Different tune

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The absolute glee with which Ian Graham, Colin Hamilton and Keith Shortreed (Letters, 18 November) have leapt on Alex Bell’s statement that the case for independence is economically flawed is tragi-comic.

Together they are delighted to be dependent!

Of course, those of us with long memories will recall that Alex Bell played a fundamental part in the creation of the of the white paper, Scotland’s Future, in which the economic strategy was prominent.

At the time correspondents to The Scotsman and the same gaggle of hypocritical politicians who gathered to praise Mr Bell attempted to bury him a couple of years ago.

Now, such is the desperation of supporters of the Union to attack the SNP that none can bring themselves to ask if he could not be trusted prior to the referendum. Why are his pronouncements to believed unquestioningly now and why has he said it?

The answer to the first question is that in their current situation, supporters of the Union need something to cling on to. The answer to the second can be found in the fact that Mr Bell is marching to the tune of a different piper now.

Fortunately, 75 per cent of 16-to-34-year-olds have indicated that they have more faith and belief in Scotland as an independent country than has been evidenced in the letters pages yesterday and intend to vote SNP.

And they are the young and coming generations.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street, Edinburgh

It is very annoying when, after agonising over the writing a plethora of letters to your pages, Alex Bell suddenly announces that there is no case for the very topic that haunts many of us – independence.

In revealing the truth he has, and in fewer words than me, deflated the SNP dream – hopefully forever.

The worry is that in claiming that the SNP model of independence is “broken beyond repair”, he suggests that they might build a new one. Can we take another white paper?

Ken Currie

Liberton Drive, Edinburgh

Charity funding

Proposals by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport to cut £30 million from Big Lottery funding for charities in Scotland will prove devastating and impact on the most vulnerable in our society.

It emerged recently that the department is proposing to reduce the money bound for the Lottery Fund from 40 per cent to 25 per cent, so that more can be directed to fund the arts and sport.

However, these cuts would leave the Big Lottery in Scotland virtually unable to fund new work, with existing commitments swallowing up almost all its remaining funds.

This seems rather odd, in that in the run-up to the independence referendum the pro-Unionist Better Together campaign argued that the only way to protect lottery funding was through the Union. It is perverse to cut support from charities when there has never been a greater need due to government austerity. Indeed, the Trussell Trust has indicated that food bank use in Scotland has increased to record levels, with more than 60,000 referrals over a six-month period.

To add insult to injury, the Scottish Government has never even been consulted on such a move.

UK ministers should resist the temptation to adjust lottery spending to accommodate pressure on public expenditure, and should be doing everything it can to protect Big Lottery Fund funding, not looking to cut it.

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Wind subsidies

Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, has announced that Britain will no longer pursue green energy at all costs but will instead make keeping the lights on the top priority.

This is not before time since Labour in 2008 subsidised everything with the label “renewables”.

Then, under the coalition, the Lib Dem Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, handed out wind turbine and solar subsidies like confetti.

It takes a woman to cut through the objections of the renewables industry and tell them that, from now on, policies will balance “the need to decarbonise with the need to keep bills as low as possible”.

She added that the UK’s coal plants will be phased out by 2025 and that gas will become “central” to the UK’s energy supply. Since we import gas in a volatile world one must assume that fracking in the UK will become a priority.

Ms Rudd should also stop the practice of paying “constraint payments” to wind turbine operators because the National Grid cannot handle the extra electricity when it is too windy.

Over the past 12 months, across the UK, £58 million was paid to power firms to shut down.

Clark Cross

Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Salmon health

I agree with Don Staniford (Letters, 17 November), particularly that farmed salmon are far from healthy and the salmon farming is draining the oceans of wild fish.

It also pollutes the whole area where each fish farm is located and the hordes of sea lice which the salmon cages attract destroy wild salmon and sea trout.

Something needs to be done before the wild fish are completely wiped out.

The catches last year on most of our rivers were way down on the five-year average and this year looks like it is going to be as bad as last year.

I would also mention that in the article on page 3 by Ian Fletcher you have used a photo of a rainbow trout instead of a salmon.

Mike McKinnell

Hillview, Edinburgh

So farmed salmon is not natural, which makes pigs and chickens unnatural too. Most of the food we eat is produced by farming, so when we produce fish in the same way should they be considered unnatural?

The answer is that they are only unnatural to a campaigner against the salmon farming industry who is prepared to mislead in advance of his cause.

Farmed salmon do contain more fat than a pizza or bacon but the fat consists of omega 3 rich fish oils, not saturated fats.

Fish are fed a manufactured feed but so are pigs, poultry, beef and a host of family pets.

The pink colour is nature identical to the pigment salmon obtain from shrimp in the wild. It is not dye. It is the same type of pigment that makes eggs yellow.

Salmon are fed on feeds containing fishmeal – fish that is caught and ground up for animal feed but salmon would eat fish in the wild.

Fishmeal is fed to pigs and poultry without any comments.

More so, 2.48 million tonnes of fish is fed to pet cats around the world every year. If we are concerned about draining the oceans of wild fish, then perhaps we should stop feeding them to land animals first.

Farmed salmon, like any other salmon, is a healthy and tasty choice and salmon farming is sustainable. If we want to eat more fish then we have to farm them.

(Dr Martin Jaffa

Callander McDowell, Manchester

Broken windows

Subscribing to the “Broken Windows” theory (Letters, Andy Aitken, 16 November), we have assiduously reported graffiti in our area and encouraged the owners of the property involved to remove it.

We get willing co-operation from Virgin Media, Royal Mail and the City of Edinburgh and we wait to see how Openreach responds to requests to deal with BT street cabinets. However, we get no action from Network Rail.

To help identification of the culprits, we report the tags to police, but this is complicated by Police Scotland operating only within ward boundaries (we cover part of two city wards).

The British Transport Police are more responsive, but police investigations usually lead nowhere.

Before reorganisation, Lothian & Borders Police were more co-operative and had teams working through tag records, sometimes with success.

Steuart Campbell

Secretary, Longstone Community Council

Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Harmful cuts

Exactly who are the UK Government’s welfare cuts and reform working for?

The question arises as a result of the awful statistics issued by the Trussell Trust, indicating a 17 per cent increase in demand at food banks in Scotland.

Alarmingly, Scotland has been tagged the UK’s capital for food bank use.

The outpouring of kindness from those who volunteer and donate is encouraging and very uplifting, helping those less well off than one’s self.

However, is there any government response to such an increase in demand at food banks, some 60,000 receiving assistance in the past six months?

Is the UK Government merely taking this outpouring of assistance to the vulnerable for granted as they relentlessly continue their damaging programme of welfare cuts and reforms?

Next week in the Autumn Statement the UK Government has an opportunity to address such poverty. We await the response.

Catriona C Clark

Hawthorn Drive, Falkirk

Military honours

Following the police raid in Paris yesterday we see that the police dog Diesel paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep people safe from terrorists.

It was a heartbreaking situation to see that brave animal die on the frontline at the hands of cowardly terrorists, but this, unfortunately is nothing new.

Many animals are killed in the line of duty to protect the freedom of citizens across the world, and their sacrifice, while never in vain, needs to be acknowledged in some way.

In Oklahoma this year a police dog called Kyre was murdered in the line of duty and received a funeral with full military honours. That is what I believe should happen to Diesel. His sacrifice probably saved scores of innocent lives; it must be rewarded. Give all animals killed in police and armed service military honours.

Gordon Kennedy

Simpson Square, Perth