force; No answer to how much it would cost for SNP’s enhanced OAP pension or utility charges; No answer to where there would be jobs for redundant nuclear submarine personnel or Clyde shipworkers when the yards close.

There could be a few jobs on the Scottish/English border to stop illegal immigrants - hey ho silver!

Only a fool would buy a pig in a poke.

Robert Dickson, Coldstream