THE search for a rational explanation of morality was a feature of the Scottish Enlightenment, not least in Adam Smith’s great work, The Theory Of Moral Sentiments of 1759.

The existence of human morality was not in question, but how did it arise in the individual and in society?

One human entity which is definitely not a moral creature is the state. States function, on the whole, according to how those who direct them see their interests. So, when trying to predict how a state will act, recourse to human moral sentiment is neither here nor there. They will not just do the right thing, as seen from a human perspective, and are not open or responsive to supplication, however craven, fraught or strident the appeal may be made, unless it does not conflict with their interests. Surely that is one lesson we ought to have got through our skulls, at least since 2014, with regard to our own Union Government?

That is the folly that underlies the whole 3500 dismal words of Stewart McDonald’s paper “A Scotland That Can Vote Yes”, carried in The National of February 8. A demented confidence that some day in the coming years, London will relent, grant us a referendum, and all will be well, so long as we use general elections to win a mandate for the Scottish Government merely to keep asking.

READ MORE: SNP MP spells out opposition to de facto indyref plan

Rather than begging, the reality is that our only chance of getting any accommodation out of London is to demonstrate in statement and in action that we don’t need it, because Scotland will proceed with a vote on independence at its own hand by means of any election we choose, and following a Yes vote will leave at its own hand (in the unlikely event of London then declining to negotiate Scotland’s exit). So, London would be better in the room than out of it, but the choice is theirs for all we care. That is the attitude and the resolve Scotland needs its representatives to display.

As well as his trust in London’s kind heart, he completely misstates the actual position, in some of the very few purportedly factual statements in the paper, thus: “The fact, recently confirmed by the Supreme Court, that Scotland can only leave the Union with Westminster’s consent … and an exit negotiated with the UK Government,” which “offers no lawful, democratic path for Scottish voters to secure independence … but the need for Westminster’s consent cannot be wished away. Until that consent is secured, the people of Scotland will remain … trapped.”

Well, the Supreme Court confirmed no such thing, merely that Holyrood cannot have an indyref without Westminster’s consent. The judgment was not concerned with how Scotland might otherwise leave. Nor is it true that there is no lawful, democratic path. Scotland’s supreme representatives, its MPs, can take Scotland out of the Union following any lawful, democratic and formal vote of its people for independence, as in an election with the appropriate manifesto. If Mr McDonald can refer to an actual prohibition of that course, let him do so. We do not find one in his paper.

How on earth does such stuff, locking Scotland in the Union at London’s whim, emanate from the pen of an MP from my party, the SNP – someone we should be entitled to assume is a professional fighter for Scottish independence?
Alan Crocket

THE fact that insouciant UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has still not responded to Neale Hanvey MP’s query about the radiation leak at Faslane three months ago is unacceptable but entirely predictable, and in keeping with Scotland’s status as an internal colony.

Years ago, I was an educational administrator for Boston University at the US base at the Holy Loch. I was shocked that a base of that nature was situated so near to Glasgow, your largest city. That simply would not have been allowed in the US itself, where an Environmental Impact Report would have been required and would not have permitted anything of that nature close to a major population centre.

That chapter has been closed now, Holy Loch has been left heavily polluted and the UK is able to maintain its own submarine fleet (Polaris often had to be repaired at US facilities); clearly the people of Scotland are not any safer and are in fact at more risk than ever before.

I guess Wallace was so preoccupied with his ceremonial duties after the death of the Queen that exercising a duty of care for his fellow Scots came at the bottom of his priority list, and that is to be expected from a colonial administrator!

All the more reason why Scotland needs independence now, and Trident and its successor Dreadnought can be based at Plymouth or Portsmouth and be serviced at Kings Bay, Georgia.
Marjorie Ellis Thompson