Education cuts

The reports of the drastic cuts in financial support for the poorest students in Scotland are the latest evidence of educational reality flying in the face of SNP rhetoric.

Anyone supporting the SNP because of their supposed anti-austerity philosophy is either delusional or hypocritical.

At all levels in education, SNP policy has been to support the middle class and the advantaged at the expense of the disadvantaged.

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South of the Border, literacy and numeracy rates are higher than in Scotland, the Pupil Premium systematically offers schools in disadvantaged areas significant extra financial support and the rate of university entrance for the poorest students is more than twice our level.

Add to that the drastic cut in college places in Scotland. After eight years, just what has the SNP done for disadvantaged young people? Absolutely nothing.

Education is the single most powerful tool society has to promote social justice and opportunity for all. It is outrageous that the SNP has entrenched inequality and widened the attainment gap in Scotland.

It is also frightening to think what havoc they could wreak with our outstanding universities if their plans to interfere with them go ahead.

Carole Ford

Former president, School Leaders Scotland

Terregles Avenue, Glasgow

Missing a beat

According to the chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), Sara Thornton, and Craig Mackey, the deputy commissioner of the Met Police, routine bobbies on the beat have come to an end.

What next? An announcement that Elvis Presley has died?

Mark Boyle

Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone

Irish perspective

Peter Jones (Perspective, 27 October) makes an interesting comparison between Scotland and Ireland, but it is important to get the timelines right.

Our current situation in Scotland can most accurately be compared with the early and middle 1800s in Ireland when a long and determined effort was made over several decades to develop a sense of Irish national identity in the populace.

This was done through literature, music, the press and the use of Nationalist-minded politicians and other civic leaders to continually make the case to ordinary people who were much more mixed in their views up to that point.

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To gain power, this diversity of opinion had to be replaced with a more uniform view of the world, something that could be more easily controlled and directed.

The techniques used by the SNP were all in evidence then. They even had a newspaper called The National. It’s true.

The trouble came later. The civil war that Peter Jones dismisses arose because what was announced as independence wasn’t really independence at all, and when some people worked this out, anger and frustration took over, and this boiled over in to the streets.

It was the fundamentalists against the gradualists, and this is the faultline that has endured for so long.

Scotland would not have descended in to civil war if we had a Yes vote last year, but lack of clarity over what had been endorsed would have caused all sorts of problems. Having their currency pegged to the pound sterling kept the Irish economy in the doldrums for the next 50 years, with all the emigration and unnecessary tears that this entailed.

The parallels with Scotland today are that the building up of national sentiment phase is still ongoing, but lack of clarity over what independence actually means could lead to all sorts of problems in the future, especially if a successful vote was very close.

And, of course, the currency always was an issue, as Scottish nationalists now agree, although they didn’t before the vote last year.

In summary, it will be the period in front of us that determines historical comparisons, not what has happened in Scotland up to now. That is why we must learn the lessons of what happened in Ireland.

Victor Clements

Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Steel deal

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It would be churlish to point out the flaw in business minister Fergus Ewing’s action instructing Transport Scotland to investigate what moves could be 
taken to help the beleaguered steel sector (your report, 28 October).

However, given the hypocrisy and ineptitude shown by the SNP government, which allowed our biggest infrastructure project – the new Forth Bridge – to be built with no 
Scottish steel or concrete, I 
think this flaw should be exposed and put on the very record that they want to be judged against.

Ken Currie

Liberton Drive, Edinburgh

Nuclear horror

I would agree with every word of Caroline Taylor’s vivid description of the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Letters, 28 October), but I do not follow her logic in claiming that nuclear
bombs are the worst form of bombing.

Her argument seems to be that it is acceptable for hundreds, and possibly thousands, to be killed or suffer the trauma and after effects of other forms of indiscriminate bombing either in one attack or several.

Our conscience should only trouble us if one nuclear attack results in thousands of casualties!

Henry L Philip

Grange Loan, Edinburghf

I agree entirely with the spirit of Carolyn Taylor’s letter in her abhorrence of nuclear warfare in general but she overlooks two important factors in this particular case which have to be acknowledged.

Strategically, the decision to use nuclear force in 1945 was defensible in terms of the estimated one million lives, both Japanese and American, which it saved and the horror of lengthening the war by at least two years.

Also, the word “genocide” is misused. There was no deliberate intension to permanently destroy a whole generation of people. Only the Nazis tried to do that.

Peter Laidlaw

Bramdean Rise, Edinburgh

Tampon tax

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To tax tampons, or not to tax tampons; that should have been the question.

Instead the House of Commons merely voted that David Cameron should raise the issue of their VAT status in negotiations with the European Commission.

If the parliament of a country of more than 60 million people does not have the power to exempt female hygiene products from a tax then there is a problem.

Only by leaving the European Union will we return power to our parliaments in London and Edinburgh and regain the ability to make decisions that benefit real people.

Otto Inglis

Inverarlmond Grove, Edinburgh

Invention of TV

Aidan Smith claimed that “We invented the goggle-box” (“History of television puts comic heroes in their place”, Perspective, 27 October).

By “we” does he mean the Scots, or just John Logie Baird?
Primacy in this matter is disputed, with many people being involved in various attempts and systems.

Baird did invent an electro-mechanical form of television apparatus, but one that was eventually abandoned in favour of the more practical and clearer all-electronic system invented by the American Philo Farnsworth and later marketed by Marconi-EMI.

Some credit for the invention of modern TV should go to Vladimir Kosma Zworykin, a Russian-born American inventor working for Westinghouse, although Farnsworth was able to demonstrate a working 

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The urge to claim modern TV as a Scottish invention should be resisted.

Steuart Campbel

Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Sugar tax

Martyn McLaughlin’s article, “Cutting sugar without calories...” (Perspective, 21 October), suggests that there are those who seek to put the government under pressure to introduce a sugar tax that would make 
food more expensive for every one.

There is another solution, namely to persuade our politicians to pass legislation that would enforce the maximum amount of sugar and salt permissible in all food and drink.

If this was done, in the ensuing decade, deaths from sugar and salt-related diseases would begin to fall like a stone. The savings to the NHS would be enormous. The population would be no poorer and certainly healthier.

Historically,“political/social” engineering for health is not new.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s city fathers introduced clean water to cities up and down the UK, which led to mortality rates from water-borne diseases falling like a stone in the ensuing decades.

There are some among us who say: “So, we have health problem; don’t cure it. Tax it!”

Result: a s- l- o- w solution, if there is any at all!

Their solution strains all credulity, particularly when history shows that political intervention can have relatively swift and dramatic results in a couple of decades or less.

Ten years would soon see some difference.

George Mossman

Letham, Fife

Rugby world

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In response to the call to expand the Six Nations to include Georgia and Romania, may I suggest that, based on this year’s 
Rugby World Cup standings, a top tier of the four northern hemisphere quarter-finalists and a second tier comprising the two newcomers grouped with Italy and England, none of whom qualified for the knock-out stages.

Perhaps at Murrayfield we could sing “How low’s yer Chariot noo then ?”...ah sweet “Schadenfreude”!

John Nisbet

Auchencrow Mains, Reston

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