The drive for Scottish independence is distinct from nationalism

Photograph: PA

Rafael Behr makes many valid points, and correctly describes the risks of nationalism going sour (Nationalism is winning – on both sides of the border, Journal, 12 February). But he confuses support for independence with nationalism.

It is nothing to do with nationalism that makes a growing number of us want to see an independent government at Holyrood – where Scottish legislators, who sit in a semi-circle chamber conducive to compromise, are elected through a system of proportional representation which was designed to check the extremists of any one party (nationalist or otherwise), and which allows more of the electorate to feel that they have a stake in government.

Compare that with the adversarial, childish jeering and mayhem that passes for legislative debate in Westminster’s chamber, where an absurd winner-takes-all voting system leaves millions unrepresented. Westminster is not the enemy, it is an anachronism. It is not a case of “nationalists rewriting the past” – it is about wanting to move forward from the past. Not in search of utopia, but in search of the greater self-respect that will come from being governed under a democratic system fit for the 21st century.
Julie Darling
Rosewell, Midlothian

• Towards the end of Rafael Behr’s article, he suggests that nationalism ultimately “taps the rage of fanatics”. The reason I vote SNP has nothing to do with any latent fanaticism. It has more to do with the long-standing democratic deficit in Scotland. I voted Labour throughout the Tory years of Thatcher and Major. In 1997, we finally got a New Labour government, only to be disappointed by its continuation of Thatcherism, admittedly by more humane means.

The SNP is a left-of-centre party, anti-Trident and steadfastly opposed to any privatisations of our NHS. As such, it responds to the aspirations of Scottish people. I agree with Rafael Behr that nationalism has nasty connotations. Nicola Sturgeon herself has admitted as much. For that reason, I value the actor Brian Cox’s recent suggestion that the Scottish National party should rebrand itself as the Scottish Independence party. If that was the case, SNP supporters would not have to fend off misunderstandings about what it is they stand for.
Alastair McLeish

• A good deal of the support for Scottish independence is much more pragmatic and mundane than Rafael Behr seems to think. For geographical, historical and cultural reasons, Scotland – like Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland – feels like a distinct political entity, and it seems to make sense that it should run its own affairs. No fanaticism in this position and “atavism” is confined to small cliques of tartan reactionaries.

Incomers will continue to be welcome, existing ties will be maintained and borders will be as near invisible as they can be. For the left, including the Greens (the actual Greens, not the caricature offered by Behr), there are two additional advantages to Scottish independence. First, it would probably lead to the UK losing its UN security council seat and hence its anachronistic great power delusions. And second, the loss of Faslane would probably lead to the end of the UK’s so-called nuclear deterrent. This is not a nationalist but a post-imperialist project.
Richard Middleton
Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire

• Notwithstanding Rafael Behr’s wise words about the dangers of nationalism, he misses a significant difference between English and Scottish versions. English nationalism appears to be pursuing an illusory sovereignty. By contrast, Scottish aspirations are increasingly focused on establishing Scotland as a member state within a European Union that more broadly shares its values and concerns. More national interest than nationalism perhaps.
Brian Caddick
Dinder, Somerset

• Please recognise that Scotland is a different country from England in its values and politics, differences that have been compounded by Brexit. It is not nationalism that is driving a wish for independence in Scotland but, rather, the realisation that it is closer to Scandinavia than England in its potential and culture.
Roger Read
Troon, Ayrshire

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