Readers' Letters: A British Senate could usher in a federal UK

If the only legitimate way to achieve Scottish independence is via a referendum which requires the permission of the UK Government then it is not going to happen, as neither of the main Westminster parties will grant it unless it is absolutely clear that the nationalists would not win.
Labour is keen for a Senate to replace the unelected House of Lords (Picture: Toby Melville/AFP via Getty Images)Labour is keen for a Senate to replace the unelected House of Lords (Picture: Toby Melville/AFP via Getty Images)
Labour is keen for a Senate to replace the unelected House of Lords (Picture: Toby Melville/AFP via Getty Images)

Some in the SNP, including the party’s president, now accept that independence is not going to happen “right now”.

For a way out of this cul-de-sac I suggest SNP members and supporters remember that the great surge in the fortunes of the party followed the setting up of the Scottish Parliament, something which was proposed by Labour and supported by the SNP, despite objections from some purists.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

We now have Gordon Brown’s proposal for replacing the ridiculous House of Lords with a senate representing the various regions of the UK. This suggestion has been endorsed by Scottish Labour and UK Labour and I’m surprised the SNP haven’t done so as well.

Their role would be to ensure the new body has the powers necessary to counter the predominance of London and the South East, an endeavour likely to attract support from many other regions.

In time such a body could usher in a federal UK. It would not be independence but it would give the regions the powers needed to make a real difference while avoiding the worries about the currency etc which stymied the 2014 referendum.

S Beck, Edinburgh

Free animals

However enlightened zoos and wildlife parks might be, I don't think applause is deserved or appropriate (Editorial, 22 May), certainly not as these are forms of captivity under any other name, one of which would be slavery.

We underestimate the intelligence and sensitivity of animals to our peril and cause them undeserved suffering.

How would we like to swap places with animals, ultimately fenced in, however spread out the fencing might be? There would be entirely no room for self-congratulation or applause on either side in surely the most unacceptable form of immigration.

If the captive animals could talk, and many do possess sophisticated means of communication, perhaps they would plead: “Can we go home?”

Ian Petrie, Edinburgh

Colour of hate

The Theatre Royal Stratford East does not want white patrons to attend one performance of the play Tambo & Bones so that it may be "free of the white gaze". Let's call this for what it is: racist.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It's clear they don't want whites attending for much the same reason the National Front and British National Party never wanted black attendees at their beanos – because there's nothing that quite spoils everyone letting their inner mindless bigot out than one of those you want to belittle and blame for all your failings bearing witness.

The Theatre Royal should have its public entertainment licence revoked at once until this disgrace is investigated, and its two stars, Rhashan Stone and Daniel Ward, must disown said theatre's stupidity or be expelled from Equity.

As the great Muhammad Ali said, “Hating people because of their colour is wrong. And it doesn't matter which colour does the hating. It's just plain wrong.”

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Choked to oblivion

Recently we have begun seeing the claim that people are becoming disillusioned with democracy. No doubt, if true, there are many reasons for this, ranging from the British love of “analysis paralysis”, to repeated government thwarting of clear and widely held desires of the electorate, to shell shock following Covid-19, to good old apathy. Examples which come readily to mind are assisted dying (a clear majority in favour), the NHS (the current model is clearly self-imploding), the medieval school examinations system (AI will further hamstring it) cross-channel migrants and, finally, the BBC (its dogged resistance to change is manifest in such trivial areas as the Radio 4 Thought For The Day slot).

Frustration shows itself, for example, in the over-the-top reaction to the Prime Minister’s perfectly reasonable suggestion that all children should continue learning mathematics up to the age of 18. If we as individuals and our government as a whole cannot or will not solve these problems then our nation is indeed in for a very rough ride down the slope into oblivion.

Doug Clark, Currie, Edinburgh

What dignity?

The debate on legalising assisted death for the terminally ill has been advanced by ethical experts from Scottish universities backing MSP Liam McArthur's Private Member's Bill. It's also relevant that church and mosque leaders in Scotland should warn that the Bill “inevitably undermines the dignity of the human person”.

However, is there any dignity in a terminally ill person, riddled with pain, having to plead with relatives and doctors for any treatment which would relieve their suffering, and the anguish of family and friends watching a loved one fade away in such circumstances?

Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Stirlingshire

Colonised (sort of)

Jill Stephenson (Letters, 20 May) ignores the hallmarks of British colonial rule and similarities with Scotland’s position under Westminster rule today. British rule was marked by discrimination, divide and rule tactics, dirty tricks, economic exploitation and political oppression/control.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In South Africa the British sided with the white settler population, denying the African population the vote. They used cheap labour in the mines and benefited economically while features of discrimination, built on later in apartheid South Africa, began existing.

In Brexit Britain the Westminster government, supported by the Labour party, up the xenophobia as well as hatred of vulnerable people who flee persecution, ignoring domestic and international law. They use cruelty, as in the austerity programme and attacking of public services the majority need, along with corruption and wasting of public money.

But Scotland’s voice in the Brexit referendum was ignored and it now faces the economic disaster that it never voted for. When Scotland had an independence referendum, every dirty trick in the book was used, for example falsely saying that if Scotland voted No it would remain in the EU. Scotland can be overruled continually at Westminster because of its size and number of MPs, which Westminster is reducing. This is called lack of representation

Scotland is rich in resources, especially energy resources. It has an abundance of renewable power potential with its prime geographical location. But the Scots do not benefit. They live under the thumb of Westminster, and rule by a no-holds-barred government. Meanwhile the energy bills here go up and up. This is called exploitation.

An independent government in Scotland with a constitution would be democratic, able to be close to the EU and make decisions to benefit its population, with its own resources.

Pol Yates, Edinburgh

Under pressure

The controversial experiment with jury-less trials has come about because pressure groups assert that jurors fail to understand factual evidence or simply return perverse verdicts and thus cannot be trusted to deliver a just outcome.

Such a narrow and arguably condescending view has a restricted context but it has nonetheless motivated over-receptive politicians to tinker with community involvement in the justice system, the stated objective being an increased conviction rate for certain offences.

Pressure groups play an essential role in raising the profile of issues and helping to shape society’s response to them. However, politicians must take great care to avoid creating anti-democratic trends under their influence. Removing decision-making on the facts from citizens and placing it within the ambit of legal professionals can be seen in that light.

R A Wallace, Kincardine, Fife

Write to The Scotsman

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

We welcome your thoughts – NO letters submitted elsewhere, please. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number – we won't print full details. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid 'Letters to the Editor/Readers’ Letters' or similar in your subject line – be specific. If referring to an article, include date, page number and heading.


Related topics:



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.