Tax is not answer

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Dr Stewart Clark is among many whose detestation of the SNP, and of independence, blinkers their vision on Westminster-created constitutional matters that dominate Holyrood (Letters, 25 July).

Their problem is that the constitution does not permit much by way of interpretation – it is written in the statute, so it is not so much a case of “blaming” Westminster, as attributing responsibility there.

I’m sure Dr Clark did not intend to mislead when he linked the 2014 referendum with the so-called new powers which do not come in until 2017 – these are the Smith proposals in the 2016 Scotland Act. Leaving aside Calman, the powers we have now are basically those operating when we had the Labour-led coalition from 1999 to 2007, but I do not recall any criticism of that regime and of the Scottish economy then. Of course, then we had a “partnership”, as John (now Lord) Reid never stopped telling us, between Westminster Labour and Holyrood Labour – and we all know where that ended up: Labour out, SNP in.

There is a major contradiction (despite his comments about Catriona Clark and me) in Dr Clark blaming the Westminster Tory government for its budget and for public sector austerity in paying off the debt, when Labour’s £160bn 2010 deficit created it. His challenge to the SNP to increase tax (which would apply to whichever party was in power at Holyrood) compounds the austerity issue: to compensate the cuts would simply pass the austerity into taxpayers’ pockets! Paradoxically, that would not result in any additional spending. Furthermore, any cuts from Westminster would enhance our viability.

Douglas R Mayer

Thomson Crescent, Currie, Midlothian

Follow Malta’s lead

Oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood has warned that Scotland would have little influence in the EU.His remarks cannot go unchallenged.

Malta, at 17 miles long, 9 miles wide and covering 122sq miles is the smallest nation in the EU. The population is 430,000 and the EU is very popular there today.The EU spent €0.255bn there last year.

In 2017 Malta will have the Presidency of The Council of the EU.They have six MEPs.They have a commissioner.There are Maltese in every institution of the EU and they have far more influence than Scotland. How much does Sir Ian want?At the moment EU Landlocked countries farcically discuss Scottish fishing and we are excluded!

Wherever you go in Malta, you see the signs “Funded By The EU” eg the many modern roads, new tourist attractions, heritage protection,a biotechnology park, the film industry, fishing, farming etc. Unemployment is the third lowest in the EU.

Of course, all is not sweetness and light.The restrictions on their appalling bird hunters were not met favourably and Malta would like, reasonably, far more help with the influx of refugees.

Even so, Malta has had huge benefits from the EU, as will we. We must remain in the EU and no country will offer more support than Malta.

John V Lloyd

Keith Place, Inverkeithing, Fife

Economic boost

Tim Flinn (Letters, 25 July) trots out a well-rehearsed line from the Project Fear playbook in claiming that another Scottish referendum would be an “indyref Sword of Damocles”, creating uncertainty that would “threaten Scotland’s economic future”.

One of the benefits of having lived through an independence referendum in recent times is that we can test such claims against what actually happened.

I did exactly that, and found that 2013 and 2014 were, according to Ernst & Young’s annual Attractiveness Survey, amongst the best years on record in terms of attracting inward investment to Scotland.

Perhaps, on inward investment grounds alone, we should hold another such referendum as soon as possible?

C Hegarty

Glenorchy Road, North Berwick

EU stops self rule

Mr Robertson, SNP commons leader, claimed Scotland is “on the brink of independence”.

Well, as a person who voted for independence I can assure him I will not be voting for indepence again! Why? Because I am a Brexit supporter and want Scotland to have nothing to do with the EU, and with SNP being so pro EU, am of the opinion that by taking this stance Scotland will never be independent.

John Connor

David Henderson Court, Dunfermline, Fife

SNP paints mirage

The SNP have proved to be masters of political guile and populist rhetoric. The result has been more people than ever before embracing the cause of nationalism, even if many of their supporters feel uncomfortable thinking of themselves as nationalists.

Yet every day across the country, in accident and emergency departments, classrooms, and even sadly, the scenes of accidents, the people of Scotland discover you cannot run a country on ideology.

The SNP have painted a tempting picture of what Scotland can be, if only they are given more and more powers, despite the mess they have been making of those they already have. How long before the people of Scotland see that picture revealed as the mirage it really is?

Keith Howell

West Linton, Peeblesshire

Beware Dart fee

Travelling to London on holiday recently, we happened to drive over the M25 Dartford Crossing, where road signs mentioned a crossing fee but gave no indication whatsoever of how much and how to pay.

We’d intended to check it out later that day but forgot.

On returning to work a colleague pointed out that I should have paid the charge within 24 hours of crossing otherwise I could be fined.

I duly visited “Dart charge” online and paid £2.50 for my single crossing, thereby avoiding a potential fine of up to £70.

I thought I’d alert fellow readers for awareness.

Brian Watt

Hainburn Park, Hunters Tryst, Edinburgh

EU deal unlikely

Lesley Riddoch (Scotsman, 25 July) reports on a possible deal being put together with the UK and the EU, with possible access to the single market, together with a cap on free movement of people for perhaps seven years.

A pity it took Brexit for this to happen; apparently Cameron asked for something similiar before polling day, but was rebuffed – such a compromise would probably have swung the result the other way.

Still, no use crying over spilled milk; however, the SNP cannot be happy at such a possible compromise (which may please a lot of people) – they need discontent to fuel the fires of independence, and hope they can get a second referendum out of it.

William Ballantine

The Quarryknowes, Dean Road, Bo’ness, West Lothian

Slowly, stories from the recent referendum begin to emerge.

We are now told that David Cameron, sensing danger towards the end of the campaign over the political danger of immigration, asked Angela Merkel for some kind of gesture. However, nothing doing, and the rest, as they say, is history.

If the EU will not budge over an issue of democratic concern, then it is ultimately doomed. The people who will benefit from this are usually right-wing nationalist parties, which are thriving at the moment. It could be destroyed by the forces it seeks to consign to history.

William Ballantine

Dean Road, Bo’ness, West Lothian.

Recruit migrants

The SNP continues to take a bashing in your columns over its focus on constitutional issues at the expense of social and economic ones. Dennis Forbes-Grattan (Letters, 25 July) provides a useful list of problems which are having an adverse effect on our daily lives.

Here in the Northeast the problem of recruitment of doctors and teachers is now chronic, particularly in rural areas, to which it appears professionals are reluctant to locate. As a result medical practices are closing, merged practices are so understaffed that appointment lags of two weeks are commonplace, and third-sector groups are being approached by the NHS to provide volunteer transport to get people without cars to appointments in neighbouring towns.

At the same time Europe has become a destination of choice for millions of refugees. Brexiteers have assured us that immigration will be curbed, but would it not make sense to have a recruitment drive directed at those migrants (potentially) qualified to work as doctors, nurses and teachers, thereby attacking two problems at once?

Bob Peden

Causewayend Crescent, Aberchirder

Litter is UK-wide

With regards to the letter about litter(Scotsman, 25 July), Edinburgh is not alone with this problem.

My husband and I have recently returned from a river cruise on the Danube which took in Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest and a few smaller towns. What struck everyone on the ship was the cleanliness and lack of litter in these cities.

We were a very mixed group but almost everyone commented on the litter in British towns. Children are taught not to drop litter, so what happens when they grow up?

Mrs Fiona Moore

Eglintoun Drive, Dunfermline

Fewer errors please

It is a relief to find that I am not the only person who shouts at news reporters who say “floor” when “ground” is the correct term (Harry Watson, Letters, July 23 and Carolyn Taylor, Letters, July 25). The incorrect usage of “less” and “fewer” is equally irritating and also results in shouts at offenders on the television.

Perhaps it is a sign of advancing years. My English teacher must be birling in his grave.

Patricia Macinnes

Woodlands Street, Milngavie, Glasgow

Plenty of 20s

I live on a cul-de-sac on the outskirts of Edinburgh. A 20mph sign was recently erected, followed by three 4-metre long painted road signs also proclaiming “20”.

The main road to the school has a 30mph speed limit, the part nearest to the school restricted to 20 at certain times. Worthy aims, overblown production.

I presume the funding has come from the remaining balance in the pothole account.

A Grant Gordon

Clayhills Park, Balerno, Edinburgh