EU speaks peace

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IF ON 23 June Britain votes to leave the EU, we will be turning our back on Europe, turning our backs on the most ambitious project of voluntary co-operation between democratic nations ever attempted.

Of course we may be able to negotiate mutually beneficial trade and security agreements with the EU and individual countries where our interests coincide, as the Brexit camp claims, but we will have rejected the much bigger vision of bringing together the peoples of Europe.

The claim by Brexit supporters that it is Nato not the EU which guarantees peace in Europe seems to demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the European project. Nato is a military alliance born out of fear of an external common enemy; the EU is a project to bring together the peoples of Europe to ensure that war between countries on this formerly war-torn continent is unthinkable.

Military alliances come and go; fostering a culture of peaceful co-operation and good neighbourliness is an altogether more inspirational goal.

Joan Mitchell

Newton Stewart

Hard-right aims

The billionaire businessman who has given £3 million to the campaign to leave the EU has also told us how he would like Britain to change if we vote to leave.

He says that British employees have too many rights – despite having fewer rights than workers anywhere else in western Europe – and maternity leave for women should be cut, along with flexitime and part-time working.

He says we should model ourselves on Singapore. In Singapore, workers have few rights. In 2012, a bus driver was jailed for six weeks for organising a strike, while other drivers were sent warning letters by the police. There is no effective minimum wage in Singapore, just like it was in Britain under Margaret Thatcher and John Major until Labour introduced the National Minimum Wage.

Once again, we see the hard right agenda behind the campaign to leave Europe.

Phil Tate

Craiglockhart Road, Edinburgh

Farage and SNP

It would seem Nigel Farage is now subscribing to the SNP ideas of what a referendum means – if you lose then forget the economic catastrophe the uncertainty another would bring to a country and just have another and presumably keep going back until you get the result you wish. UKIP and the SNP – strange bedfellows indeed.

But the truth is his remarks reduce the EU referendum to a farce and UK politics to a laughing stock world-wide.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Hidden agenda

We have had many concocted horror and scare stories from EU-obsessed politicians over the past few weeks. Things must be pretty desperate when the Prime Minister recently claimed that a Brexit vote will inevitably mean… wait for it… World War 3! We shouldn’t be surprised if they tell us next that the sun will explode or that the North Sea will dry up.

You can be assured that the greatest horror story of all is one that none of them will tell the British public.

It is one that should startle us all into leaving one of the most corrupt, dishonest and misleading institutions in the western world on 23 June 2016.

Yes, it is high time we got off this run-away express train, that is heading for a dark and forbidding destination, over which we have no control.

The people of Scotland, and the UK, ought to be aware that the EU wants to undermine national sovereignty and eventually build a federal European super-state run by the political elite. To achieve this ultimate goal, they will use political propaganda of crooked magnitude.

Winston Churchill once said: “We are with Europe but not of it. We are linked but not compromised. We are associated but not absorbed. And should a European Statesman address us and say, ‘Shall we speak for thee?’ We should reply, ‘Nay Sir, for we dwell among our own people’.”

Truly, it is time to get off the EU runaway train at the next Brexit.

Donald J Morrison

Old Edinburgh Road, Inverness

House prices

During the Scottish elections the scandalous lack,and high price of, housing for young families was hardly mentioned and no groundbreaking policies proposed. This is a major cause of poverty and the huge housing benefit bill.

House prices and public sector rents are at least three times higher in real terms than in the 60s.

It is a disincentive to people to settle down and have the families that politicians say we need to grow the workforce and pay for all us oldies.

So the news that Bank of England governor Mark Carney and Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, predict that house prices will crash after a Brexit may just have won a large swathe of voters for the “Leave” side.

Allan Sutherland

Willow Row, Stonehaven

SNP success

Contrary to what the media would have us believe, the SNP had a very successful election campaign. They won a historic third successive Holyrood term; they increased their vote share (recording a higher percentage vote share than any other current European government); they polled more than 1 million votes (the first time any party has achieved this post devolution); and in the constituency vote they won 59 seats, surpassing their previous record of 53 in 2011.

The SNP total of 63 seats is more than all of the Unionist seats put together, and with the addition of the Greens, this Parliament has a substantial pro-independence majority.

Scotland’s constitutional question is far from settled and I welcome the SNP’s summer independence campaign which will seek to dispel the oft-quoted rhetoric that Scotland is “too wee, too poor and too stupid” to stand on its own feet.

By addressing the concerns of No voters and by making a strong case for the benefits and many positives that independence entails, this initiative intends to build broader public support and strengthen the case that independence is the best future for Scotland.

Linda McIlvenna

Pinewood Place, Lenzie

Offensive act

There is little doubt that the SNP administration were acting in good faith when passing the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act but in reality this act is so badly constructed and worded it has now been described by the judiciary of Scotland as unworkable mince.

The SNP must react to the overwhelming criticism and scrap this example of poor legislation and leave the overworked police to get on with their work by applying as required the existing law of breach of the peace which has served Scottish law and society well for many years.

Dennis Forbes Grattan

Mugiemoss Road, Bucksburn, Aberdeen

We the people

John Swinney said yesterday “The SNP will always work together with other parties when it is in the interests of the people of Scotland”.

Firstly, this statement implies that the SNP has a monopoly of wisdom as to what is in the interests of Scotland – it doesn’t. Secondly, am I alone in loathing the phrase “people of Scotland”? (You don’t hear English politicians talking about the “people of England”,)

The phrase “people of Scotland”, instead of simply the Scots, implies a sense of self-importance which the inhabitants of this part of the British Isles neither seek nor warrant.

Andrew Hamilton

Forbes Lodge, Gifford

Vote defended

In response to the letter by JW McLean published in The Scotsman on 14 May, I would argue that the election of Ken Macintosh, both in his region as MSP and within the parliament as Presiding Officer, is evidence that democracy has prevailed. Here are the facts, from another perspective.

Fact 1: Mr Macintosh did not stand in a Glasgow constituency – he stood in Eastwood in the West Scotland region where he won 31 per cent of the vote – hardly what I would call being “roundly rejected… by the electorate”.

Fact 2: Scottish Labour published their full list of candidates for each region in February 2016. Therefore, any of the more than 72,000 voters in West Scotland who chose to use their regional vote for Labour would be able to see who they were likely to elect.

Fact 3: Rather than being “out in the cold”, Scotland’s electorate have a great deal of sway in the AMS elections to Holyrood. The results of this year’s election have been very proportional. Labour won 21 per cent of the total votes cast and were rewarded with 19 per cent of the seats in parliament. Similarly, the Conservatives won 22 per cent of the vote and 24 per cent of the seats.

These results are far more representative than those of the general election last year. Labour won 24 per cent of the Scottish vote, and the Conservatives 15 per cent, yet both parties received only 2 per cent of the Westminster seats in Scotland. It has to be said, therefore, that AMS reflects more accurately the wishes of Scottish voters.

On the election of the Presiding Officer, it could be argued that the secrecy allows backbench MSPs of all parties the opportunity to vote for a member of another party to hold their own to account.

The fact that an MSP from the third largest party in parliament is in such a position means at worst there will be an equal amount of bias when checking both the First Minister and leader of the opposition.

Thomas Tyrrell

Main Street, Callander

Plans changed

Stephen Edwards (Letters, 14 May) complains that Scottish ministers frequently ignore “public opinion” by upholding appeals against refusals of planning consent.

Decisions , however, are required to be made on the basis of official national, regional and local policies which have been adopted only after lengthy public consultation. There must be a fair level of certainty as to what will happen.

Only a small percentage of people usually object to applications and it should not be assumed that these represent the views of the majority. Opinion polls are unreliable. There are often conflicts between national/regional policies and local interests. Few want power stations, sewage works, high-speed roads/railways or prisons built close by. Many do not even want other homes there. (Those who would occupy these are not known and therefore are not consulted). However, most accept that such are needed but don’t want them in their vicinity.

“Nimbyism” means “not in MY backyard” (but fine in someone else’s backyard?).

Ministers must consider wider and longer-term interests than councils and it is the norm in most countries that national interests as decided by central governments take precedence over local ones. Examples airport extensions by-pass roads, HS2 and power generators (including wind turbines)

Alan Mathieson

Glasgow Road, Perth