Fanzine fandango

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I NOTE Bert de Marco’s comments re the “over exposure” of Nicola Sturgeon in The Scotsman.

The words “enough already” certainly come to mind but as far as balance is concerned,Mr de Marco is certainly not a regular reader of the letters section of the newspaper.

If anything the published correspondences generally present the SNP in anything but a favourable light.

I would only add that it was the cringingly pro-SNP slant adopted by the Herald in the run up to the referendum which led me to end my own association with that particular publication.

David Edgar

Stromness, Orkney

Like one of your correspondents in yesterday’s edition I have been a reader of The Scotsman for many years but recently this has been sustained mainly due to the crossword.

The jaw-dropping nature of some the letters complaining of the number of pictures of Nicola Sturgeon has tipped me over the edge. Thirteen of the letters and comments featured were critical of the SNP (not to mention a rather gushing panegyric of the Queen).

So for anyone to imply pro-SNP bias is just ludicrous. The Scotsman is very clearly conservative with a small and large ‘C”, in its approach to politics and one so at odds with the Scottish electorate that it does not fully reflect what is actually happening in the country.

The splenetic and blinkered nature of many of the correspondents you feature make me doubt the crossword will be enough to keep my allegiance for much longer.

Douglas Mitchell

The Glebe, Cramond

Brokering Brexit

Nicola Sturgeon is remarkably quiet in the EU campaign. Yes, she’s distracted by May’s elections – but she promised to campaign vigorously to remain in the EU.

Could her reticence be because the little campaigning she has carried out has exposed the unreasonableness of her position on UK break-up?

All the European benefits she so passionately espouses of sharing and pooling resources, of trading within and not outside key markets – of being more secure and, dare it be said, better together – apply just as appositely to the UK as to Europe. In fact, Scottish export statistics suggest even more so.

With 64 per cent of our non-oil and gas trade carried out with the rest of the UK and just 15 per cent elsewhere in the EU, whatever the result of the EU referendum, it’s surely clear which trading block is the most important for Scotland.

Martin Redfern

Royal Circus, Edinburgh

The dire financial state and threatened closure of the Port Talbot steelworks in South Wales can be blamed, in large part, on energy and carbon-limiting policies emanating from EU as well as from the Climate Change Acts, greatly harming our industrial competitiveness.

These policies, based on “token greenery,” of no conceivable benefit to the world’s climate, represent “own goals” which are destroying many of our industries.

The news, reporting on the Port Talbot steelworks did not mention the EU’s roles in contributing to this terrible reverse, with no benefits to anyone bar Chinese steelmakers.

If EU referendum voters realised the EU’s role in the debacle, many would surely agree that it is time to free our nation from such a negative influence, before all our heavy industry is lost.

(Dr) Charles Wardrop

Viewlands Road West, Perth

Fracking strange

Do I detect a whiff of hypocrisy emanating from the new Grangemouth KG ethylene plant?

In a country whose government is implacably opposed to fracking it will process fracked shale gas ethane imported from the United States. So we are quite happy to profit from others’ “misfortune”? Perhaps our First Minister should change her first name to Nimby?

Rodney Pinder

Abbotsford Grove, Kelso

You report that The First Minister has stated that unless it can be proved beyond doubt that there is no risk to health, the environment and communities, then fracking will never be allowed in Scotland (Energy giant Ineos sparks fresh fracking fears with drilling plans, 29 March). In that case, fracking will certainly not be proceeding. One cannot prove a negative.

What the First Minister should be looking for is an assurance that, so far as is known to the technologists involved, no danger to health, the environment and the communities has been found.

Steuart Campbell

Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Green for stop

I am grateful to Patrick Harvie for finally showing his true colours. His party’s policies will bankrupt our people and are already ruining our industry.

Maybe the Greens’ worship of Gaia will make them happy to live in a pre-industrial third world nation; I rather suspect that the rest of us disagree, and I look forward to seeing the voters reject his economic illiteracy along with his sanctimonious smugness.

Alan G Melville

Shaw’s Street, Edinburgh

Named persons

It has been noted that John Mason MSP (SNP Shettleston) has, in a discourse on Twitter, said: “Well someone abusing a kid would obviously not want an NP [named person]”.

This, after Ms Sturgeon claimed that the named person scheme is “not compulsory” and in fact is an “entitlement” and certainly not in any way an “obligation”, seems to suggest (in Mr Mason’s eyes) that anyone who attempts an “opt out” can be reported as a risk and possibly be smeared as a child abuser.

An important fact for us all to remember is, when Ruth Davidson voted for an amendment to include an “opt out” option, it was voted down by the SNP.

So, by not only the SNP’s own actions, but in the words of the QC representing the Scottish Government, there is no “opt out”.

When is somebody going to hold the Scottish Government to account for this unpopular policy (along with the blatant untruths we are being told about it), which was shoe-horned in while Scotland focused on the referendum?

Mark Ward

Dalmellington Road, Crookston, Glasgow

Jobs grant

In what is clearly a cynical and transparent attempt to buy the votes of the young in the community Nicola Sturgeon has announced a “jobs grant” of £100 for unemployed people between the ages of 16 and 24 which it is claimed will help with the cost of going back to work.

What twaddle – it will simply help with the cost of a couple of good nights out courtesy of the tax-payers. As George Bernard Shaw said: “A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend of the support of Paul.”

Donald Lewis

East Lothian

Miami vice

Having seen Andy Murray’s fit of petulance in Miami, hopefully Nicola Sturgeon will be championing someone else to represent Scotland as a sporting hero.

Maurice Brady

Coltbridge Terrace, Edinburgh

Taxing questions

Richard Allison assumes that the increase in the take on the highest rate of income tax for 2013-14 was due to its reduction to 45 per cent.(letters 30 March) . However the Office for Budget Responsibility considers the increase arose because high earners deferred income until that year to take advantage of the lower rate. It estimates the rate cut cost the Treasury £100 million.

S Beck

Craigleith Drive, Edinburgh

Richard Allison (Letters 30 March) is somewhat discombobulated by the possibility of a 50p tax rate.

He asks how will the Council of Economic Advisers find ways “to mitigate the risk” of a fall in tax revenue?

Certainly such an august body of expert opinion could use the Laffer curve to show how. Likely the model it would use for guidance would be Professor Laffer’s well known domed-shaped distribution curve.

Seemingly between these two zero revenue extremes there is a certain-point beyond which revenue starts to fall.

Obviously of course the Laffer curve produces the optimum point round about centre or a 50 per cent rate.

Arguably there is a case for a flat rate tax of about 15-18 per cent with a bias towards an expenditure tax.

Ellis Thorpe

Old Chapel Walk, Inverurie

Backing cycling

I would like to congratulate Ken Thomson on his interesting article, Let’s get the balance right for cycling (30 March).

He is right, is still seen more as exercise than as a means of travel and while that is no bad thing, it does need to change.

I believe that to achieve a critical mass, where cycling to work, to the shops or on the school run is seen as completely normal, we need to encourage more women to take to two wheels.

Better that cycling is seen as a part of daily life, rather than as a challenge – and more women cyclists will change attitudes. That said, the top reason given for stopping more women taking up cycling is their fear around safety.

That is why the campaigns for more cycle lanes, better road design, lower speed limits and mutual respect between motorist and cyclist are so important. The perception that cycling is somehow dangerous has to be eradicated if we are to see a better balance on our roads.

Brenda Mitchell

Cycle Law Scotland and Belles on Bikes, Castle Street, Edinburgh


So, Richard Lucas asserts evolution can’t engineer nice and nasty behaviour.

What then? Did God in his infinite power and wisdom arrange it thus, or perhaps Satan had a hand in it? Curiouser and curiouser.

Andrew Morton

Park Place, Dollar

School charity

In 2014 the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) published a report stating that, since 2007, it has reviewed all 52 of Scotland’s independent schools on its register and none had been removed for failing the charity test.

But, apparently, this is not good enough, for the OSCR went on to warn these schools that they will face a “higher level of vigilance” in future. Now, you report that the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has called for a review of the current system (Independents cash in despite questions over charity status. The Scotsman, 30 March).

In all fairness to our independent schools, it would be interesting to know whether the OSCR has seen fit to issue similar warnings to the other 24,045 charities on it register who have passed its tests - and, if not, why not.

Doug Clark

Muir Wood Grove, Currie