EU difficulties

NICOLA Sturgeon says she will put Europe 'front and centre' in the SNP's plans going forward, while the latest ICM poll shows strong support for the Remain case (Your report, 23 May). With 63 per cent favouring staying in the European Union if don't knows are excluded, the likely result looks clear in Scotland, even if the UK-wide result is more difficult to call.

Some have noted the muted state of the EU debate north of the Border. Perhaps we are suffering a degree of referendum and election fatigue here, but equally it could result from the odd position the SNP are in on the EU. While the economic case dominates, in support of being part of this critical market for our goods and services, there are equally strong social protections and environmental benefits that can arguably appeal as much to the heart as the head.

But this rationale jars when coming from SNP leaders who we are so used to hearing claim that these things are best promoted by separating ourselves from those we are most interdependent with.

There will be a sigh of relief from SNP spin doctors when this EU campaign is over and they can revert to getting us all back on an agenda and a “message” that only pulls in one direction.

Keith Howell

West Linton, Peeblesshire

The EU referendum debate becomes more surreal each day, with David Cameron hinting at a European war and George Osborne predicting recession, and now we have Boris Johnson comparing Remain with the Nazis.

I thought the Scottish independence referendum campaign had plumbed the depths of silliness, but no.

RJ Chisholm

Clifford Road, North Berwick

Those who still place any credence in government warnings may be praying for a Remain victory so we can be spared the dreadful shock waves which would follow Brexit. A less dramatic account of the risks would be that there may be an impact upon interest and exchange rates and some prices.

It is a widespread psychological characteristic that we experience greater fear at the possible downside of change than we invest hope in the upside. Some people, however, are equipped to recognise and pursue opportunity. These are the kind of people we need to lead our great enterprises. This is because, after a Remain win or a Brexit, there will still be shocks in the future.

Shock is the permanent landscape of business life. Anticipation of shock and adaptation to shock are its keys to success. As a shareholder I would wish swiftly to replace those business executives who acknowledge that they are not up to this by inciting us to fear over Brexit.

John Riseley

Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Muirfield ruling

It is wrong to state that the members of Muirfield rejected the proposal to accept applications for membership from ladies. Some 64 per cent of those voting were happy to embrace the concept and their views were scuppered by the archaic rule that a two-thirds majority was necessary to carry the motion. Imagine the furore if a political party won 64 per cent of the vote and were told that they could not form a government.

Regrettably, the image of Muirfield is now assumed to be that of a gathering of stuffy old men with a Luddite mentality. I am not a member of Muirfield but have had the pleasure of playing there on many occasions. The membership are friendly and welcoming and possess one of the finest golf courses in the world. There are, of course, an element of members who live in the Dark Ages and it is their vote which has created the worldwide anger. Hopefully, commonsense will prevail on this issue in the not too distant future.

The baton of the gender issue now passes to Royal Troon, whose constitution is very similar to Muirfield. It is a great pity Troon did not have the foresight to address the issue some time ago, but the strong probability is they will vote in favour of ladies being proposed for membership.

I have no problem with any kind of club opting for single gender status. That is allowed by the law. But I have a serious problem accepting that clubs which ignore the majority wishes of the members are acting in the spirit of the law.

T Morton Dewar

Alloway, Ayr

In these dark days of EU referendum angst, I was greatly cheered to see the large volume of letters re Muirfield GC v The Monstrous Regiment as surely it indicates that a great many people have nothing serious to worry about.

S Beck

Craigleith Drive, Edinburgh

Christian values

I found Jim Duffy’s lament on the erosion of Christianity’s traditional certainties touching (Perspective, 20 May). His personal voyage illustrates the power of education and the efficacy of science over the past two or three centuries. The inevitability of gradualness. Once people asked themselves the question, can you name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever, the seeds of reasoned doubt were sown.

Doug Clark

Currie, Midlothian

Auld identities

On Sunday I went to the Jacobites and Redcoats Re-enactment at Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire. It was informative and great fun.

My children especially enjoyed the volley of muskets as the enemy forces engaged, and at one point the boy of another family loudly cheered a Redcoat volley. But then something funny happened. The boy’s mother turned to him and hushed him. “Be quiet,” she said. “They’re the English, they’re the enemy. We are the Jacobites – we’re Scots!”

“But I want to support the one in red!” protested the boy. “You’ll do no such thing,” said his mother, “or else you’re walking home.”

This amusing exchange made me think. Apart from having been deeply moved, one of the things I took from a recent visit to Culloden was how cynically Bonnie Prince Charlie exploited the Scottish clans, who were sacrificed on the altar of European war and his own political ambition.

The clans were actually very reluctant to enter this war, and were the consequences not so sad, seeing the Jacobite rising as in any simple way being pro-Scottish or pro-Scotland would be laughable.

The other point, of course, is that the Unionist forces also contained Scots. In no real sense, therefore, was this a Scottish-English war.

Nevertheless, in the mother’s imagination – and as she was trying to teach her son – an English-Scottish war was exactly what it was, and this made me think too. The re-enactment at Crathes really meant something to the mother in terms of her Scottish identity.

My last thoughts, then, were about the way a false view of the past shapes a Scottish view of who we are today. Is it, for example, an accident that many who voted Yes at the referendum went on to identify themselves as “the 45”, since that is also a widely-used phrase for the Jacobite rising of 1745? And is it really “progressive” for Scotland to identify with events that occurred almost 300 years ago?

(Dr) Thomas Rist

King’s College, 
University of Aberdeen

Fuel for change

Oil revenue which was previously regarded as British is now regarded as Scottish for economic calculations. The huge gas find west of Shetland, which is enough to supply two million homes for years – ie, the whole of Scotland – is a massive boost to the Scottish economy and eliminates the need for fracking. Of course as it could only supply 8 per cent of Britain, the UK government will not be claiming it for their financial forecasts.

With the increased support for the SNP (whose raison d’etre is independence) in the two elections since the referendum, there is an irresistible inference that the momentum for independence is continuing to build. More gas finds and an increase in the oil price will add to the momentum.

Brian Hunter

Liberton Place, Edinburgh

Farming facts

While there are figures awash and it is difficult to know all the facts, the delayed payments to farmers (Your report, 19 May)is a real eye-opener.

Questions abound. Did we really agree to a budget of £100 million on the required IT, for the payments system? Did we really overspend by another £78m – and it still doesn’t work? Was the IT system required, our government’s choice, or compulsory, from Brussels? If either, what does it say about either the incompetence and profligacy of our government, or the same government’s stupidity in telling us we would be better to remain in this incompetent European cabal?

If another matter in the news recently was “indefensible” then has this fiasco also been indefensible?

While the government and its supporters talk of “100 per cent focus” in resolving the matter, without a moment’s apology for obviously not having applied 100 per cent focus in the period up to now, how many of us knew there were 53,000 farms in Scotland? (Source: Audit Scotland).

The whole thing has been rather eye-watering.

Clive Murray

Sunningdale, Elgin