Look to Borderers for a spirit of harmony - Readers' Letters

Gina Davidson writes that economist Professor John McLaren is urging political parties in Scotland to plan for recovery and heal ailing public services, not least health and education, rather than pursue divisive priorities (Scotsman, 6 March). This is in sharp contract to Michael Russell, the SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute who used social media to berate Scottish journalists living in England as “Scottish Exiles” for daring to question talk of a second Scottish referendum.

The Battle of Flodden Field in Northumberland, which resulted in a decisive defeat for the Scottish forces under King James IV

My wife is Edinburgh-born, my DNA traced back to Fergus the Great of Dalriada in Scotland Yet, along with 800,000 so-called “exiles” she was refused a vote in the 2014 referendum. She took part with me in a ceremony in St Giles’ Cathedral in her birth city on the eve of the vote, her vote ban purely down to the fact that she had dared to follow my posting to Berwick, a mile over the border. We are presently banned from travelling into her homeland through Covid restrictions but fear darker plans for our future free movement.

Scottish ambulances drive in and out of Berwick, as do Police Scotland vehicles, both with their descriptive decals written in Gaelic, curious given that Gaelic was not spoken south of the Highland Fault and only in the West of Scotland. Our local trade vehicle panels boast Edinburgh and Berwick telephone numbers, our electrify and gas are supplied by ScottishPower, our football team plays in Scottish divisions, Scottish laws govern our river mouth and northern flow, The Berwick Guild of Freemen are allied to the Scottish Court of Deans, our Estate Agents advertise homes both sides of the border. Scots come over to work in Berwick, shop for cheaper alcohol, visit doctors and are entertained in our Maltings Arts Theatre and Cinema.

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The human race is intrinsically territorial but we must be generous hearted to ensure social stability. 10.000 years ago the borderlands were under two miles of ice, hunter gatherers only moved up and into the west cost of Scotland a few centuries before Christ, seconds ago on the clock of global existence.

We live near to the site of The Battle of Flodden, where at around 4pm on 9 September 1513 English and Scots engaged in hand-to-hand combat. We pray that Holyrood and Westminster look to Borderers to learn how to encourage our citizens to live together peacefully, people of two nations, living together in harmony along a common and open border, not as enemies as in the days of the tragedy of Flodden.

Canon Alan Hughes MBE TD CF

Chaplain to The High Sheriff of Northumberland, Governors Gardens, Berwick upon Tweed

The going is hard

It has taken well over four years for the UK, with all of the essentials of a sovereign state in place and little in the way of shared assets, to make an agreed exit from the EU.

Scotland does not have the prerequisites of a sovereign state and has a complex mix of shared UK assets . A " Scexit" agreed betwixt Scotland and the other three nations of the UK could thus be a very protracted affair lasting for, say, at least a decade.

The current UK government is, and perhaps its successors will be, opposed to Scottish independence so a "legal" referendum under Section 30 of the Scotland Act could take place in no less than five years from now, ie at least 15 years to achieve an agreed settlement.

Then follows the attempt to rejoin the EU which is currently a major part of the independence argument – that could easily take another ten years for a successful outcome. Serbia, for example, had its application accepted 12 years ago but is not expected to become an EU member for a few years yet – and Serbia is contiguous with the EU whereas Scexit Scotland would be separated from the EU by two English borders.

Dr A McCormick

KIrkland Road, Terregles, Dumfries

Tory hypocrisy

The rank hypocrisy of the Scottish Tories knows no bounds. While at the same time they are frothing at the mouth that the First Minister should resign over allegedly misleading the Scottish Parliament, Prime Minister Johnson was proven to have deliberately misled the Westminster Parliament.

Standing up in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson stated that all Covid-related contracts were “on the record”. This was three days after the High Court ruled the Government had acted unlawfully by failing to publish hundreds of such contracts, which somehow seemed to find their way to those with Tory Party connections.

Two weeks prior to this Matt Hancock, the Health Minister, was found guilty of illegal activity by the High Court, refusing to resign or even apologise when the extent of illegal awarding of PPE contracts was revealed.

Last year Tory Home Secretary Priti Patel was found guilty of breaching the Ministerial Code by being a bully and shouting and swearing at civil servant employees in the Home Office, recently reaching a £340,000 settlement with the former Home Office Permanent Secretary.

Compare and contrast that with north of the border, where the Tory Party have demanded the resignation of the First Minister even before the outcome of the enquiries into the handling of the Alex Salmond case by the Scottish Government have been published.

Not a chirp from them demanding an apology let alone a resignation for the flagrant abuses by their Westminster colleagues. What hypocrites.

Alex Orr

Marchmont Road, Edinburgh

Union pressure

The Press have been watching closely to see if the Sturgeon/Salmond debate will impact on support for the SNP at the May election and of course correspondingly, the potential of a second referendum.

Why is the media not even discussing the impact on the union of the unfolding disaster that is Brexit? Or the impact on the Union of the actions of a Conservative government determined to undermine the devolved government, by funding local authorities directly? Indeed, why is the Press not discussing the impact on the Union of a British government that has now unilaterally extended the grace period for checks on food imports to Northern Ireland? This does not simply reflect badly on the UK, but potentially breaks international law.

Furthermore, why does the media not question the extent to which the actions of UK Conservative cabinet members undermines the perception among Scots of the Westminster government? It has been found now that Matt Hancock, The Westminster Health Secretary, “acted unlawfully” in failing to publish PPE contracts, whilst the Prime Minister himself was found to have acted unlawfully in suspending parliament at the height of the Brexit crisis in 2019.

A narrow consideration of the issues that could impact on Scotland’s position in the UK shows at best a lack of analytical skills and at worst, bias.

Stuart Smith

Forvie Path, Aberdeen

Come together

There can now be no worthwhile argument of any kind against the pro-UK parties in Scotland co-operating electorally to prevent another nationalist administration. Age-old ideological left-right divides should be set aside for the greater good of Scotland. What is certain is that without this unwritten pact, in May the numerically superior opposition parties will once again be cancelling each other out and standing by helplessly while nationalism rules.

It is ironic also that the most fundamentally divided party in Scotland is the SNP. If there was any doubt about that, recent events have proved this to be only too true. If they can continually come together to gain control, why cannot the rest of us, the majority?

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Wilson’s words

At our weekly Zoom meeting in lieu of gathering at a hostelry, one of the participants is a fierce critic of the First Minister. His assessment of her performance in front of the committee was surprisingly positive: “She is a politician and did her job well.”

This contrasts with Brian Wilson who seems to have only one idea – whatever Nicola Sturgeon does is wrong. It was apt that he finished his column (Scotsman, 6 March) by quoting the French philosopher Emile Chartier’s bon mot: “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it’s the only one you have.”

Dr Francis Roberts

Duddingston Square West, Edinburgh

Sting in the tale

After watching the disgraceful scenes outside Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on Saturday, where the Covid-19 virus was treated to an all-it-can-infect buffet of morons unfettered by impotent forces of law and order, someone needs to point out to Nicola Sturgeon that the lockdown is like pop star Sting – completely useless without backing from the Police.

Either she takes action as she's threatened Scottish football often enough, or she's unfit to remain First Minister.

Mark Boyle

Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Slàinte mhath

The excellent news that the US has suspended tariffs on Scotch whisky (Scotsman, 5 March) has been greeted with an unusual silence in certain quarters; I wonder why?

Could it be because this good news is a result of clever work by an English Tory? The Trade Secretary Liz Truss was widely criticised when she unilaterally suspended tariffs on certain US goods. The Americans then reciprocated by suspending whisky and certain other tariffs with a view to further trade negotiations.

Could it also be because this progress in reducing tariffs was only possible because of Brexit? This comes on top of Britain’s remarkable vaccine success, which also was only possible because of Brexit?

Nationalists commentators have to learn balance, and move away from the petty narrow-minded attitude: “Tories bad, Brexit bad, Britain bad.”

Otto Inglis

Ansonhill, Crossgates, Fife

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