EU questions

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THE LEADER of Aberdeen City Council favours remaining in the EU partly because the city has received grants from it, and stress is laid on research grants to bodies in the UK from the same source (Reports 18 May).

However, if the UK is a net contributor to the EU, as seems to be the case, this largesse has been paid for by the UK taxpayer and merely recycled by the EU – after deductions. It should also be borne in mind that there is no guarantee these grants will be made in the future.

The letters by Joan Mitchell (passionately Remain) and Donald J Morrison (ditto Leave) – on the same date – raise more fundamental matters, namely the nature of the EU and how it might develop. It seems to me that such matters are more relevant to reaching a decision on voting in the referendum than where rather parochial and short-term advantage might lie.

Being in – or out – of the EU is not just for Christmas.

S Beck

Craigleith Drive, Edinburgh

Price of EU debate

The CBI makes a strong point about the potential damage to our economy of the continued uncertainty over our EU membership generated by the current debate.

While the politicians engage in political point scoring, seemingly more concerned about hitting the headlines with their latest sensational claims, rather than founding their arguments on the facts, it should trouble us all that UK businesses are seeing a negative impact on trade and investment. Ultimately this will feed through into the jobs market as well.

The Scottish Government should also take note of the concerns of business, given that they currently plan to extend this uncertainty beyond the EU vote, with a new campaign to promote the break-up of the UK. Scotland’s economy is already lagging behind the rest of the UK, the last thing we need is to further disadvantage Scottish businesses.

Keith Howell

West Linton, Peeblesshire

Cost benefits

Depending upon who you believe, Britain’s net contribution to the EU is about £12 billion, which is the same as our government spends on providing shopping trips for dictators’ wives – also known as foreign aid – let’s say £24bn in total, which is £387 for every single person in the UK if we stopped both.

Then the recent £365bn of UK quantitative easing – also known as printing money – was about £6,000 for every single person in the UK. That’s £24,000 for a family of four. Where did yours go?

In Europe, the European Central Bank’s own quantitative easing of €1.3tn is now complete, equal to €3,000 per head. I wonder where that money went.

So the real question is who benefits from this largesse, all of it allegedly issued for the benefit of the people.

Maybe we are the wrong type of person?

Malcolm Parkin

Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross

Moving on

It seems that just about every other day we get vehement letters complaining about the SNP, and often harping back to Scotland’s independence referendum and instructing people to move on. I wonder if the writers would consider the irony of their claims?

Since that referendum the SNP were elected to 56 out of 59 available seats at Westminster by the Scottish electorate, and just two weeks ago were again returned as the preferred party (therefore viewed as having the preferred policies) by over 46 per cent of votes cast – that’s more than Conservative and Labour put together. And an increase over the previous election in 2011. Is it not true, therefore, that the constant negative opinions about them in letters to this page represent only a minority view?

It is time now for those who have been enthusiastic in their negative views to reflect on the guidance they have suggested, and accept that the voice of the people has been heard – repeatedly – and it’s quite strongly in favour of the SNP’s policies. Is it time for those who would continually re-fight old battles to read the instructions on the medicine bottle they have been prescribing for others and accept the recent votes and move on?

Richard Anderson

Thornton, Leicestershire

Dream on

Ian Lakin (Letters, 18 May) is, once again, absolutely right in his analysis of the situation confronting us, as we turn our face to the prospect of another term of Nationalist administration. It contrasts neatly with the views of Linda McIlvenna.

Given the austere forecasts of a “black hole” in the Scottish economy, something that has been delivered repeatedly since the referendum in 2014, the First Minister must abandon her “dreams” and start to provide strong, practical government. If, within the next five years, she and her ministers can restore some authority and credibility to the country, then there might be a case for seeking a public view on independence.

Meanwhile, for the separatists to harp on about “the people of Scotland” having the right to determine whether there should be a referendum, is just plain silly. How on earth is the will of the public to be determined, other than by a referendum? Any summer campaign that aims to dispel the “poor, wee, stupid, country” rhetoric, would be a meaningless exercise of SNP propaganda, based on their findings and their agenda, which is to pursue forever the “dream” of independence.

Hamish Alldridge

Pittenweem, Fife

Paranoia party

To my certain knowledge, the only people who have ever used the “much quoted” remarks about Scotland “being too poor, too wee, too stupid” have been SNP enthusiasts or spin doctors. So I am unsure at whom Linda McIlvenna (Letters, 18 May) is directing her wrath.

Clearly the SNP, despite their undoubted electoral success, have not thrown off their legendary paranoia.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Trump the SNP

Reading Charles M Blow’s article (Scottish Perspective, Scotsman, 18 May), it was all too easy to imagine that he could have been describing the SNP (I do not include the content of paragraph 14). The title says it all really.

EP Carruthers

New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Osborne’s jobs

The SNP have slung many a derogatory remark over the years at George Osborne who manages to fill the finance and economics post for the UK as a whole, a job that the Scottish Government see a need to separate. I wonder if deep down they are envious that one person can handle a job that requires two people up here to tackle, despite being an order of magnitude smaller in scale?

Ken Currie

Liberton Drive, Edinburgh

Talent vacuum

The obvious dearth of talent amongst SNP MSPs has been clearly demonstrated by the Scottish Cabinet’s appointments.

I find it astonishing that Angela (“the figures have went down”) Constance who was an unmitigated disaster as education secretary, has been given another position, in charge of welfare.

Under Shona Robison the NHS in Scotland has suffered terribly yet she retains her job.

Are these amongst the best the SNP has in its ranks? We can look forward to the same tired old pledges about “remaining committed to providing excellence”, “leaving no stone unturned” etc whilst absolutely nothing will change under this moribund robot government where absolute loyalty is demanded to the exclusion of original thinking and dissent from the party line is forbidden.

Donald Lewis

East Lothian

Beeching reversed

The closure of the railway from Edinburgh to Carlisle in 1969 is definitely the most acutely felt of all Dr Beeching’s rail closures in Scotland and if the rail route from Edinburgh to Carlisle were to be re-opened it would be the right decision (your report, 17 May). However, there may be complexities other than those David Mundell has pointed out.

In Hawick, the station has been demolished and a sports centre has been built on the site. The railway viaduct across the Teviot has also been demolished. At Melrose, the old station has been preserved, an indication of how much the railway is missed, but a road has been built on the former trackbed.

If the railway were to be re-connected to these towns, land would have to be purchased to build stations on alternate sites together with land on which to build the track leading to these new stations. There will also be other parts of the line which I have not mentioned where similar problems will be encountered.

I am all for the reinstatement of the whole Waverley Route. I travelled behind the Union Of South Africa down to Tweedbank last September and I was very impressed. As I have pointed out, though, rebuilding the whole route may be easier said than done.

Robert Kelly

Bonhill Road, Dumbarton

Clone wars

The University of Texas reports that one its medical research teams has managed to genetically engineer a clone of the Zika virus strain.

This is a major breakthrough in the development of counter-measures to the virus and may show how it has evolved to spread faster and cause more severe disease.

Of course, as the SNP government has declared genetic engineering to be unethical, Scottish tourists may not be allowed to benefit from this research.

(Dr) John Cameron

Howard Place, St Andrews

Honours even

There was a time, not so long ago, when criticism of the Royal Family would have been effectively censored by the media. In recent times, however, we have grown up as a democracy and debate as to the role and future of the monarchy has been encouraged. The recent decision of some MSPs to pledge their allegiance to the people rather than the monarch has to be seen as a further step towards a nation growing up.

The reality is that many people see the monarchy as an outmoded institution – it seems the bestowal of “honours” is what really sustains the Royals.

One can’t help but agree with the late writer JG Ballard who, after turning down a knighthood, described the whole system as “a Ruritanian charade that helps prop up a top heavy monarchy”.

D Mitchell

The Glebe , Cramond, Edinburgh