A lone voice

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So, Alex Salmond has a new job as chat show host.

Now, we all suspected that many MPs do half a job – here is proof. Not only is he an MP, but he is also an MSP; he should choose among these jobs and see if he can do one well. However, as the SNP are only permitted to speak as one voice, perhaps only one of the 56 need attend Westminster at any time.

Ken Currie

Liberton Drive, Edinburgh

Silent screenings

I agree with Nicola Benedetti (Your report, 6 January) about audience behaviour, but I would also apply it to ­cinema audiences. I love films but have stopped going to the ­cinema because of people who talk loudly, laugh, eat, swear, argue and use mobile phones. Cinema-going is now not the pleasure it once was.

Stephen J Hayes

Leven, Fife

Beeching regrets

The closure of the west coast rail line between Carlisle and Glasgow until February reminds me of a confession of regret made by Dr Beeching.

Shortly before his death in 1985, Beeching was interviewed on TV. When invited to reflect upon his report, Beeching said he had only one regret: That he was not allowed to close the east coast line from Newcastle to Edinburgh, for which there is no need, there being a line into Scotland from Carlisle to Glasgow.

Canon Alan Hughes

Wark, Northumberland

Hypocrisy on EU

The announcement by the Prime Minister that UK government ministers will be able to campaign on both sides in the forthcoming referendum on European Union membership is quite remarkable (Your report, 6 January).

It clearly smacks more than a little of hypocrisy for the Prime Minister to attack Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for having a divided shadow cabinet when it came to the debate on military intervention in Syria, but now be happy to have those inside his own Cabinet campaigning against the UK government line.

We also have the spectre of UK ministers calling for withdrawal from the EU attending and speaking at EU Council of Ministers meetings, a position that will significantly weaken the UK position in such talks.

Exit from the EU would pose a direct threat to jobs, investment and international influence. It is therefore more important than ever that those who support the UK’s continued EU membership stand up and make the case.

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

SNP and Europe

So we learn the pragmatic David Cameron is to let UK government ministers campaign for either side in the European Union referendum, once a deal is reached on the UK’s relationship with the EU.

Will Nicola Sturgeon following his liberal example with regard to Scottish Government ministers? Or will we be told, as supposedly was the case with SNP MPs and Syrian air strikes, that no Scottish government minister holds a contrary opinion to Ms Sturgeon, nor does a single Scottish Nationalist in government even question the SNP party line on the EU in any respect?

If I were a betting man, I know where I’d put a fiver.

Martin Redfern

Royal Circus, Edinburgh

Teacake troubles

The small-mindedness shown over the re-branding of Tunnock’s teacakes is an example of why Scotland will struggle to act appropriately in an international milieu if independence ever comes its way. Those who are irritated by Boyd Tunnock’s marketing presumably keep the tartan dolly and Brigadoon biscuit tin lid people in business.

Malcolm Parkin

Kinnesswood, Kinross

Donation system

In his article (Friends of The Scotsman, 6 January), James Cant exhorts MSPs to vote in favour of a “soft opt-out” system of organ donation. I hope they will do the opposite.

This proposed system will simply not achieve what it hopes to. Perhaps more organs would become available, but unfortunately there is no evidence to suggest that successful transplant operations will increase too.

While we would all like to bring relief to those waiting for an organ, the way to do it is by increasing voluntary donation. The Scottish Government ought to wait and see what happens in Wales before even considering this.

Christine MacLeod (DR)

Wyvern Park, Edinburgh

With respect to the proposal by James Cant from the British Heart Foundation Scotland to change the organ donor system for transplantation in Scotland to an opt-out system, it should be noted that the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 already enables an opt-out system in Scotland.

In other words, the present system in Scotland is of:

n Opt-in (informed consent) for those who register their wish to donate on the NHS Organ Donor Registry or by carrying an organ donor card (though their nearest relatives may greatly add to this number of body parts being donated after death, without the informed consent of the deceased person, in conformity with Section 7 of the Act).

n A de facto “soft” opt-out system, similar to the Spanish system, when no prior wishes of the deceased person are known. Indeed, the general thrust of the present “soft” opt-out system in the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 states that if there is “no authorisation by the adult … of removal and use of any part of the adult’s body for transplantation, the nearest relative of the deceased adult may … authorise the removal and use of any part” (using the words of the Scottish Act in Section 7(1)) if the relative has no knowledge of the adult’s wishes.

Basically, the present Scottish organ donation system is the one that would provide the greatest number of organs without having to go down the “hard” opt-out system, which means relatives having no say if the patient has not said anything. Whether most people in Scotland are aware of the situation is another matter.

Calum MacKellar (DR)

Director of Research

Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, Edinburgh

Feel-good policy

Kezia Dugdale’s proposal (Your report, 5 January) that £3,000 of taxpayers’ money should be given to first-time home buyers is typical of left-wing thought.

If houses are too expensive for young people there are three solutions: prevent population growth, build more houses, or deter buy-to-let purchasers. I would recommend looking seriously at each through reducing immigration, allowing more housing development and taxing landlords more severely.

Ms Dugdale instead goes for the obvious solution to the big government advocate: give people money. This will just help keep property prices at a problematic level.

This is a classic example of the left doing what feels good, rather than what does good.

Richard Lucas

Colinton, Edinburgh

We need Trident

News reports over the past few days stated that North Korea has tested a hydrogen nuclear bomb; that an intercepted Isis video shows their weaponry is far more sophisticated than thought and that Iran, which has been exporting and supporting terrorists for years, is once again belligerent, threatening revenge for the execution of one of its vociferous supporters in Saudi Arabia.

Any SNP supporter keeping up with current affairs should be appalled at Nicola Sturgeon’s stance of unilateral disarmament of our nuclear deterrent.

With all these idiots running around with itchy trigger fingers, our main hope is they will think twice because of the retribution that will rain down on them from Trident.

A few billion pounds a year for Trident would sound cheap compared with the rebuilding of a city or two – not to mention the loss of life, followed by a Hiroshima-type radioactive cancerous legacy.

Stan Hogarth

Palmerston Place, Edinburgh