Ruth Marr is a regular contributor to the Letters pages of our Scottish newspapers. As someone who did a fair amount of that at a point in time, I accept the reality that editorial judgment must be exercised as to whether to print or not, and in editing content, for reasons of space and other considerations. I don’t believe that editors censor letters – if they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t publish at all. And I repeat my long-held view that, whatever my difference with the Herald’s news coverage on occasion, I regard its Letter Page as the glory of the newspaper, and in the highest traditions of free journalism, free debate and exchange of views. It is the voice of the Scottish people, in all their political diversity, and is unmatched in this context by any other Scottish or indeed UK newspaper.
Ruth had a letter in today’s Herald, and it made perfect sense as printed, at least to me, but since I know it was an edited version of the original, I think it is useful to reproduce the original here, and I have Ruth’s permission to do so. The topic is a vital one, and an area where the Coalition Government and David Cameron are playing with fire, but seem to be too obtuse to recognise this fact.
FULL TEXT OF EDITED LETTER IN TODAY’S Herald
During the Scottish Parliamentary election campaign Alex Salmond made clear to the electorate his plans to hold a referendum on Scottish independence during the latter half of this parliamentary term, and on polling day was given a resounding endorsement by the voters.
What part of that do opposition politicians not understand? Is it because they are so accustomed to saying one thing before an election and doing another after it that they find it hard to grasp the concept of a politician honouring his promises? Ever since the SNP victory, opposition politicians have been needling Mr Salmond to break his word and hold an early referendum, and now, ominously, the talk is that Westminster might step over the Scottish Government and hold its own referendum, under its own terms. ( 'Westminster weighs up holding Referendum first' The Herald, October 1st).
David Cameron's threats that he will not allow the First Minister of Scotland to use his term in power to campaign for Scottish independence is an unwarranted and unpardonable interference in the devolved government of Scotland. Mr Cameron's assurance that he would show respect to Scotland has been revealed as an empty promise. But a promise which will be kept was made to the voters by the Scottish Government on the timing of this referendum, and when it is held it should be the Scottish people and only the Scottish people who have the power to decide Scotland's destiny, whether Westminster likes it or not.
Ruth Marr – submitted 1st October 2011, edited version published today, 3rd October 2011