Wales could well join Scotland in its standoff over independence

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Martin Kettle (The Scottish standoff will not be decided at Westminster, Journal, 16 January) offers what may well be a realistic assessment of Westminster agreeing to another Scottish independence referendum. But in two respects he runs the risk of misunderstanding the psychology of the issue almost as deeply as those whom he justifiably criticises.

First, he lends credence to the assertion that the 2014 referendum settled the matter. “Usable” this argument may be. But it ignores the fact that the UK, in which Scotland voted to stay then, was a UK in the EU. Indeed voters were told that voting no was the only sure way of remaining within it. The independence referendum was ultimately about the kind of society that Scotland wished to be; the future as part of the UK is now a very different prospect.

Second, the article suggests that the Scottish appetite for independence might be allayed by a burst of public spending. That could be so. But it assumes that the demand for independence is driven primarily by economic factors. If Brexit has taught us anything, it is surely that in such a fundamental political choice, other considerations may weigh at least as heavily. In that overall assessment, what could count for more than broad societal outlook?
John Thomson
Gelston, Dumfries and Galloway

• In considering the Scottish question there are a number of important points of principle to argue. First, the loaded term “independence” should not be accepted. The debate concerns whether or not Scotland should leave the UK. Second, it should never again be accepted that a simple snapshot majority in a referendum gives appropriate democratic authority to remove material citizenship or other rights from people; if that is ever proper at all, then it requires a significant supermajority (as applied in the case of Quebec). And third, Orwell’s distinction between nationalism (a divisive and exclusionary force) and patriotism (an inclusive pride in exemplary positive national aspects) should be brought home – as Lisa Nandy perhaps tries to.
Colin Garwood
Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

• Re Martin Kettle’s article, the tectonic plates may be moving here in Wales too. In a statement, unreported by UK media, on 6 January in the Senedd (the Welsh parliament), the first minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “Instead of having an idea of the UK constitution that everything is held in London and then it’s shared out on a grace-and-favour basis to others, and can be taken back whenever they like, we should regard sovereignty as dispersed amongst the four UK nations and shared together for common purposes when we choose to do that.” This seems to be a description of confederalism. It may reflect the feeling among many members of Welsh Labour, that England is naturally Tory, and now rightwing Tory at that, and the only hope of putting their values into practice is via “devo max” or independence.
Bernard Gillespie
Trefaldwyn, Powys

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