I CAN see to some extent why JF Davidson wants to impose residency requirements in the next indy vote (Should all those resident here get an indyref vote?, The National, March 27). At least his or hers are not as ridiculous as one reader who wanted a 30-year residency requirement (I would qualify on Friday next if 30 years were the rule).

Why set it at three or five years? It would exclude, for example, students from the rest of the UK, but it would also exclude people who have come here on shortish contracts to work and who are paying their taxes. Why should they be excluded? Have they not earned the right to vote?

It would not be a great advert for Scotland to say to outsiders, yes, come here, be part of our culture, enrich our society, pay taxes, but get a say in the future – no chance.

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It may be the case that 72 per cent of other UK-ers voted to stay in the UK. I think part of the reason for that was that there was too much we did not make the case for, and the narrative was run by the Unionist media.

I found it discouraging at my work that many people, rUK and Scottish, did not consider the facts and the Unionist bias. They let themselves get spoon-fed by the BBC. If they were better informed, or we engaged with them more, maybe they could be won round, rather than just excluded from the vote because they are going to vote the wrong way. I still hear Scots saying, “Yes, I’m a proud Scot, but I’m British, and I don’t want independence because... Because what? Just because...?

It is a sad fact that, as long as they are doing okay, too many Scots did not care that much that Scotland is hamstrung because of Westminster policies, and that Scotland’s poor, ie, their own countrymen, are completely marginalised. Can we also exclude from the vote the landowners of the great estates who, I believe, almost to a man, will have voted to stay in the UK?

I am interested to see how any of these residency rules would be applied, and who would do it. I presume it would be hard-pressed local government officials, who already have too much to do.

The spanner in the works is, of course, that it would mean in fact that everyone would have to prove their residency, cos how do you know if the family down the road has really lived there all their lives? How do you prove that you were NOT living elsewhere five years ago? And can you imagine how bogged down it would get?

The other big problem with it is that excluding swathes of voters goes to the democratic legitimacy of the result of any vote. Even with a majority, it would undermine the new Scotland if groups of voters were excluded. After all, we slated the UK government for excluding EU nationals in Westminster elections and the EU vote. How can we then do the same?

While instantly beguiling as a solution, we would really just be scape-goating one group which was not the only one to blame for the lost 2014 vote.

Julia Pannell

RBS are to close many local branches. It makes me despair that a government-owned company is closing down public services and forcing employees into unemployment.

Closing banks in rural communities has a devastating effect on the local economy and denies access to what should be a community service. But it is the closing of banks in well populated communities like Kilsyth (12,000) and Denny (8,000) that begs the question: what about our ageing population in those villages?

These villages have house building going on that will swell the population, yet services are being scaled back, which makes no sense.

Catriona C Clark


Why do we accept an estimate for economic forecasts?

THERE is a TV advert doing the rounds just now where a bride walks into a bridal shop to buy a wedding dress. In the advert the shop assistant takes her shoes off, stands alongside the customer and tries to estimate the customer’s height – and gets it wrong. The advert highlights the problems of estimating something when you could have an exact measurement, and promotes the use of smart meters for our utility bills. It’s a clever advert highlighting the problems of basing a big decision on an estimate rather than using the exact figures.

This advert is also useful for highlighting the discussion around the economic case for Scotland’s independence. The figures from the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) are quoted without any reservation from the Unionist side as if they have some accuracy.

In contrast, those of us supporting independence have noticed the flaws of GERS reports when it comes giving an accurate assessment of Scotland’s economy.

The recent comments by Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK have helped to throw some light onto the failings of using GERS as an indicator of Scotland’s economy. Any economic assessment would have to be more accurate than the GERS reports where 25 out of 26 of the main indicators are mere estimates.

Isn’t it ironic that via TV advertising we’re being told to switch to smart meters to save us money on our utility bills but when it comes to our economy we’re left to rely on guesswork?

Councillor Kenny MacLaren

WHILE no two events are ever the same, discernible patterns in media reporting cans be detected. For example, there is a great synergy between the reporting of the GERS figures by the Unionist media and the way in which they reported on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction 15 years ago.

In the State of State document it concludes that GERS data is produced only for Scotland as part of the UK and does not model scenarios for an independent Scotland. This has not stopped a succession of Unionist commentators and politicians appropriating the stock phrase “£15 billion deficit” loudly and relentlessly to argue against independence.

A similar pattern occurred when the media used stock phrases to sell the Iraq war rather than challenging Tony Blair. The academic Glen Rangwala analysed the speech that Tony Blair made when he presented his case for war to Parliament in 2003, writing that: “Blair’s first piece of ‘evidence’ was about a substance that the weapons inspectors consider to have been no threat since early 1991. Tony Blair didn’t tell the MPs that.”

Blair’s falsehoods could have been exposed if journalists had done their job of challenging instead of parroting his lies.

This was part of a continuous pattern. Blair’s men such as John Reid and Jack Straw were wheeled out night after night to assert that Saddam Hussein had thousands of litres of deadly Anthrax that were unaccounted for. Not once did an interviewer respond with the basic facts: that Iraq is only known to have produced liquid bulk anthrax, which has a shelf life of just three years. The last known batch of liquid anthrax was produced in 1991 at a state-owned factory blown up in 1996.

Scott Ritter, who oversaw Iraqi WMD disarmament, stated that if Iraq had tried to reconstitute any WMD production it would have been detected by what was the most sophisticated form of monitoring in history.

Whether it comes to war or independence the message is absolutely clear. The Unionist commentariat will give the line dictated by Westminster. It simply does not occur to them that what they are being told is an untruth.

Alan Hinnrichs

WILL Theresa May still consider President Trump a gentleman after he forces the UK to accept a trade deal involving GM crops, meat containing growth hormones, and access to our NHS by American healthcare firms in a post-Brexit trade agreement?

On the other hand, she might not be bothered, which is even more worrying.

Ann Rayner