IT is beyond belief that Liz Truss, who has just been handed the keys to No 10 Downing Street by Conservative party members (with 6% of Tory members living in Scotland) is reported as having the temerity to plan on ripping up the long-established rule book and interfere with the democratic process at Scotland’s independence referendum (“Sturgeon slams Truss over ‘changing rules’ on Indyref”, September 5).
I noted in her acceptance speech yesterday that she spoke of her belief in “freedom”, and in paying tribute to Boris Johnson declared that he was “admired from Kyiv to Carlisle”.
Any admiration for Ms Truss will also come to an abrupt stop at Carlisle if she seriously intends to move the electoral goal-posts – an affront to democracy and an affront to Scotland.
Ruth Marr, Stirling.
A TIMELY WARNING FOR THE NEW PM
SCOTLAND’S people are indeed exceptional when viewed by the British state’s establishment.
There have been 13 major referendums held in the UK since 1973 (Northern Ireland), including other momentous constitutional issues such as whether to remain in the EEC (1975), whether to shift to PR for Westminster elections ( 2011), Scottish independence (2014), and Brexit in 2016.
In all of them, bar one, a majority of those voting was regarded as definitive. The exception was the 1979 Scottish referendum, when 40 per cent of the electorate was required for the Yes side to win.
Two more referendums can be anticipated, both will be about parts of the UK leaving it.
The Northern Ireland Act 1989, giving effect to the Good Friday Agreement, stipulates in Schedule 1 that if the Secretary of State believes that “a majority of those voting” in Northern Ireland would opt to leave and join the Republic, he would authorise a poll.
So, why and on what principle is Scotland different from Northern Ireland by having a 50 per cent threshold imposed by Liz Truss’s government?
It was believed by those who promoted the 40 per cent in 1979 that it would scupper the idea of an Assembly. It ultimately failed. We have a Parliament instead of an Assembly. There is a warning there for the new Prime Minister and what she seems to regard as a clever ruse.
Jim Sillars, Edinburgh.
IT is difficult to fathom Scottish nationalists’ knee-jerk reaction to the perfectly reasonable proposal that half of the population plus one would have to approve the break-up of the UK before it could go ahead.
Should such a momentous change to all our lives and the lives of those of who follow us, go ahead on the word of a noisy and clamouring minority?
In every civilised country a major constitutional change, such as that proposed by the nationalists in Scotland, requires an at least two-thirds majority.
It is so obvious that this is necessary for basic fairness that it hardly needs saying, and even the nationalist party of Scotland, the SNP, requires that majority for any major change in party rules.
In 2014, the perhaps over-confident and appeasing pro-UK side gave the nationalists every possible advantage they asked for – the date, the crucial wording of the question, the qualifications of those eligible to vote, and so on.
The fact that opinion is now veering back towards balance and fairness seems to be annoying the SNP.
Why not, then, let a trusted, neutral, non-partisan group of non-UK constitutional experts decide?
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.
A WELCOME CHANGE IN THE RULES
CHANGES in the rules of any future independence referendum for Scotland are being brought forward to require a 50% support of all Scottish voters instead of a simple majority.
This will ensure that such a radical move would require a clear majority of Scottish voters in taking Scotland out of the UK and in the process losing all the financial support and security we have enjoyed for over 300 years.
Dennis Forbes Grattan, Bucksburn, Aberdeen.
SCURRILOUS AND DUPLICITOUS
SO, whenever the Tories appear likely to win a constitutional plebiscite, via a referendum or conventional democratic process, 50% plus one vote is sufficient to determine the outcome.
When Scottish independence was apparently only desired by around 25% of the population, the Edinburgh Agreement was drafted and agreed to by all parties.
Even Brexit, which committed all four UK nations to a single outcome determined independently by a UK Government, was advanced on this basis, although the arrogance of the Tory Prime Minister did not produce the outcome he naively had anticipated.
But, typically of what we have learned about dictatorial Tory government regimes over the years, when defeat looks likely they are not concerned in the least with democratic principles, past conventions (eg, the Sewel Convention), or even international laws to which they have recently signed up: they imperiously seek to change the rules.
While the UK government continues to refuse to comply with legal judgements that the pre-2019 tax-payer funded research on public attitudes to the Union should be published, the polls are clear that around 50% of the electorate, and perhaps significantly more, now support the right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future.
Disingenuously simplistic comparisons with the current internal machinations of political parties are not only desperate but are further attempts to trivialize discussion around the constitution and the fundamental rights of Scotland’s people, as endorsed by the UN, to independently determine their own future.
The past scurrilous attempts to frustrate devolution and the re-establishment of a Scottish Parliament by rigging the democratic process failed, as will duplicitous attempts to prevent the people of Scotland claiming their historic and enduring right to self-determination.
Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian.
LETTING THE FM OFF THE INDYREF HOOK
NICOLA Sturgeon really ought to welcome any changes to the rules on referendums because it would let her off the self-imposed hook she is on.
Currently Ms Sturgeon is at great risk of having her premature call for Indyref2 on October 19, 2023, falling flat on its face. This will be certainly damaging to her but potentially far worse.
Ms Sturgeon, however, is still digging a pit for herself and her party, as it was the SNP who insisted the voting-age rules be changed in the 2014 referendum to be brought down from 18 to 16. She didn’t complain then when this was approved, did she?
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.
A MAJOR STEP FORWARD
IF rumours are true that Liz Truss is considering a law that 50% – 2.1million – of Scotland’s 4.3m registered voters have to vote in favour of leaving the UK, that would be a major step forward.
We need to learn from Brexit and the 2014 referendum that not only do we need a better informed and fact-checked debate, we also need a result that people on all sides can accept, and move on.
Based on the 2014 turnout of 84.5%, the new rules would require a 60-40% Leave vote on the day – a result that I, for one, would respect.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.
IS TRUSS ON THE WAY OUT ALREADY?
IS just me or was that the height of ignorance by Liz Truss to not even shake the hand of the losing candidate, Rishi Sunak, when result was announced, and walk straight on to the stage?
And, as for her first few words as leader – boy, those fractional pauses before the applause broke spoke volumes.
As political gossip would have it, are her days numbered already?
Douglas Jardine, Bishopbriggs.
… BUT LET’S GIVE HER A CHANCE FIRST
WHATEVER Liz Truss’s oddities, as mentioned in your leading article on Saturday (“Truss’s fear of robust TV interviews hinders our ability to assess her leadership qualities”), and disregarding the fact that she was extremely vague during the hustings, we have to accept that she won fairly and squarely.
She has an in-tray that is full to overflowing. The issues she faces would daunt any incoming Prime Minister, and more than a few incumbents.
You don’t need to be a diehard Tory to hope that she can make a meaningful response to the cost-of-living and energy crises. These must be her priorities, but she deserves to be allowed to show what she is capable of.
S. Gray, Glasgow.
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