The Spectator

Letters: why do we put up with bats?

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Scottish hearts and heads

Sir: Alex Massie ignores the evidence when he espouses the assumption that economic concerns no longer matter in great political decisions (‘Scottish horror’, 15 August). Compare, as he does, a future Scottish referendum with the 2016 Brexit vote. Then, around two thirds of the British electorate held ‘Eurosceptic views’ (so Sir John Curtice of Strathclyde University tells us). But the barest majority voted to Leave. The cause is plain: the largest single motive for Remain voters was that ‘the risks of voting to leave the EU looked too great when it came to things like the economy, jobs and prices’. A Eurosceptic two thirds was whittled down by ‘hearts vs heads’ considerations. The residents of Scotland would have to be uniquely indifferent to their future livelihoods to ignore the economic costs of separation. If and when two thirds say they want independence, it becomes more serious.

But if Mr Massie is right, and another referendum is inevitable, who should decide? Scottish nationalists’ claims are based, by definition, on the fact that Scotland is a nation, not merely a region like East Anglia or Greater Manchester. Scots do not forfeit their national identity by living in other parts of the United Kingdom. All UK citizens born in Scotland, and perhaps whose parents were born in Scotland, should surely vote if there is another referendum.

Robert Tombs
Cambridge

It’s not over

Sir: We would like to express our dismay at the defeatist tone of Alex Massie’s article last week. While we agree with his analysis that next year’s Holyrood election will be critical for the Union — an election we have named ‘the Battle for Britain’ — we disagree with his belief that the SNP is likely to win it. The SNP’s current poll lead is caused by a failure to hold Nicola Sturgeon to account by both the Scottish opposition parties and the media.

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