I had a letter in the Herald today in response to an article by Malcolm Bruce MP, which I took particular umbrage with. You can read Mr Bruce's article at:
My letter can be read below:
Malcolm Bruce suggests that the new SNP government is trying to provoke the Westminster government. Among the examples he cites are the abolition of the graduate endowment fund and the denial of this benefit to English students.
This is a bizarre claim to make. First, I seem to recall that his party also included the abolition of the graduate endowment fund in its manifesto at the Scottish Parliament election. Was this an act of provocation, too? Or does Mr Bruce's attitude suggest that this was a LibDem promise that was never to be fulfilled in the first place?
Secondly, far from it being the SNP that denies English students the same entitlements as Scottish students, it is he as a Unionist who does so. Mr Bruce knows fine well that if Scotland were an independent member state of the EU, then English students would be entitled to the same as Scots-based students. Our status as a sub-state nation within the EU denies us this opportunity. It is being part of the UK that stops English students from being entitled to the same benefits as Scottish students.
Mr Bruce then goes on to spout the old Unionist rubbish about Scotland suffering reduced influence in the world with independence. His statement that "our combined influence in the world" would be weakened with independence is nonsense.
Indeed, his claims don't stand up to scrutiny, given that we are presently in the throes of seeing Scotland's number of representatives at the European Parliament cut from seven to six, while Lithuania, with a population of some 1.5 million fewer than Scotland, has 13 members of that body.
The fact of the matter is that Scotland presently has no distinct voice of its own in the world and only independence will rectify that.
Mr Bruce almost comes clean as to his real concerns when he writes about Scots being no longer eligible for influential careers with independence. This is, of course, by and large total garbage. Scotland will have its own civil service and diplomatic corps and there will be many opportunities for our citizens as part of this.
One area of employment may be cut off, however. The 59 Scottish MPs who are presently elected to Westminster will no longer be able to sit in that institution and draw their salaries or expenses.
Mr Bruce is, of course, one of these individuals. It is his career he is really worried about, and not those of anyone else. It is this self-interest that is so evident in the Unionist politician that holds our country back from making real progress with independence.