The diverse forces calling for separation are far from tribal

From Cllr Alasdair Rankin, City of Edinburgh Council, UK

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Sir, Your editorial, “Scotland’s fateful choice” (September 11), claims that “the path of separation is a fool’s errand”. If it is, it is a journey on which dozens of newly independent countries in recent decades have embarked without any hint that they wish they had not.

That Scotland could be a successful independent country is generally acknowledged, including by the prime minister and your chief political correspondent. The question of whether Scotland should be independent relates to the political, social and economic trajectory of the UK over an extended period and one that seems set to continue.

There is also the question whether its political system has the ability to reform. You say that “above all a Yes vote would ignore the lessons of the 20th century, a chapter in European history indelibly scarred by narrow nationalism”.

More important than that extravagantly misdirected comparison, this suggests a serious misunderstanding, or ignorance, of the diverse social and political forces that have motivated the independence cause in Scotland. Given that diversity it is quite wrong to describe the Yes movement as narrow, tribal or inward-looking as you do.

Voters in Scotland are now being offered what they are told is a guaranteed, substantial advance on the current devolution arrangements. As Charles Kennedy MP has said, this should have been offered at least a year ago. It could even have been on the referendum ballot paper.

That it has taken recent opinion polling to shift the Westminster parties to this position so late in the day demonstrates how reluctant they have been to consider seriously, and to undertake to implement, something that might be described as the new political settlement that you say Britain needs.

Perhaps opponents of independence among the political class might usefully reflect that, if the UK is so well governed, by what political foolishness on their part did things come to this pass?

Cllr Alasdair Rankin, City of Edinburgh Council, UK

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