Surely even Alex Salmond’s nearest and dearest must have experienced a slight frisson of embarrassment at the picture of him with his grotesque commemorative tablet. The charging of tuition fees is a matter for the Scottish Parliament on behalf of the people of Scotland. It is not in Mr Salmond’s gift. And of course, not every student in Scotland enjoys this largesse, for the funding of free places at Scotland’s universities has been made possible by the elimination of more than 100,000 places in the further education sector.
For all the fine words about vocational training, these students have suffered from the widespread educational snobbery that regards a craft or vocational qualification as second best.
And yet Scotland’s commercial and industrial future is heavily reliant on these very people who have been excluded.
No one in the SNP will discuss it – even our new First Minister answers the question with a narrative about being the first person in her family to go to university. As though that answered anything.
The process of laying waste to the further education colleges was far from transparent. Whatever danger we have to look forward to from any administration unchecked by a balance of power in Holyrood is a good deal closer to home than a geological meltdown.
Will a’ the seas gang dry before Alex Salmond admits that no tuition fees for university students under his watch was achieved at the cost of huge cuts in further education, depriving thousands of improved life chances, schools being underfunded to the point where parents’ contributions mean it is no longer free, and telling us that pre-school provision could only be improved with independence?
A fairer taxation system is the obvious answer, taking more from the broadest shoulders, but instead with policies such as the cut in corporation tax and continuing freeze on council tax, wealth would be redistributed upwards.
Colin Hamilton (Letters, 19 November) seems to be a great fan of Alex Salmond, although apparently unaware of that fact. He attributes to Alex almost god-like powers and successes in transforming the SNP.
He even states that the SNP has undergone such a metamorphosis that it must be barely recognisable to traditional supporters.
Well, as somebody coming up to 52 years’ membership, I can say that, like everything unionists say, Mr Hamilton’s statements are half-correct.
He says that Alex transformed the SNP’s approach to the EU. No – that was Jim Sillars in the early 1980s when it was the Common Market.
I was at the conference where that happened and the subsequent National Council confirming the details. Years back we were pro-Nato, then not, then in Perth last year pro-Nato again, so I’ll give him that one.
I always voted pro-Nato when motions came up, having served in the Nato multi-national air-portable brigade, so I’m happy.
I’m not sure what he means about the Queen. Again we confirmed ourselves in the 1980s as accepting the monarchy until and if a future referendum decides otherwise (in Dundee, if I remember correctly – I was there).
There has been no change on that one. As for the pound, we have indeed moved ground there, I’m not aware anybody denies that.
I recognise changes: the party of hundreds which I joined, that sometimes struggled to keep going, is soon to lead Scotland to independence despite the screeches of the anti-Scottish brigade.
Change is normal. The Tories lived with a great deal of nationalised industry till Thatcher came along. Clause 4 was the beating heart of Labour till Tony Blair turned that party into a Tory clone. The Whigs became Liberals became Unionists in one direction and became LibDems facing extinction in another.
I will be presumptuous and suggest even Colin Hamilton has changed. Maybe not much, but at least a tad – from playing cowboys and Indians to playing cowboy unionists.
Thomas R Burgess
St Catherine’s Square
As Alex Salmond bows out of Scottish politics it is interesting to learn that had he remained with RBS the financial crash would never have happened. Just think how much more useful a life that would have been, to have saved the global economy from collapse and the consequent hardship endured by working people as a result.
Instead, his legacy, while failing to divide the Union, has been to leave Scotland deeply divided over nationalism.