The independence debate once again dominates the letters page of The Buteman this week - and we want to read your responses to the points raised.
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Fact and fiction on independence
Reading Mr Vincent’s letter in your July 25 edition, I am sure the people of Scotland will join me in thanking his sons (something in the City?) for their valued advice on a future Scottish economy. I am glad they have their finger on the pulse. Unfortunately this was the same ‘City’ that helped drag the world into the longest recession in history and indeed becomes more of a City State every day.
Mr Vincent observes, rather personally some thought, that my “view of ‘facts’ was clouded by my strongly held opinion”, as if that were some kind of ailment that was the antithesis of ‘facts’. Fair enough, I do have strongly held opinions about Scotland and have voted for independence from the 1960s. I’m not ashamed of that. I believe in our country and I believe in its people. Strong views? Maybe. Getting in the way of facts? No.
However, as he likes them, here are some facts for Mr Vincent:
Fact: Faslane, just a few miles up the river, has had 260 nuclear incidents in the past five years (MoD figures), all of which were of course deemed as secret, with no detail forthcoming
Fact: NATO has 28 member states. Only three are nuclear powers. Being a member means that an attack on one is an attack on all. It therefore follows that we would be dependent ultimately on the defence of Scottish sovereignty by all 28; not necessarily our nearest neighbour.
Fact: only 528 jobs depend directly on Trident (MoD figures) not “thousands”. The conversion of Faslane into the headquarters for our own defence force and naval base will create a large number of construction and ongoing staffing jobs.
Fact: Scotland contributes £3 billion to defence spending each year. Only two-thirds of that is spent here.
Fact: Westminster tells us it won’t build its naval vessels ‘abroad’ (that’s us, by the way), while a major player in the Aircraft Carrier Alliance is the French giant, Thule - and the UK buys weapons and aircraft from America. We can go on to build what additional naval vessels we need, after ships are shared out, but more importantly we can begin to compete for specialist merchant ship construction again.
Fact: in the event of a ‘no’ vote, Coulport on Loch Long will be massively expanded to store weaponry for the whole nuclear submarine fleet when moved north. This includes nuclear tipped torpedoes and Cruise missiles as well as Trident.
Fact: all redundant nuclear submarines are stored in Scotland, awaiting dismantling here. It will be a long time until the reactors are safe enough.
Fact: Dounreay was built to develop UK submarine reactors (no coincidence that it couldn’t have been further from London). The test facility, known as Vulcan, has been ‘hammered’ over the 60 years of its life, expressly to highlight flaws when developing British submarine reactors. Leaks from this and the other reactors on the site are legend and run into thousands.
Fact: Holyrood’s PR system gives Scottish Tories and other minorities a voice (silenced under the archaic Westminster system).
Fact: the Bank of England is unfortunately named, as it is actually the Bank of the UK. (Read the Treaty of Union, Mr Vincent; it’s quite short.) Sterling is not a reserved currency for England.
Fact: Leaving the EU; driven on by xenophobic attitudes beyond our understanding in Scotland, will cost the UK, and by default, us, billions. British jobs will be decimated.
These were a few facts; here are some of my “strongly held opinions”.
If I voted yes for one reason - and there are many - it would be to remove the immoral filth that is nuclear weaponry from our soil, for my grandchildren’s sake.
Be in no doubt, the destruction of industrial Scotland was not inevitable. It was a policy. Mrs Thatcher and others systematically dismantled industrial Britain, hitting the north particularly hard, and set in motion the end of shipbuilding, heavy and light engineering, mining, steel making, car and tractor making. And for what? To destroy what she saw as the powerbase of Marxist agitators - “the enemy within”, as she called them.
Ironically the subsidies withdrawn from these industries were given to the ‘sunrise’ electronics industries that proved to be as fickle and transient as the Scottish weather.
A ‘service economy’ was Mrs Thatcher’s personal way forward with more and more concentrated in the South East. Labour also lost their way, pursuing the same policies regarding industry.
That’s where we are today folks. Let us decide what we want to build or what skills we can sell to the rest of the world. Let’s forget the London-centric dogma that’s driven the UK from one extreme to the other and back again.
Is independence really “the great unknown”? As UKIP leads the Tories by the ear out of Europe, the rUK (and us, if we stay) would suffer greatly from the shutting down of inward investment due to uncertainty and the loss of the UK’s ‘gateway’ status to the European markets.
Must we dutifully follow suit? Scotland traded consistently with northern Europe for centuries before the Union and will carry on doing so, given half a chance.
The UK Government is attempting to portray itself as the protector of shipbuilding in Scotland, but nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the efforts of the trade union movement and many others, shipbuilding has been routinely neglected by Westminster.
But there is a stronger, brighter future for our shipbuilding industry in an independent Scotland. Let’s get real; Glasgow yards would continue to receive orders from the UK, because Portsmouth is not suitable for building key vessels, and even Westminster has admitted EU laws don’t stop the UK placing orders in Scotland after a Yes vote.
Scotland’s shipyards will also need to build ships for the Scottish navy, and the Scottish Government’s immediate proposals are to procure four Type 26 frigates for its new navy.
In general, defence procurement is increasingly a matter of international cooperation. Increasingly, governments are working together to procure ships jointly.
France is building warships for Russia, and last year the UK and Australia signed a new defence treaty that could ‘pave the way for the long-standing allies to join forces in constructing their next generation frigate’.
If it’s good enough for Australia and the UK, why do the politicians at Westminster profess they want to treat Scotland differently?
Scotland has seen an inspiring growth in social democracy, unfettered by left/right dogma, over the years of the Scottish parliament. After a faltering start, we are gravitating towards what we are best at; looking out for each other in a way that fits with our culture.
We have several English friends and colleagues in the north of England who would love to see the same thing happen on their patch.
Labour and Tories could, under the right leadership, find themselves again, when they stop looking over their shoulders for cues from London, or see Scotland as only the first step in their career.
I believe that under the maturing and independent Holyrood system all our parties could bring out the best in themselves and in Scotland.
Finally, Mr Vincent breaks out his colours. At the end of his last piece he calls me “irresponsible” - not very nice but nothing compared to his ‘concern’ about our - meaning his - “standard of living”.
Look about you, Mr V. I’m sure you know little of the standard of living of some decimated areas of central Scotland, where life expectancy is at Third World levels. It is obvious that you see independence simply in terms of a balance sheet. You are missing the point, sir. Independence is a principle, not a financial policy.
Of course it is not without risk, but continuing Westminster rule after a No vote will bin all the vague promises they have made. There won’t be risk then; only certainty - that Scotland will be shafted, to use the vernacular!
Here is a thought; power devolved is power retained. Devolution is power as a gift; Independence is power as a right.
Jim S. Mitchell, St Ninian’s Cottage, Straad
‘Scrap Trident to save money’
Alan Reid (Letters, July 25) is shocked again by a letter from me.
I am just a councillor and cannot change the benefits system as much as an MP can.
He also questions how the SNP will pay for benefits in an independent Scotland.
One way in which more money can be found is by scrapping Trident, which, according to recent reports, will cost Scottish taxpayers £1 billion over the next ten years.
This is information from the Ministry of Defence, which of course Alan Reid, as an MP can verify, and the money saved could easily pay not only for a fairer benefits system but for new schools and hospitals not to mention better infrastructure like roads.
Alan Reid should let the people know where the Liberal Democrats stand on Trident, and if he supports the vast amount of money it is costing Scottish taxpayers.
Cllr Isobel Strong (SNP, Isle of Bute), Lilybank, Glebelands, Rothesay