9 AUGUST 1975, Page 5

Scottish nationalism

Sir: Your editorial on Scotland (July 26) Was despicable. Who would believe that 'currently fashionable devolutionary ideas" go back beyond Bonnie Prince do-you-remember-his-name? Maybe the Beeb will show an Erroll Flynn Movie on the subject while you're relaxing after a hard day of Parliament-watching. Maybe you'll pick up a bottle of Dramb,uie and read the label. Who cares what compromising solutions Westminster has dreamed up for a Problem that never will be solved there, and never can be?

The eternal problem of a superior Power is that when it sees those it incorporates to be happy, or reasonably content, it then ignores its parts, and Considers itself along the whole. "ProVide Scotland and Wales with reasonably decent government," you say, "and ,I10 More talk will be heard of nationalism." As long as you can tell a Scotsman from an E glishman by any Manner or means, and to hell with what the tourists see, the word 'nationalism' Mit Mean something,, and as long as it does someone will wonder why an alien culture is dominant. you do not "provide" people with self-government. If that word is used accurately, then

merely having Scottish MPs in Condon has not been enough. And finally, if London is fooling around with ideas you don't like and consider useless, then how do you expect it to change and provide competent rule to prevent further nationalism, while its thoughts are so erroneous.

I don't aim to provide advice myself.. Might I merely provide an example, rather. In the State of Maine, groups have formed, calling themselves 'Freedom Fighters,' defending the self-government of towns and countries against encroachment by the state and federal bureaucracy on their traditional powers. These groups are strongly conservative, and it is the state which is being' progressive.' This is the case in most confrontations of this nature. The SNP are the type of backward patriotic socialists which are looked upon with contempt by internationalist-liberalFabian-variety socialists. This is in a similar vein with Bern's opposition to the EEC, and with the adoption of states' rights views of a sort by American leftists like Pete Hamill and Alvin Tanen As! remember it, the Stuarts believed in divine rights and all kinds of really ancient and traditional dribble. There is an old political principle that today's reactionary notion will be tomorrow's radical outcry. This is certainly true of Scotland, and indeed, may happen with patriotism in general.

Peter Sutherland 5 Nelson Street, Winchester, Mass, USA.