One of the effects of the Covid-19 crisis has been to push the price of oil to a record low last seen in 1870. It is, therefore, worth recalling that in 2014 the SNP repeatedly insisted that oil revenues would be the passport to a new, prosperous and independent nation. Had Scotland voted for independence in 2014 our economy and our public services would now be in ruins.
By being part of the UK, Scotland has benefited from a massive Covid-19 support package amounting to £3.4 billion – and still rising.
Only last week the UK government delivered a further £155 million for Scottish local government. This is money that should be urgently handed over to our struggling councils.
These lifelines come in addition to the billions of pounds being given by the UK Government to Scottish workers who would otherwise have lost their jobs or incomes as a result of the Covid-19 economic shakedown.
Other support includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, the deferment of VAT and income tax payments, and a statutory sick pay relief package. This unprecedented intervention was only achievable because it rests on the strong shoulders of the Union.
The reality is that an independent Scotland would have buckled and collapsed had it faced the Covid-19 crisis alone.
With tough times ahead, it would, therefore, be catastrophic economically for Scotland to go it alone by cutting itself adrift from the UK, which is the sixth largest economy in the world.
Even before the current Covid-19 crisis, the 354-page Growth Commission, led by economist and former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson, predicted, in 2018, that independence would cause years of austerity for Scotland.
While, therefore, the SNP remain entitled to make an emotional case for independence, even their most die-hard supporters must now concede that they have lost the economic argument.
The Covid-19 crisis reinforces the point that independence remains an SNP pipe-dream which Scotland simply cannot afford.
Whim Road, Gullane
Robin Whike and Mary Thomas (Letters, 30 April) laud the BBC Panorama programme which claimed to expose UK Government failings over coronovirus.
What the BBC didn’t tell viewers was that all of its interviewees were Labour Party activists. Professor John Ashton – a party member for 53 years. Dr Sonia Adesara – a Labour candidate who shared a stage and videos with Corbyn. Nurse Libby Nolan – a Unison shop steward and Corbyn supporter. Dr Irial Eno – a “migrant solidarity activist”. Dr Asif Munaf – a Corbyn supporter. Dr Abhi Mantgani – a supporter of Momentum.
And how did the BBC get in contact with these people? Step forward union organiser and communist Nigel Flanagan who tweeted: “I was one of those who spoke to Panorama and put them in touch with health workers”.
Yet the BBC failed to mention the political affiliations of its sources. The programme, like much of the BBC’s coverage of the coronovirus crisis, was entirely negative.
Justice Park, Oxton
Lauder, Scottish Borders
Gamble with lives
We are informed that Scotland’s exit from lockdown will differ from that of rUK, with a series of decisions made by the First Minister who seeks to emphasise that Scotland is, or in her opinion ought to be, an entity separate from rUK.
The First Minister is reminded that the probability of each decision made by her being better or worse than corresponding decisions which apply in rUK is 50:50.
Her predecessor is familiar with probability, in the guise of bookmakers’ odds. Her predecessor is a gambler. Her predecessor gambled with money, but the First Minister plans to gamble with human lives.
The First Minister may not wish to be considered a punter; but she surely is and we are her currency.
South Erskine Park
Stan Grodynski (Letters, 29 April) believes that Scotland should have matters decided in Edinburgh, as Westminster is not suitable to make such decisions. One can only ask why that should be the case.
Is there some special quality that Edinburgh holds above any other location that is the cause of this particularity? Do the people of Edinburgh hold some special knowledge denied to those who live in London? Of course not. After all, Westminster, as he wishes to describe our Government, is the place where all our collective decisions are made.
Has he, perhaps, considered that Aberdeenshire folk might believe that their decisions should be made in Aberdeen? Highlanders who regard Edinburgh as just as Sassenach as London see the Scottish capital as also being far away and culturally remote.
Also, one party which has, for the moment, a dominant position does not mean we have a one-party state here!
Andrew HN Gray
Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh
‘Feet’ of idiocy
Surely the idea of public information messages is to be easily understood. If so, then why are we hearing NHS Scotland instructing us on the safe distance in terms which they clearly realise that many people (most, perhaps) do not understand?
When I heard a message on Tuesday on local radio, I was astonished to hear that we should keep “two metres apart”, followed by an explanation that that is about “two shopping trollies” in distance.
Is this for real? If they think that people don’t know what two metres are, clearly it is because they have never learned what it means. In which case, use the measurements that people actually use! Tell us to keep six feet apart as they do in the USA. Just like the Americans, most people still think in feet and inches, as anyone who listens to people talking on the bus, or when they are interviewed in the media – even schoolkids and students – knows .
Morningside Road, Edinburgh
No masking arrogance
What on earth was US Vice-President Mike Pence trying to prove by failing to wear a face mask during a recent visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota?
Was he suggesting that he’s invincible, a superman with the ability to scare the virus away just by his presence? What kind of example does this set to the people of America, some of whom need little encouragement to believe in their God-given right to ignore rules when it so pleases them.
Pence is needlessly and irresponsibly exposing himself to a virus which kills people on a daily basis. It’s not bravery, it’s mind-boggling stupidity. It would be poetic justice were he to contract the virus and to generously pass it on to his boss, who also thinks that he’s above the law, as well as being immortal.
If social distancing is now seen as an unnecessary curtailment of individual freedom by the more gullible American people, and the number of Covid-19 cases show a steep rise in the coming weeks, they should know who to blame – and perhaps a dose of humility should be prescribed by doctors to all those who think they’re invincible.
Broughty Ferry, Dundee
Looking at the empty streets of the Capital this week, it is hard to imagine the hubbub of last year let alone the ring of swords on armour in 1520. Five hundred years ago, on 30 April, the supporters of James Hamilton, Earl of Arran and Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, came to bloody blows on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
The violence was part of a protracted power struggle over who would control the young king James V during his minority. But Arran failed to factor in local politics, and since he had previously supported the Leithers in a commercial dispute, their Edinburgh rivals joined the Douglases when the fighting started. Arran was forced to flee, leaving his brother and dozens of supporters lying dead behind him. This brutal and bloody fight, known locally as “Cleanse the Causeway”, resulted in Angus being able to cling to power for a while yet, although the rivalry was far from over. The Scottish Battlefields Trust plans to mark the 500th anniversary of this important but little-known skirmish by installing a plaque later this year.
Director, Scottish Battlefields Trust High Street, Prestonpans
There was a lot of sense in Murdo Fraser’s piece, ‘Scotland’s Hate Crime and Public Order Bill must not stifle free speech’ (Perspective, 28 April). Of course, we agree with the bill’s supplanting of the blasphemy law, which is anachronistic, and sends a dangerous message of seeming solidarity to countries where blasphemy is punished severely. Mr Fraser lists the “protected characteristics” that are to have this new protection: age, disability, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. What stands out as qualitatively different in this list surely is religion.
The others are not a choice.
Edinburgh Secular Society
Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh
I was surprised and happy to see, in yesterday’s Now & Then column, a photo of my uncle Tom holding up of the FACup that Preston won in 1938.
It brought back happy memories of my visits to Preston where, on more than one occassion, he would show me his FA Cup medal and reminisce about his long football career and the interesting tours he and his teammates went on. Tom Smith played for Kilmarnock FC for many seasons before being transferred to Preston North End two years before captaining them to FA Cup glory.
He is the only professional football player to receive a Trophy from both a King and a Queen. (George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother).
Broomfield Avenue, Cumnock
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