CAP fiasco

SCOTLAND'S taxpayers are facing up to £125 million of EU fines due to a litany of mistakes and incompetence by the SNP government. (Your report 19 May)

An Audit Scotland study revealed that hundreds of millions in support payments were not paid on time to farmers following the shambles surrounding the creation of a new failed £178m computer system.

The Scottish Government have admitted that there was an “extreme risk” all of the payments under the common agricultural policy would not be paid by the 30 June deadline.

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If this deadline is not met then as Audit Scotland said the Scottish taxpayer is liable for European fines of between £4m and £125m.

Well the SNP cannot blame this one on Westminster.

Clark Cross

Springfield Road Linlithgow

Drip fed

I have no interest in the salacious details of the “SNP love triangle” involving Angus MacNeil, Stewart Hosie and a journalist (your report, May 19).

What should be of interest to us all, however ,are the details in the call for Parliament’s standards committee to investigate. It appears that Mr MacNeill has a flat in London, which he rents out. Because of this arrangement, he apparently uses a hotel, the costs of which are picked up by the taxpayer, and allegedly his partner in the so called “triangle” has stayed there with him.

The whole thing reeks to high heaven.

In the end what will bring down the SNP and their cause will, unfortunately, not be the people of this country coming to their senses. It will be instead the steady drip, drip of questionable business practices and the breath-taking hypocrisy of its elected members.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Foreign affairs

Given the recent revelations about SNP MPs Angus MacNeil and Stewart Hosie, if Scotland did become independent and therefore England a foreign country, would Messrs MacNeil and Hosie be challenging Mr Salmond for the foreign affairs portfolio ?

Fraser MacGregor

Liberton Drive, Edinburgh

We progress

It was surprising but heartening to read the words of Richard Anderson published in The Scotsman yesterday (May 19).

While a reasonably objective assessment of the current political views of the Scottish electorate would not seem to be a “revelation”, and hardly, at least in volume of words, a counter-balance to the anti-SNP comments contained in nine other letters, it did represent “progress” in expression of the perspectives of around half, if not significantly more, of Scotland’s electorate.

Those letters of course included their interminable slants of the SNP and the Scottish Government by the “usual paranoid suspects”, to paraphrase one Alexander McKay again in the company of Keith Howell, Donald Lewis and Martin Redfern.

Hopefully in future more inspiring letters that convey genuine understanding of both sides of popular arguments will be published so that we can all learn from engaging in constructive debate.

Reading perceptions based on narrow comparisons, such as reference to a performance statistic for the NHS in one country only when that particular rating exceeds the equivalent number reported by the NHS in another country, does not enhance a broader understanding of the challenges facing the NHS in either country nor wider health and economic concerns that extend across our aging planet.

Stan Grodynski

Longniddry, East Lothian

Figure it out

Richard Anderson (Letters, 19 May) sees irony in the wish for the victors of the Scottish independence referendum to ask the SNP to “move on”. It seems that, in the world according to the SNP, no-one else’s opinion matters.

However, Mr Anderson and other adoring fans of the SNP should let the scales fall from their eyes. He thinks that the views of non-SNP voters expressed in the pages of the Scotsman “represent only a minority view”. Not so.

The turnout for the Scottish election was an earth-shattering 55.6 per cent.

This shows that almost 45 per cent of Scottish voters were so uninspired by the SNP that they could not be bothered turning up to vote for them. Of those who did, 48 per cent voted SNP and a healthy 24 per cent for the formerly-toxic Conservatives.

This means that 26.4 per cent of all Scottish voters made a conscious decision to vote SNP and 73.6 per cent did not.

Thus, Mr Anderson’s admonition that “those who would continually fight old battles… accept the recent votes and move on” is a very strong argument for the SNP to listen to.

They lost the independence referendum and almost three-quarters of Scots, given the free opportunity to vote for them did not do so. The lesson is clear. Stop whining, pay attention and start running the Scottish administration!

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive , Edinburgh

Odd bedfellows

What do Nicola Sturgeon and Nigel Farage have in common? Both admit they are unwilling to accept the democratic result of a referendum.

Martin Redfern

Royal Circus, Edinburgh

Bemusing Trump

Anyone bemused at the Trump bandwagon’s relentless path to being the presumptive presidential nominee for the Republican party, will have enjoyed the great insight and analysis of Charles Blow’s A Letter from America (Showing Trump facts is pointless’ 18 May).

Mr Blow’s explanation of how part of the American electorate are willingly turning a blind eye to Trump’s flaws ,and his wafer thin rationale for the policies he proposes, was all too believable.

Perhaps most scary is how fact-based counter arguments seem to have no impact on either Mr Trump or his supporters, who appear in the face of such critiques all the more determined to follow their leader with yet more blind fervour.

As much as Mr Trump is an extreme example of the new form of anti-establishment celebrity politician, there are many other examples in other countries around the world, including close to home in the UK and Scottish political arena.

They have found a way of building popularity on the strength of manipulating public opinion, often by appealing to the lowest common denominator, whether in blaming some people on the basis of their origins, or falsely setting out an idealised future without any credible basis of how it is to be achieved beyond separating from those who for some are a popular target of grievance.

Keith Howell

West Linton, Peeblesshire

Unfair on Trump

I find it disappointing that The Scotsman keeps publishing New York Times articles regarding Donald Trump in the A Letter From America section.

Clearly written by those of self-appointed moral superiority over the millions of Trump supporters who we can all assume can only be bigots, racists, low intelligence, uneducated misogynists as is Trump himself, we are told to believe.

Donald Trump was never associated with these negative attributes until he ran for President despite decades in the public eye. If Trump was indeed any or all of these things there would be a mass of evidence that the media could report but there is nothing there.

Trump is clearly a successful businessman, author, television personality and family man.

The thinly disguised hate directed at Trump in these articles is based on passion invoking labels with no substance behind them and are themselves bigoted, divisive and uneducated commentary.

John Ferguson

Kings Road, Longniddry

Don’t abstain

I am continually disappointed and dismayed to note the number of times elected politicians abstain from participating in a vote. This is wrong. They are elected to serve and by abstaining they indeed abstain from their duty.

If unsure of which way they should vote it is their duty to consult with their constituents and vote according to their wishes. This is indeed why they were elected in the first place.

Roy Moffat

Gilmerton, Crieff

BB priority

With mental health awareness week in full swing, I would like to commend all the hard work we are seeing from charities up and down the country, as well as the Scottish Government for its commitment to invest an additional £150million for mental health over five years.

Improving access to services and addressing the issue of mental health, particularly in young people, is an issue we should all be talking about.

Unfortunately there is still such stigma around mental health, especially in males. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics last February show the male suicide rate is the highest since 2001, which is a very troubling statistic.

The Boys’ Brigade, as a major youth organisation, has contact with 20,000 members in Scotland alone, and it is a priority for us to recognise the need to provide support and reassurance for anyone who needs it.

Earlier this year, we teamed up with the mental health charity YoungMinds UK to provide training for our young BB leaders. It gave our volunteers a chance to learn more about how to support young peoples’ emotional well-being, and how other specialist organisations can help. It also acted as a reminder that organisations like the BB can be instrumental at building resilience in young people. If we can start to get more people talking, we are already making the first step to help tackle the taboo.

We are committed to continue this support, beyond just a few events, and hopefully we can support our leaders and young people and work together with other organisations to stamp out the stigma and see these worrying figures change for the better.

Bill Stevenson

Director, The Boys’ Brigade Scotland

Carronvale House, Larbert

Checking tartan

I was always of the opinion that certain rules apply to tartan designs.

Surly a three-colour-way is a checked pattern rather than a tartan. However, whatever a great idea to recognise a true icon.

Martin Calder

Beechgrove Terrace, Aberdeen