Speak freely

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There was irony in the Letters columns (3 February) when Roger Cartwright’s opinion – that our right to freedom of speech was under attack – was published in a national newspaper.

Dr Cartwright also complained that contributors to The Scotsman never criticise the Scottish Government.

The Scotsman came out publicly against independence and regularly attacks the policies of the SNP and Scottish Government, so it appears that Dr Cartwright’s idea of freedom of speech is to have a newspaper which only prints views which coincide with his own.

He writes in support of Donald Lewis and John Milne, who regularly punt the myth that all SNP members operate to a rigidly enforced vow of silence.

I think we can take it that none of these gentlemen are members of the SNP, but what is surprising is that with SNP members comprising around 2 per cent of the Scottish population they appear to have contrived to avoid meeting one.

And with a membership profile of 56 per cent male, 44 per cent female and 21 per cent under the age of 30, it’s a nonsense to suggest that the SNP leadership has the capacity or will to impose silence.

There is another irony in that supporters of the Union are almost invariably uncritical of coalition policies with two honourable exceptions.

One was Colin Hamilton, who expressed a negative opinion of George Osborne, and the other was Dr Cartwright himself, who complained when senior figures at the Admiralty talked of taking the Type 26 frigate contracts away from the Clyde.

On the issues raised by Dr Cartwright, the effect on exam appeals on state schools, while unintended, should have been foreseen and the government should reconsider. On college places, the funding council announced that priorities were being directed to courses producing jobs. This is not good for lifelong learning, but we are living in a period of imposed austerity.

I’m on record as having said that I don’t think an independent Scotland needs to be in Nato. I think we should have our own currency and I never thought that a “seamless transition” into Europe was possible. There, I’ve said it. I’m doomed.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street

Edinburgh