I WOULD like to clarify one point in Ade Hegney’s excellent letter in Friday’s The National. It concerns the point raised by the phrase “since the small majority of citizens decided to commit the UK... [to leaving the EU]”.

It is not clear what definition of “citizen” is being used here but it is a reasonable assumption that those whose names were on the electoral register in 2016 could, for the purposes of this question, be classed as citizens. There are therefore 46,500,001 people involved. The total who voted to leave the UK was (according to the Electoral Commission) 17,410,742 – this representing 51.9 per cent of the valid votes cast. However, the total number of voters casting a vote represented only 72.2 per cent of those on the register and therefore only 37.4 per cent of UK citizens actually voted to leave the EU.

The question could be taken a stage further to consider the 16- to 18-year-olds who were (wrongly, in my view) excluded from the referendum by the British Government. I have not been able to find the total number of these, but in 2016 there were 3,600,000 people in the 15-19 age group (Index Mundi Demographics) and it would be reasonable to make an estimate of 1,800,000, bringing the total to 48.300,001 citizens. It is impossible to say accurately how they would have voted but, in a poll of 12,000 voters conducted by Ashcroft and Culwick on referendum day, in the 19-24 age group, 73 per cent voted to Remain, the highest proportion in any age group. If this had been replicated by those immediately below in age, even assuming that only 72.2 per cent had actually voted, it would have added about 950,000 “Remain” votes to the total, against 350,000 “Leave” votes, thus narrowing the gap still further to less than 37 per cent.

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Then there is the question of those who were not on the register and EU nationals who were barred from voting.

Even if it is accepted that a small majority is sufficient to decide a constitutional matter of this kind (the Unionists having somehow forgotten the 40 per cent rule required of Scotland in 1979), it is clear that it was only a minority who actually voted to leave the EU. It is probably too much to expect the Tories to stop endlessly repeating their mantra of ”the British people voted to leave the EU”. Perhaps, however, those who are now expressing interest in stopping Brexit in view of the current political shambles and the economic uncertainty (and there seem to be quite a few) will now have the confidence to change their view.

This question is far too important to our future to let it go by default.

Brian Patton
Foulden, Berwickshire

SO, Liam Fox wants to “keep our UK Borders secure” (Liam Fox’s views are ‘a fiction of imagination, The National, July 31). A fine turn of phrase when it comes to Brexit and whether we should allow immigration from Europe once we are out and once more a sovereign nation.

But, wait a moment... isn’t this the same Liam Fox who strutted up and down the tarmac at RAF Kinloss the day the Tories came to power at Westminster and was responsible single-handedly for cutting up a whole squadron of brand new Nimrod reconnaissance planes, just delivered to upgrade our maritime fleet which were supposed to keep our borders intact?

This was described by a commentator last week as “an act of reckless bravado” and has seen us, over the last 17 years, having to rely on the French Air Force and the Americans to protect our skies from a growing and menacing Russian presence in our territorial waters and the skies above them.

When does “reckless bravado” become a treasonable offence? One has to ask what this man is doing in the government at all.

W Kenneth Gunn


Pro-indy media is absolutely vital to the movement

I READ with interest the article by Editor Callum Baird (The National is a positive force in the indy debate, The National July 29), as not only was it needed but it laid out certain things to people like me of which we were not previously aware.

Back in the mists of time the Dundee Courier was the newspaper of choice in my parental home, but a change of location and rising costs in all aspects of life had meant that in my personal case a paper every day became less of a priority. Eventually, due to the excess amount of inconsequential rubbish that they all contained (“celebrities?”) only The Herald remained in the frame, and then only occasionally, with the Sunday Herald finally being the only title purchased.

In the fullness of time The National appeared, and I have bought every edition since number two. I had no prior knowledge of its impending arrival. I found the paper to be just what the general scene seemed to need — a place where the independence movement, in all its varieties, could have a say.

It is quite right that all points of view should appear in the pages — for and against — just as it is correct that the editorial team must have a view which they should express when they feel it to be important and relevant. What really surprised me was that the editor stated that the team producing this excellent publication consisted of only 10 or 12 people. I think that is quite remarkable, I would have expected it to be somewhat more than that.

Like your other correspondents who have expressed similar opinions, I am saddened by the comments made by Ross Greer, but of course if that is his view he is entitled to say so, hopefully he will change his mind. All sides of an argument have a right to be heard, but they should be expressed in language that is not insulting to the writer, and sometimes this needs to be watched.

It is absolutely vital to the independence movement and Scotland in general that all people who live here, whether born here or not, and particularly to the youngsters of 16 and 17, and who are the future of our country, have the benefit of The National with its breadth of views, information and opinion.

Lastly, I am saddened by the suggestion that you have had a tough time lately sales wise. What can the readership do to assist? Do we need to pay a little more each day for our copy? Would an extra 10p help? We must not get to a point where we are suddenly faced with a “last day of publication” notice. We will not let that happen. This is vitally important for democracy in our great country — even if the rain is bloody well pouring down outside as I write this!
George M Mitchell
Sheriffmuir, Dunblane

[Ed: Thanks George — it’s frustrating because we had a great six months up until the election. In fact, our sales were actually up compared with the previous year — which is pretty much unheard of for newspapers these days. As for what you can do to help? I’m open to suggestions — we’re delivering bulk copies to Yes groups to give out at stalls and put into the hands of potential new readers. Is there anything else our readers think they could do to help out? Answers to feedback@thenational.scot, please!]

I WANT to give my full support to the team at The National. Like many supporters of independence, walking past shelves of red tops and the Establishment press spouting right-wing and anti-independence views, spotting The National is like seeing an oasis in the desert.

In my opinion the writing covers the broad church of independence-supporting views, and has many original opinions on arts, international news and sport.

It is not afraid to be a critical friend rather than a nodding dog.

On a personal level I want to thank Callum Baird and his team for their outstanding support to my local SNP branch, which has allowed us to distribute an independence paper to supporters and potential supporters on the street and at stalls in the run-up to elections.

Please give support to our one truly “independence-supporting paper” and join the hundreds of readers who lift The National from the bottom shelf to the top, who leave copies in libraries and cafes and make sure we tell friends and family that this a high-quality paper giving a voice to independence.
Gordon Ferrie