Denied a voice by a Letters Editor

Letters to editors, in response to Unionist distortions, that were not published but which we at TuS think are well worth airing:

From David Patrick

27th September 2022 to The Scotsman/ Evening News

Although Ian Murray talked a good game with your correspondent at the Labour conference on Tuesday, he sidestepped several major issues.

Firstly, whatever good Labour achieved when in power has always been unwound by the next Conservative administration. Why should Scots continue to accept membership of a state whose politics keeps drifting further to the right, a direction which Scots have repeatedly demonstrated they do not want to head?

Secondly, Scotland does not have the choice of the status quo. Conservative governments since 2016 have shown no intention of accepting devolution in good faith – they are intent on dismantling it. To entrench the status quo, Westminster would need to vote for a written constitution ending the supremacy of the crown in parliament.That’s not going to happen any time soon, so why should Scotland suffer the indignity of the diminution of their parliament’s powers?

Finally, the performance of the Scottish government. Holyrood is the one place where the Scottish electorate can remove governments they don’t like. The proportion of voters voting SNP has increased at every Scottish general election since 2011. Why should Scots stop supporting a party whose policies they clearly approve of and support a British Labour party which they regard as having failed them?

With vision, Ian Murray might see that a genuinely Scottish Labour party could be the natural party of an independent Scotland. Mr Murray could conceivably end up responsible for Home affairs, Foreign affairs or one of the other great offices of state in an independent Scotland. Sadly, his pro-Union blinkers prevent him from seeing this alternate future, and the enticing career prospects it could hold for him.

7th September 2022 to The Scotsman/ Evening News – Published, but worth repeating?

Murdo Fraser described nationalism as a “costly indulgence” in his opinion piece yesterday. (“Truss must stick to cost-of-living crisis”, 7th September)

How would your readers – or Mr Fraser! – describe the Conservative party’s six-week election campaign for a new leader as the scale of the economic crisis became ever more apparent?

Total stasis? Indulgent navel-gazing? A dereliction of duty? Or some combination of all three?

21st August

Andrew H N Gray’s submission printed on Saturday (“Dark Underbelly”) criticised my letter in Friday’s paper (“It’s wrong to claim that nationalism is always bad”), and I feel obliged to reply.

Far from not understanding the difference between patriotism and nationalism, I recognise that both are defined within a spectrum which also includes chauvinism and jingoism.

The Chambers dictionary defines a patriot as “one who truly, though sometimes injudiciously, loves and serves his fatherland”. This is a far more nuanced definition than Mr Gray might like and not unambiguously positive.

A nationalist is defined as “one who favours or strives after the unity, independence, interests or domination of a nation; a member of a political party specially so called e. g. the Irish Nationalist Party who aimed at Home Rule; an advocate of nationalisation.”. I do have a problem with the word “domination” but, as with “patriot”, the definition has nuance and is not unambiguously negative.

The truth is that nationalists and patriots have a lot in common and the real misrepresentation is Mr Gray’s when he asserts that they are polar opposites.

I am happy to describe myself as a Scottish patriot – and a Scottish nationalist. Perhaps Mr Gray and other pro-union supporters should accept that they are also patriots and nationalists – British nationalists. After all, they strive for the unity of their nation – the UK.

But, as I suggested in my original letter, it suits the agenda of many who support the union to mistakenly portray nationalism as universally bad. Indeed, Mr Gray’s letter confirmed it.


26th July, to the Evening News

The last two paragraphs of Ian Swanson’s article in Tuesday’s paper summed up the central problem with devolution perfectly. Powers have been significantly expanded over the years, but devolution arrangements can still be undermined.

Playing the devil’s advocate for a moment, how can the Holyrood parliament have “a firmly established, central place in the life of Scotland” given “the UK government’s increasing encroachment on devolved areas of responsibility”?

Under the current arrangements Holyrood will never be firmly established because it could be abolished at any time or have its powers degraded by Westminster governments, as is happening now.

That is the central problem, and that is why Scotland needs to vote YES to independence on 19th October 2023. Only then will we be able to say that Holyrood’s place at the centre of Scottish life is guaranteed for all time.

16th July 2022 to The Scotsman/ Evening News

I was as disappointed by the tone of language used by Bill Cooper’s letter from last Friday as I was by its factual inaccuracy. Despite Mr Cooper’s assertion to the contrary (It’s wrong to claim Scotland is a “real” country), a quick scan of the UK government’s own website reveals the following entry in ISO 3166.

“The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy consisting of 4 constituent parts: 3 countries: England, Scotland and Wales: 1 province: Northern Ireland.”

As an interesting footnote, Wales was redefined as a country only a few years ago, having previously been listed as a principality.

Reference:–2, Section 10.2.1

Monday 4th July to The Scotsman/ Evening News

The hand-wringing of pro-union commentators in this paper over a second independence referendum really is becoming tiresome. Monday’s effort from Christine Jardine irritated me so much that I decided to skim through the Lib Dem Holyrood 2021 manifesto.

Sure enough, on page 1, Willie Rennie boldly states that “other parties will prioritise an independence referendum”. Indeed they did!

I would gently remind Ms Jardine, an MP representing the Liberal Democratic Party, that it’s not very democratic – or liberal! – to try to tell those other parties they can’t carry out their manifesto priorities after they won the election last year and formed a government.

I completely respect Ms Jardine’s right to campaign against independence – at 50:50 give or take a margin of error here and there there’s all to play for – but by saying no to the referendum she insults the Scottish electorate’s intelligence and makes a fool of herself.

The people unquestionably elected a parliament with majority support for the question to be asked in the first half of this parliament. If we are to remain a democracy, the question must be asked.

David Patrick


One thought on “Denied a voice by a Letters Editor

  1. Dear Prof and David Patrick, thank you for the important link to the UKgov’s toponymic guidelines. I’ve searched without success for UKgov confirmation that Scotland is a country, and now you’ve found it for me 👍🏻. Thanks again.


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