WHEN looking at the People’s Republic of China celebrating the return of Hong Kong, it is difficult not to remember watching from a hotel room in that former British colony the first results of Scotland’s referendum being announced.

Until my wife and I arrived in Hong Kong on September 19, 2014, we had no idea of the scale of pro-democracy movement, focused particularly on the area around Jubilee. Regardless of which international news programme we watched in our hotel room, we were treated to the sight of thousands of demonstrators waving Saltires as a symbol of their fight for democracy. Needless to say, there was no mention of this in the UK media.

Those Saltires are gone. I recall seeing a picture broadcast by the French of piles of Scottish flags dumped in and around bins. Democracy campaigners just couldn’t understand why anyone given the opportunity to take control of their own affairs — and with not a shot fired in anger — would refuse to embrace the opportunity. Family in Hong Kong would ask us “Why?”. We had no answer.

Reflecting on the results of the UK General Election, the general disdain that even voters who still support the SNP express here in Fife, a conscientious voter cannot escape the sense that a general malaise has descended over politics in both Scotland and across the UK.

The desire for independence has slowed to an apparent halt because that is all the desire for political change in Scotland appears to be about. In times of economic and social upheaval, voters cannot be blamed for hedging their bets against further uncertainty and the potential to be left in even more precarious circumstances. It should be remembered — and appears to have been forgotten — that independence for Scotland is about more than where voters look to see legislation created.

Put at its most simple, the Yes movement is failing to make headway because of language. Just as the social democratic left has struggled to present an economic case in recent decades as the market-driven right has applied a unit of cost to everything, so political debate in Scotland has been overridden by historical arguments. We are so used to hearing the words “nationalist” and “Unionist” we no longer interrogate their meaning.

Don’t look to a dictionary to ask what they mean but instead enquire what is meant by the person wielding those blunt weapons. We all know that a nationalist is someone who believes that the political decisions affecting people in Scotland should be made by a legislature that is here in Scotland and proportionately represents the interests of all voters, regardless of political loyalties. We also know that a Unionist is someone who demands we accept that the decisions which have direct, real consequences on our lives should be made by a legislature that is not directly answerable to people and is not bound by a written constitution but instead doffs its cap to whichever authority asserts a claim to lead it, whether it be lobbyists, an unelected House of Lords, an unrepresentative Corporation of the City of London or, indeed, an unelected head of state.

As we take our debate into future years, let us change its terms. We should never forget that the laws made by our legislative bodies, whether in Edinburgh or in London, only become law when they are signed on to statute by the head of state. So, instead of the redundant words “nationalist” and “Unionist”, let us instead use the politically — and, at least in the case of the DUP and the Orange Order, historically accurate — definitions instead: “democrat” and “monarchist”.
Andrew Bentley-Steed
Kinghorn, Fife


We must lean left to win indy support in our cities

ROBERT Anderson takes issue with the view that the independence movement needs to move left to succeed and, of course, his is an entirely coherent view (The National, Letters, June 28).

He makes clear his support for aggressively supporting the private sector and warns that he would not support a left-positioned SNP.

This is important as, in my view, the debate about independence and how to win it cannot be separated from issues of class, wealth and inequality. The majority of potential independence voters are to be found in urban Scotland and are likely to be drawn from working-class voters as was demonstrated by the Yes majorities in Glasgow and Dundee in 2014. Robert puts the often argued case that all this equality stuff can be sorted out after independence, but the reality is if we are unable to convince working-class voters that independence is in their interests then we won’t get independence.

Giving answers to issues such as poverty, poor housing, low pay and curbing big business must be key parts of the independence case.

Just offering a mini version of the flawed UK won’t cut it and radical change is central to a Yes victory.
Ken Ferguson

“WHAT are the Tories really up to with Brexit?” asks Robert Johnston (Letters, The National, June 21). The answer is complicated but simple. They want to have more control over us individually. They want to dictate to us what we can and can’t do. They have tried for years to get an “English Bill of Rights” through parliament instead of being held to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Every time they have tried it, the fact that the ECHR is in place has prevented it. If they get us out of Europe, this “Great Repeal Bill” that they are introducing will eradicate all the European laws that protect our individual rights.

I have no doubt that a new bill of rights will be introduced, but how watered down will it be? May already tried through this last election to introduce a Tory dictatorship with a majority so large that no party could oppose it. What they are planning must be drastically against the interests of the public if they need such a large majority to get it through. They didn’t succeed but are still trying to push it through, using the DUP to get their own way. And it has cost them £1 billion in bribes to enable it to happen. Who says Westminster politics are not corrupt? This latest Tory tactic would make many a third world dictatorship look squeaky clean.

We’ve already had a glimpse of May’s intent in the restricted rights she is prepared to offer European citizens who choose to work here. Quite honestly this is not a tactic that will encourage the inward migration of the foreign workers that we need to run our NHS or anything else, come to that. Of course, it’s not going to be long before the NHS doesn’t exist and we get a fully privatised health service.

The only good thing that’s likely to come out of all this is that people who were formerly against Scottish independence will have their eyes opened.
CJ Kerr

WHAT people listening to the Unionists’ comments on this last GE do not understand is this: the vote that took 56 SNP MPs into Westminster was, if not a protest vote, something very like it.

It was certainly a reactive vote, which led people like me, Yessers who up until then had never voted SNP for Westminster because there’s not a lot of point — except, well, to make a point. It was exceptional.

It was the first vote after indyref, and it was a reaction to being shafted by the media and by the Unionist parties. The fact it was a Westminster vote was, for one unique time, irrelevant. It did not and could not set a pattern for any future Scottish Westminster vote.

It was never going to happen again because the circumstances were not the same. The last Westminster vote was an ordinary Westminster vote. Many people who had never previously voted SNP for Westminster went back to their usual voting pattern.

You cannot compare the two Westminster votes and say that the SNP’s support has diminished. It shows only that one was a protest vote and the other wasn’t. In a way an SNP MP is as absurd as a Ukip MSP. That’s what this vote reflects.
Max Marnau