The basic issue (Mark Ryan Smith)

It’s easy to forget, in the hurricane of fear brewed up by the press and the political establishment, what we’re voting for tomorrow. 

The fundamental question is about whether Scotland should be an independent country, in the way that France, Belgium, Norway, Holland, Australia, Germany, Canada, Japan, Brazil, Thailand, Denmark (and so on and so on) are independent countries.  The question we have to answer isn’t about nationalism or identity.

It isn’t about the SNP or Alex Salmond.  And it isn’t about what kind of money we use, some multi-national bank shifting one of its offices to London, or the apocalyptic reaction of the bonds market.  All these things are part of the debate, and the fact that there has been such widespread discussion of them during the last few years has been one of the triumphs of the referendum campaign.

But when we vote tomorrow what we have to decide is whether we support the democratic principle that countries should be able to govern themselves.

That’s the basic issue.  No sensible person questions the right of other countries to do this, so why should we deny our country the right to do exactly the same thing.

Mark Ryan Smith





Add Your Comment
  • Brian Smith

    • September 17th, 2014 19:52


  • Sean palmer

    • September 17th, 2014 20:29

    If Scotland goes its own way our expectation is that it will be an excellent lesson for our fellow citizens of Quebec who have on several occasions managed to stay in our conferederation despite cultural differences that are demonstrably far greater than found throughout the UK. Having realized that intelligent and enlightened discussion on self interest and how best to share common goals, granting more autonomy and recognizing the local needs that reflect the differences, Quebec has voted to stay as part and partner in our common future.
    Nationalism is, at times like these, a fantastic substitute for rational conversation and reflection IF obscuring the significant downsides of dividing common interest is the goal.
    Best of luck Scotland, either way.

  • Tim Senften

    • September 17th, 2014 20:36

    Spot on, Mark!

    • Laurence Paton

      • September 18th, 2014 4:41

      Yes a lovely speech indeed, but in reality entirely false.
      What is independent about following orders from an overseas politbureau?
      The whole charade can only benefit the corrupt and undemocratic EU.
      If it was anything else it would never have been allowed in the first place.

  • Robert Wishart

    • September 17th, 2014 20:53

    There is an “N” in SNP. We are being asked to vote in support of nationalism.

    • Brian Smith

      • September 17th, 2014 21:56

      I bet you a pound when you get to the polling station tomorrow, Robert, you don’t find those words of the ballot paper.

    • Robert Sim

      • September 17th, 2014 22:18

      Independence and self-governance, actually, Robert.

    • Geordie Pottinger

      • September 25th, 2014 18:21

      There is no “ism” in SNP, Robert. N stands for National, like in belonging to a nation. It is deflectors who conflate the “ism” for their own political purposes of scaremongering. You, and the Editorial in the Shetland Times in supporting the NO campaign, share complicity in this.

      • Ali Inkster

        • September 26th, 2014 10:01

        There is no ism in NATIONAL FRONT.

      • Robert Duncan

        • September 26th, 2014 11:59

        Are you really comparing the two, Ali, or just nitpicking?

        About the only corner stone of the National Front’s “manifestos” is:

        “The National Front advocates a total ban on any further non-White immigration into Britain, and the launching of a phased plan of repatriation for all coloured immigrants.”

        To pretend the SNP are even remotely comparable would be a little silly. Let’s not forget which side of the independence debate the NF sat on.

      • Ali Inkster

        • September 26th, 2014 14:03

        Are you saying that there is no nationalism in the SNP Robert? Just because they choose to disguise it does not mean it’s not there.

  • Michael Inkster

    • September 17th, 2014 23:25

    Mark, I disagree. The fundamental questions are, amongst other issues, absolutely about all of the things to which you refer in the second sentence of your third paragraph and that’s why, as you then curiously go on to acknowledge as a triumph, there has been such widespread discussions about all of those issues. If an independent Scotland was to survive and flourish and if we were to have a continuing ability to deliver the level of public services to which, until relatively recently, we have all become accustomed, even to expect, that would be inextricably linked to the relative worth of our currency (whatever we end up with, even if is is the GBP) to other major currencies, our consequent trading position with other countries, our ability to retain and attract inward investment and ultimately, I fear, our resilience to deal with a major financial catastrophe, such as the recent financial crisis, given that we would not have the economy of scale of what would unarguably be a much smaller nation. Unlike Norway, one of the selective countries to which you refer in an independence capacity (by the way you missed out Spain, Greece and Portugal, besides many other independents, of a less enviable financial standing) we do not have a billion-pound national oil reserve fund to fall back upon. Having said that, although I concede that an independent Scotland may ultimately be able to “go it alone”, I honestly fear that the risk is, as well as being to a large extent unquantifiable, far far too great. The ability of an independent Scotland to survive and flourish I feel would be largely contingent upon uncertain future financial forecasts, largely oil-related revenues, and although I have the occasional flutter on the Grand National, when the odds are fixed and the stake is, by choice rather than compulsion, low, as I don’t know the odds and fear that the stake is potentially far too high, I for one won’t be gambling with our children’s future tomorrow, Michael Inkster

  • Raymond Smith, Kirkwall

    • September 18th, 2014 2:12

    Well said RW – why vote for a fantasy wish list with no actual costs laid out for the average person to judge. It would have been to much too ask for this as it would have meant that salmond and his cronies would have shot themselves in the foot. Maybe salmond has a deal with putin another well known nationalist!!

  • Johan Adamson

    • September 18th, 2014 8:50

    No we are not voting for nationalism. SNP finished whatever happens. If we get a YES then they have lost the single issue they represent; if its a No they go back to the fringes, cos we didnt want independence.

    I think we need control of the money, however much it is, we dont want to be telt what we can and cant spend or that we cant feed the bairns, we need to spend it on Trident instead, so I am a YES.


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