Readers' Letters: Boris must base union defence in Scotland

So Boris Johnston is strengthening his "Union Unit"?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to stop separation of UK partnersPrime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to stop separation of UK partners
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to stop separation of UK partners

A special government unit, based in Whitehall, with the sole task of defending the integrity of the United Kingdom. This is doomed to fail as, once again, our London-centric masters fail to fully understand the problem that they face North of the border. Such a unit will only fuel the Nationalists’ grudge against London interfering in Scottish affairs and do nothing to help the case for the Union. The unit must be based in Edinburgh, with Scottish members, from all Unionist parties in both Holyrood and Westminster.

Only such a unit with members who understand Scottish politics and, in particular, the SNP has any chance of success.

Donald Carmichael, Orchard Court, East Linton

Honour Africanus

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As readers will know, Edinburgh University's David Hume Tower is to be renamed following the exposure of Hume's unsavoury views on race. The university is to carry out a consultation process under the guidance of Sir Geoff Palmer, the university's only black professor, to canvass opinion on a suitable new name.

While I was an undergraduate at the university I noticed a blue plaque (since removed) on the wall of the Adam Ferguson Building, commemorating Africanus Horton, the first African student at Edinburgh University.

On investigating, I found that Horton had come from Sierra Leone to study medicine, graduating in 1859. He went on to become a surgeon, a writer and a political thinker widely credited with being the father of African nationalism, 100 years before the independence movements emerged.

For all these reasons Horton seems to me to be the obvious choice. To choose him would greatly enhance Edinburgh University's international profile, putting the university on the right side of history, and helping to expunge the stain of our colonial past, just as Glasgow University did in acknowledging its links to the slave trade.

Douglas Currie, Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh

Tram tragedy

It is with some amazement and incredulity that in a week when all Edinburgh tram services have been cancelled, I read of proposals for a massive tram extension. Based on the embarrassing experience to date and Edinburgh Council’s total inability to successfully manage any of the tram works thus far one can only shudder at the potential cost and duration of the consequent chaos. What is the current status of the originally proposed scheme? I have lost track but it must be ten years late, three times over budget and only delivering approximately 75 per cent of what was proposed. It seems clear that this foolish folly is being pursued under a directive from the propped-up SNP government under the guise of a Rapid Mass Transport dream. Well, the trams might be capable of mass transportation, if and when they are eventually running and people wish to return to being transported in such a way, but rapid they most definitely are not.

As for extending the tram network to West Lothian; really? The more sensible answer to me is to fix the pothole ridden roads properly and fast track the delivery of divertible hydrogen buses and their supporting infrastructure in a phased and managed way to meet the Green imperative. They are available now and don’t require rails, will be carbon beneficial immediately and more than likely won’t be stopped by a couple of days of snow. Not only that, they can also be used anywhere within the scheduled service areas. Flexibility is what is needed in an expanding city with an uncertain future.

Time for a rethink that doesn’t involve digging up the city, incurring a huge carbon deficit in the process and disrupting everyone’s lives and bankrupting all of those businesses in the proximity of the proposed works. Why don’t they consult with Aberdeen where they are now operating the first double decker hydrogen powered busses in the world, in the European oil capital. What is being proposed will make Edinburgh the place to avoid for the next 15 years. I despair.

Andrew Macnie, Craighall Terrace, Edinburgh

Tunnel vision

The proposals for a Scotland-Northern Ireland tunnel has illuminated those who wish to see a prosperous island of Ireland – whatever it's political set-up – as opposed to those who want to see it trapped in a 1690-1916 timewarp (your report, February 15). Even Sammy Wilson of the DUP – the only NI politician left you'd buy a used car from – has said the money would be better invested in the NI economy. With respect, Britain and the EU have flung enough money at NI's political classes lately to little tangible benefit for the residents, so it's time this song was sung our way.The common objection is the Beaufort's Dyke munitions dump. Yet the English Channel is the world's biggest munitions dump c/o the RAF, USAF and Luftwaffe coming back from raids in two world wars. Another is the different train gauges, but NI's pitiful train system is long overdue for an overhaul, and with Eire planning revamping its own, now is the opportune moment for cross border crossrail cooperation to our mutual benefit.Post-Covid, there will be no time for the "Nawbags" and their ceaseless cant of "can't". Bold infrastructive improvements are the way forward if we are to revive our nations economically and ecologically for a sound future.

Mark Boyle, Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Red list is right

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As a former – now retired – international traveller I write in support of your leader today urging the Edinburgh and London governments to work together on travel restrictions. Great though my respect is for Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson I can’t help feeling Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is correct when he describes his “red list countries” approach as proportionate. The cost and inconvenience of trying to cope with foreign travel to Scotland via England should be abandoned.

David Steel, Selkirk

Jag happy

My husband and I were vaccinated against Covid-19 at the Caird Hall, Dundee, on February 5. It was easy to book our appointments via our GP, who made the phone call on our behalf. We hadn’t expected this courtesy, and were extremely grateful. We were very impressed by the efficiency of the staff at the hall, who had a great system set up to ensure a smooth flow of people through the vaccination process. We were asked to exchange our own masks for ones provided by the organisers. This seemed eminently sensible, to rule out any potential contamination acquired prior to attending.

I didn’t feel any pain or discomfort during the vaccination – in fact, all I felt was slight pressure on my arm, and was surprised when the administrator told me it was over.

We need to curtail our lethal impact on our planet as a matter of urgency if we want to ensure a sustainable future for all life on earth – not just for humans. We have definitely lost the moral high ground on this subject.

Carolyn Taylor, Wellbank, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Blown it

Alastair Collin (Law & Legal Affairs, February 15) takes the lawyer’s view of being concerned for his clients’ finances, should they become involved with the decommissioning, restoration and aftercare of wind farm developments which have been sited on their land by a developer. To members of the public, however, there are more important things to be worried about.

Campaign group, Scotland Against Spin surveyed every planning authority area in Scotland and discovered that although many had insisted on financial guarantees such as Bonds being put in place for the decommissioning of large wind farms, very few had insisted on one for small wind farms or single turbine developments. In the case of East Renfrewshire Council, there were NO financial guarantees for any turbines other than their share of Whitelee wind farm. This means in years to come, in the event small operators cannot or will not pay for decommissioning, the taxpayer has to foot the bill. This is an environmental disaster for East Renfrewshire as it has by far the greatest density of wind turbines per square kilometre in Scotland.

Another disaster awaits us in Shetland where the Council has allowed construction of the vast Viking Wind farm to commence without a decommissioning bond having been agreed, leaving them without any negotiating leverage.

Rusting turbines littering our landscape, putting extra pressure on already struggling local authority finances, awaits us in the not too distant future.

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Graham Lang, Scotland Against Spin, Westermost, Ceres, Cupar


How amazing that it is now 50 years since D (for Decimal) Day. I remember it well. The “new penny” is worth 2.4 old pennies. Those of us who had learned how to use “real” money couldn’t see what the problem was with it. After all, the pound, with 20 shillings, each composed of 12 pennies, so we were adept at rapid mental arithmetic. .

When we went to the shop, we would routinely work out how much three tins of baked beans at 1/4d (one and fourpence) was plus a bottle of 1001, which cleaned “a big, big carpet for less than half a crown” (confused yet?), a loaf at 9d (around 3.5p) and a pint (no litres, thank you) of milk was about a bob (a shilling, or 5p) and a tanner (6d) for half a pint. A packet of fags (well, it was 1971) was around 2/3d (two and thruppence, or about 11p), but life expectancy was much lower, of course and wages were tiny in present-day terms.

You could live the life of Riley for a quid a day, including the real treat of a scampi supper would be about five bob (5/-) which is five shillings, or 25p in modern money.

For all the upset decimalisation caused, it is hard to know quite what was gained by it.

Andrew HN Gray, Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh

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