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On Thursday Pope Francis will have completed a year as Bishop of Rome, a year in which he has begun to transform the Church. But be in no doubt, argues our Rome correspondent, of just how wide and how deep go his aims for change
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Tom Gallagher (The Tablet, 4 January) seriously confuses the issues that people should consider when deciding how to vote in the forthcoming referendum on independence and the subsequent Scottish Parliamentary elections.
The forthcoming referendum is about whether or not Scotland should become an independent country. It is not about whether people like or dislike Alex Salmond, the Scottish National Party or the policies of the present Scottish Government. Those judgements will be made at the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May 2016. The powers that parliament will have will depend on the outcome of the referendum.
A "yes" vote would be in line with subsidiarity and make it more likely that decisions taken that affect people in Scotland would be made by those who live here. If Scotland votes "yes", then the Scottish Parliament will have the powers to get rid of Trident and ensure that Scotland becomes nuclear weapons-free. That would effectively mean the end of the British independent nuclear deterrent as there is nowhere else in the UK that the Trident fleet can practicably be based. If Scotland votes "no", then the UK is stuck with the next generation of Trident as there is no sign that a Westminster government has any intention of getting rid of British nuclear weapons.
If Scotland votes "yes", then a new Scottish Parliament can adopt a more liberal and humanitarian immigration policy which fully accepts the rights of the family, refugees and asylum seekers. A just welfare benefits system that pays adequate benefits and works towards a living wage, and an economic policy that increases the number of jobs which are socially useful and necessary without being in thrall to finance capitalism, both become much more possible. There is a strong prudential judgement to be made that a government in an independent Scotland is significantly more likely to pursue the common good than any comparable Westminster government and an overwhelming argument that an independent Scotland would make it much more likely that Trident would be scrapped.
(The Revd) David Mumford, Brechin, Angus