A lover of Scottish literature, Sheila Wallace (Letters, 11 November) surely knows that the first major poem in the Scottish language is Barbour’s Brus, an epic celebration of Scotland’s resistance to English aggression. From later periods she probably knew Robert Fergusson’s The Ghaists, with his verses “Black be the day that e’er to England’s ground, Scotland was eikit by the Union’s bond!” And with Robert Burns’ bitter diatribe against Scotland’s loss of Scotland. independence, “Such a bunch of thugs in a nation”.
She should also be familiar with the fiery expressions of radical Scottish nationalism in the poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid, and that of the galaxy of superb Scottish writing poets her work has inspired: Tom Scott, Sydney Goodsir Smith and Douglas Young, to name just three of the best. I remember the distant student days of a symposium at Glasgow University Union in which Norman MacCaig said: “Every poet in Scotland is a Scottish nationalist”: other prominent figures of the literary scene were also present, and certainly none of them raised a dissenting voice. It was over half a century ago; but I can think of a few valuable Scottish writers from this day to this day who have not been openly in favor of independence.
The association of our national literature with the cause of independence is not, as Sheila Wallace seems to think, a recent and unsavory aberration, but a central fact of the whole field, especially in the 20th and 21st. centuries. Why else does she think generations of Scottish schoolchildren have been deliberately kept in the dark about most things?
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Derrick McClure, Aberdeen.
SCOTLAND MUSIC IS NOT NATIONALIST
CORRESPONDENCE by John Dunlop (November 9) and Sheila Wallace (November 11) describes the alarm that Scottish music, poetry and literature are somehow being spoiled and exploited by “nationalists”.
Our culture was founded in a wild amalgamation of local and international influences. I play traditional music and the number of songs that share Irish and Scottish roots is considerable.
This music is not nationalist, it is rather very local, with styles and repertoire changing from one region to another. It is also international, shared by enthusiastic actors from all over the world.
Allan McDougall, Neilston.
IT’S TIME TO CONSULT EXTERNAL FUNDING
Self-government opponents get annoyed when celebrities have their tuppence, but what is far more insidious are people living outside Scotland spending large sums of money to secretly influence events in Scotland, normally by far-right organizations, and the Election Commission must crack down on funding by anonymous third parties in elections and referendums.
For example, recently published spending for the Scottish May elections included Â£ 56,256 by the anti-independence group Scotland Matters, which was funded to the tune of Â£ 46,000 by the Unknown Center for Economic Education and Training, which no ‘has only a postal address in London. without any trace of who is a member or who finances it and has not registered with the Election Commission. Another Â£ 19,000 donation to Scotland Matters came from a former London-based Conservative researcher, so much of its funding came from outside Scotland.
The same goes for the new Minister of the Office for Scotland and Peer of Lords, the so-called London-based No Borders organization of Malcolm Offord who spent Â£ 150,000 during the 2014 referendum campaign and received 50 Â£ 000 from the directors of Stalbury, which is based in England and whose stated purpose of the company is “the promotion of the Conservative Party”.
Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.
IN SEARCH OF COMPROMISE
WILLIE Maclean (Letters, November 11) is absolutely wrong to describe my position on a second referendum as being that future voters “should never be given the opportunity to vote on the question of independence”.
On the contrary, as regular readers know, I have always argued for a New Act of Union that offers a unilateral path to secession, subject to a referendum based on best practices elsewhere (which may include majorities qualified and double majorities). This is my reasonable suggestion for a compromise which respects the outcome of the 2014 vote and which would ensure that independence would only occur if it was the established will of a clear majority.
However, the concepts of “reasonable” and “compromise” are unrecognizable to the nationalist mentality.
Peter A Russell, Glasgow.
LITTLE CHANGED SINCE 2014
The SNP never really recovered from its defeat in the 2014 referendum.
It should certainly be noted that in the last Holyrood election the number of votes cast for the SNP stood at 2,385,788, while the Conservative / Labor / Liberal Democrat voters totaled 2,624,825. This is about a ratio of 47.6 / 52.4, which is very close to the results of the independence referendum. So one can only conclude that nothing has really changed – the majority of Scots still want to stay in the UK.
The recent agreement by the SNP to strike a deal with the largely unelected Scottish Greens is simply leading to a bigger stalemate, rather than any political advantage.
One might well suggest that this is just another attempt by the SNP to try to undermine the good economy and political leadership of these islands. Scotland’s future will be much safer politically and economically if it continues as a constituent part of the UK.
Robert IG Scott, Ceres, Fife.
AN ARGUMENT FROM BARON
DR Angus Macmillan (Letters, 11 November) talks about the Labor Party’s collusion with the system associated with House of Lords appointments for years. Who once said “The House of Lords must disappear – not to be reformed, not to be replaced, not to be reborn in a patronage paradise named after death, just closed, abolished, finished”? Answer: Neil Kinnock in 1976.
What is he today? Answer: Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty.
That pretty much says it all.
Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.
EUROPE AGAINST NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Retired Irish Defense Force Colonel Dorcha Lee writes that “Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey are stockpiling American nuclear weapons, without any public concern” (“An independent Scotland would be -she vulnerable? Not necessarily, âThe Herald, November 11). Polls by ICAN, the international campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons, in four of the five countries Col Lee refers to, suggest otherwise.
The public in these four countries were asked about the removal of US tactical nuclear weapons and answered yes: Belgium 57%, Netherlands 58%, Italy 74% and Germany 83%. Figures for Turkey are not available.
These polls reveal that anti-nuclear sentiment, especially among the original Western European members of NATO, is considerable. This is another sign of the political cultural alignment of Western Europe in general and that Scottish anti-nuclear sentiment is no sort of exception. The real outlier is Brexit Britain.
At its August conference, the SNP passed a motion by over 500 votes to 14 endorsing the earlier decision by all SNP parliamentarians to sign the ICAN parliamentary pledge that an independent Scotland would swiftly sign the treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which came into effect at the UN in January 2021.
The TPNW has 86 signatory states and so far 56 states have ratified it, a number that will increase as the TPNW holds its CoP1 by the Austrian government in Vienna in March of next year, an event that many between us in the civil society dimension of the anti-nuclear movement hopes to attend.
Bill Ramsay, Manager, SNP CND, Glasgow.
A GOOD COP FOR THE PRIME MINISTER
I ALWAYS appreciate Alison Rowat’s quick wit, but if “Mr B Johnson from London” did indeed leave the comment she imagines, that Glasgow is a “fabulous asshole so neck-deep in the sleaze row, “Mr Johnson, with the sleaze now finished his head, will find it nearly impossible to rise above, whether in Glasgow or elsewhere (” Just for a while, the world really belonged to Glasgow “, The Herald , November 11th). And although he left the plane upon his return to the climate conference, his arrival off the train was greeted with less enthusiasm by the welcoming committee; it wasn’t just the gap Boris Johnson had in mind.
Even more irritating for Mr Johnson, however, has to be the high profile the Scottish Prime Minister secured at the conference. Mr Johnson sadly told the Scottish Tories he didn’t want Nicola Sturgeon “anywhere near him”, although he had to turn around about it, given that Nicola Sturgeon is the first Minister of the country where the conference is taking place. Then there was the Tory MP alleging that the three goals of COP26 were “Save the planet. Save the country. And prevent Sturgeon from taking a picture with Biden.” That one didn’t go well for Mr Johnson either.
As for the overall verdict of the conference, Ms Rowat is right to sum it up as a “jury out”. But whether it is a good COP, a bad COP or a failure, only time will tell. The problem is, the planet doesn’t have time.
Ruth Marr, Stirling.
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