I take it as a compliment that the SNP’s Alex Orr has taken the trouble to attack the UK Independence Party (Letters, 4 March).
In essence, Mr Orr’s argument is that Ukip mainly attracts disgruntled Conservatives, hence, as that party is weak in Scotland, Ukip has a limited pool from which to recruit.
Recent by-election results show that this argument is misleading. In Corby, Rotherham and Eastleigh by-elections, both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat votes fell heavily, giving Ukip three successive record percentages for Westminster by-elections (14 per cent, 22 per cent and 28 per cent).
Significantly, each of these seats was held by a different party, and only Eastleigh is a southern constituency.
The heart of Ukip’s appeal is, as its leader Nigel Farage pointed out, that all the established parties are social democratic. All are committed to high taxes, heavy regulation, a large state with Keynesian economics, our laws being made in Brussels and political correctness.
Ukip offers voters an alternative vision: lower taxes, less bureaucracy, economic sanity, our laws being made democratically on this island, a federal Britain and, of course, individual freedom.
This alternative is increasingly finding support in Scotland, with ex-SNP supporters now starting to switch to Ukip.
Secretary, Ukip (Edinburgh & Lothians)
Was I alone in spotting the rather obvious flaw in the offerings of Professor Scheffer (your report, 4 March), whose legal opinion is so important to the very shaky SNP case for a separate Scotland remaining part of the EU?
Prof Scheffer maintains that Scots are “EU citizens and would have a right to claim continuing citizenship”. The nub of the matter is, of course, “continuing citizenship” of an EU state.
If Scotland were to divorce itself from the rest of the UK, it ceases to be part of that state. Its citizens, who do not retain their British nationality (many would wish to do so, of course) would become citizens of a new state called Scotland.
Citizenship of that new state will not come with additional benefits (if that is the appropriate word) of EU “citizenship” because they will have renounced that along with their British citizenship. To be an EU citizen, one must be a citizen of an EU member state.
Perhaps Prof Sheffer can point to any state in the EU or outside whose citizens are purely and simply EU citizens and not citizens of any other state too? It is a sine qua non and indivisible.
Picking and choosing whether or not to be an “EU citizen” is not something that would be in the gift of the government of a new state whose very creation exiles it from the EU. Thus, the argument that, somehow or other, having former EU citizens in its population confers continuing EU membership on the state that they occupy, is an utter nonsense.
Equally, the idea that somehow or other, Scotland would get all the goodies (eg oil) without any of the liabilities (ie a share of the national debt) is risible.
That would be a matter for negotiation and the UK has some very tough cookies who would not take No for an answer.
The SNP should start getting used to it; the people of Scotland are wise to its legerdemain. It may have fooled a lot of Scots into voting for it as a party of government, but it will not fool us when it comes to determining our future continuation as part of the United Kingdom.
Andrew HN Gray
So much for Mr Cameron’s firm assurances after Eastleigh that Conservative policy would not swerve to the right to counter Ukip’s electoral threat.
This week’s announcement of benefit cuts for EU immigrants (with the presumably attractive side-effect of further restricting benefit entitlements for some UK citizens) looks suspiciously like a desperate sop to the Ukip vote-stealers.
The decision by the Prime Minister and senior Conservatives to inflame public fears about immigration from Romania and Bulgaria when restrictions are lifted next year is cynical and economically nonsensical.
The year 2014 is not going to be a repeat of 2004, when emigration suddenly became possible for ambitious workers from all over Eastern Europe, and the UK was one of a handful of countries not to impose “transitional restrictions”.
With Romania and Bulgaria, full restrictions were put in place when they joined the EU in 2007, but, in any case, virtually anyone who wanted to migrate from these countries did so years ago.
The government’s own figures show that, even in the years after 2004, when EU migration levels were high, the UK economy proved flexible enough to absorb newcomers without significant impacts on other workers.
EU migrants make a substantial net contribution to the Treasury’s coffers, and are much less likely than British-born people to claim out-of-work benefits.
It is perverse to complain about a possible influx of educated, motivated young people who will certainly benefit the country’s economy. If the government was honest, it would spend its energy explaining the facts rather than perverting them for political gain.
Today’s fresh outbreak of little-Englander xenophobia is shameful.
John M Brand