IN a reply to a local man who was critical of my support for a recent Wallace March in Lanark, I asked him, “What is it about Scotland governing itself that frightens you so much?” Another correspondent replied. Here is my response to the latter writer.

Permeating any discussion of this nature is the undemocratic bias of what we are calling the mainstream media. The majority of the newspapers and TV news are blatantly against any self determination for Scotland. It has the “cry wolf” effect. We cease to believe anything they say.

The unknown writer who for convenience I will call “he” concludes that what frightens him is the state of the Scottish NHS, Scottish education and the Scottish police. I am fairly sure that he does not believe the ridiculous and distorted headlines that scream from the news-stands. However he insults our intellect by implying that many of us might so believe them and that if he and his like reinforce it so much the better. Disappointing. My own information is gleaned as best as I can from reading the supporting reporting under the headlines which often is contradictory or less sensational; from intelligent reading between the lines, by detection of inference and omission and grudging admission, by knowledge of the politics and tactics of the speaker, writer or performer, and by other subtle difficult to describe methods of discernment. I think we all do that to varying degrees.

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So after all that, my information is that our Scottish NHS is performing better than that of England as is our education system. I also have detailed personal experience of the education system having attended at over 500 schools of all levels in both countries. I have also had experience of the health provision in both countries and would honestly tend towards Scotland being better. Pragmatic comparisons are parking fees at hospitals, prescription charges, tuition fees. Certainly, there is nothing that indicates careless government. I do not know about policing except for speed cameras, wheel clamping and the outrage that only Scottish police pay VAT. There seemed to be many, many more cameras in England ten years ago. The one force change in Scotland obscures my perception and reporting both.

So what he says scares him is our incompetence.

Earlier in his letter is the GERS. Every country has a deficit it seems. Scotland’s is no worse than that of any other country. However GERS is strongly suspect in its construction as applied to Scotland. To use it to infer that Scotland could not manage on our own is ridiculous. The deficit reflects Scotland controlled by Westminster, not Scotland running its own affairs. How do other small neighbouring countries some without our plentiful resources manage? Ireland? Iceland? Norway?

Then there is the ever present question. Why does Westminster so desperately want to keep us if we are such a drain - such a charity case – on their exchequer?

However detractors of independence declare we would not survive – too poor.

Too small?

What is it that opponents of Scottish independence resident in Scotland – of any nationality – fear? All of the above but as a less immediate threat? Fear of the diminishment in status and money accrued as a result of their loyalty and association with their Westminster masters?

Whatever the future holds, Scotland can no longer afford to be shackled to a shambolic, archaic neighbouring country run on privilege, pilfering and perfidy. A country that dominates a union with no written constitution and where law and convention can be applied and supplanted one with the other as expedience dictates.

Victor Moncrieff

Lanark