William Simpson ends his letter published last week with an anecdote about his daughter being sworn at because she had an English accent at the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh, writing “That’s why I fear the campaign for independence”.
Really? Because of the behaviour of a drunken yob? Is Mr Simpson saying that this individual is somehow representative of Scottish people, to the extent that he “fears” independence?
Can I suggest he takes a look at the activities of some of our Brits on holiday, or the behaviour of some England football supporters abroad, and ask whether or not he “fears” remaining in the Union?
These characters are no more representative of English or other British people than the drunken yob who swore at his daughter.
“Nationalism is a corrosive force”, according to Mr Simpson.
What is loosely termed “nationalism” covers a host of different movements which are in some way related to nations. There is no meaningful connection whatsoever between the campaign for Scottish independence and the bloody ethnic nationalism of the Balkan conflicts a few years back or the National Socialist movement in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s – or is Mr Simpson trying to assert that there is?
When the Soviet Union condemned the “virus of nationalism” in the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, is Mr Simpson saying they were correct, and that the republics should have stayed within the Soviet Union? Were the Czechs “better together” with the Nazis in 1938?
If, as he says, the nation state has “no particular virtue”, why is Mr Simpson is so keen to retain the nation state created by the Union?
Scotland has, as Mr Simpson points out, produced many prominent figures in literature and science over the years. Very many Scots have emigrated (often forced to from poverty at home – or worse, cleared from their homes) and many of these have played a prominent part in settling, developing and even governing the British Empire.
How typical is it of those arguing for a No vote that this evidence of Scots’ ingenuity, energy and achievement should be presented as some kind of argument for the continuing dependent status of our country?
And what was the history of those parts of the empire which Scots did so much to develop? Eventually they demanded, and were granted, their independence.