Readers' Letters: Do Scots believe in democracy?

It seems likely that the majority of Scottish people do not believe in democracy. We have been brought up in the tradition of the clan system, where one observed total allegiance to the chief. Questioning such authority is not part of our psyche.

Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon were social distancing long before Covid
Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon were social distancing long before Covid

Recently, we have had two democratic votes in referendums – neither accepted by the majority of Scots. Is this because they have been instructed by the current leadership, whom they dare not contradict? How any thinking person can say that Nicola Sturgeon performs better on the BBC than Boris Johnson is astonishing. Boris is polite and pleasant – the FM is blunt, and blustering. In the English broadcast, questioners are allowed follow-up questions. Here these are not allowed following the FM's long-winded non-answer. Mr Johnson is courteous because he recognises that the UK is a democracy and that he relies on the people for his power. Ms Sturgeon is "the chief” who does not have to be concerned with views of a submissive audience.

People who write to The Scotsman to criticise the Scottish Government are quickly rebutted the next day with accusations of disloyalty. No serious analysis of serious facts or sensible observations are made in such rebuttals. A differing view is not respected. Even in the football world, an open mind is not evident. The FA Cup in England reports on who the underdog teams are drawn against; we concentrate on the two giant teams' involvement.

Increasingly we find democracy being dismantled by our present government (not elected by a majority), who disregard our Parliament, who continually diminish local powers, who centralise the Police force, who set up ever more quangos to support or delay their actions. This is not democracy​!

Maybe we should become an independent nation – let the English have their democracy, while we return to clan rule! But what about the minority of we poor souls who want to be democratic?

John MacKay, Glen View, Cumbernauld

In it together

I’m sure many readers will share my disappointment at the First Minister’s negative attitude towards the visit of the Prime Minister to Scotland.This coming hot on the heels of the morale-boosting visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge surely demonstrates that we are,indeed all in this together, very reassuring at this time of difficulty.

David Edgar, Main Street, Symington, Biggar

Long road to EU

There has been a lot of talk recently along the lines of an independent Scotland re-joining the EU. Nicola Sturgeon’s remarks suggest if Scotland votes for independence, we could be back in the EU shortly after. Joining the EU is not so easy. Seven other countries are waiting to join. Turkey started talks in 1987, got conditional agreement to negotiate in 1999, and started negotiations in 2005. They are still not members. Iceland applied in 2009; by 2015 they had met only eight of the 35 conditions needed for membership. They too are still waiting. Croatia was relatively lucky; they applied in 2003, and got membership in 2013, after a mere ten years. Ms Sturgeon needs to start saying very loudly that a possible Scottish EU membership could take over ten years. Anything else, she is leaving herself open to accusations of a Trumpish “lying to the Scottish people”.

Anne Wimberley, Belmont Road, Edinburgh

UK Budget hope

How does one present a financial plan when you don’t yet know what your income is? You are dependent on decisions by others that will have a direct impact on your spending ability to prioritise. Those questions are relevant as that is exactly the position Scotland is in, so, they must be asked and reflected upon, as the country digests the Budget presented by Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP.

Many of the announcements were dependent upon the block grant and Barnett consequences that come from Westminster, whose scheduled autumn 2020 Budget was postponed until March 3 due to Covid. But outwith the revised dates, there are provisions the UK Chancellor could and should be announcing with immediate effect, considering we are effectively in a lockdown in most of the UK. What about protecting jobs with yet another necessary extension to the furlough scheme, what about an extension to non-domestic rates relief; businesses, along with governments, need notice as soon as possible. We should have no repeat of the last extension to “furlough” that saw many job losses that could have been saved with prior notice.

As we digest the Scottish Budget, which, thankfully, recognised the desperate plight many families are experiencing with no change to the progressive tax rates in Scotland, we must demand borrowing powers devolved to Scotland from the UK Chancellor on March 3 if we are going to truly make progress in recovering from Covid.

Catriona C Clark, Hawthorn Drive, Banknock, Falkirk

Act now

Nicola Sturgeon is on record as saying, if she had her time again on the pandemic, she would have acted quicker, and with tougher actions, so avoiding the death rates we have seen. The same logic applies to the climate emergency.

We have seen the new USA administration act swiftly to stop “dirty” projects like the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and to halt further drilling on government lands. We need similar action and leadership in Scotland today. Further road dualling projects should be halted, and any money currently subsidising air travel or airports repurposed.

Iain MacDonald, Grove Road, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Fear mongering

Yesterday we learned that GP surgeries working hard to administer the vaccination programme are having to waste precious time fielding calls from vulnerable people made anxious about when they will receive their Covid vaccination by irresponsible comments made by opposition politicians who seem to believe that making political capital out of a crisis trumps the greater good.

The most egregious are the Conservatives, who have been publishing the false claim that the government is sitting on a stockpile of 500,000 doses. There was a time when this kind of fake news would have been anathema to Tory supporters and politicians, but sadly that is no more. And the media can't absolve themselves of responsibility with their collusion and relentless daily drip feed of exaggerated negative stories. Sometimes it's hard to believe during this political and media circus, that lives are at stake.

Gill Turner, Derby Street, Edinburgh

Blame Boris

PM Johnson has been in Scotland talking-up the “fantastic” vaccination programme. We should note that it, like other measures, is a means to impact on infection rates, illness, hospital admissions and deaths, not an end in itself.Nor should we forget that, early last year, Johnson was in the denier-camp. He visited hospitals, shaking hands with patients. He caught Covid. He then listened to tabloid campaigns – to “save our hols”, to “save our Christmas” – rather than the science. The evidence for this irresponsibility is in such fundamental measures as infection rates and deaths.

The mainstream media has recently been obsessed with the vaccination programme, making almost daily comparisons between England and Scotland. Might it be more balanced to always report this in the context of nationally comparable statistics on infection rates and deaths? The information is easy to find. Hopefully, the fact that it puts Scotland in a better light is not an explanation for this absence.

Robert Farquharson, Lee Crescent, Edinburgh

I’m happy, thanks

Gavin Matthews wrongly assumes his faith in a supernatural being is a necessary belief framework for everyone else’s epistemology (Friends of the Scotsman, January 28.). Yes, atheists hold that things just “are” but his characterising of life without his god as despairing and empty is simply unrecognisable to the non-religious majority who pitch their expectations around reason and the decency of other people. It is this sense of exceptionalism and entitlement that underpins persistent religious demands to be exempt from life-saving lockdown regulations.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh

Projected future

Edinburgh Filmhouse certainly needs developing as the current building, whilst much loved, has become a victim of its own success and will not cope with the future demand after Covid. However I have great doubts about the proposal for Festival Square, a building that, to me, neither expresses its purpose nor relates to its surroundings.With the demise of large buildings in Princes Street, might there not be an opportunity to redevelop, say, Debenhams, into a mixed-use site including Filmhouse, sharing restaurants, retail and display spaces whilst regenerating a key site in the city.

David Gerrard, Spylaw Park, Edinburgh

Transparently so

Nicola Sturgeon in her default anti-Westminster/Boris Johnson mode says to her officials: “...regardless of what they [Westminster] say, I think we will just go back to publishing the actual supply [of vaccine] figures from next week, so that we all have transparency around that (your report, January 29). If indeed she believes in transparency of her government’s proceedings, she should apply transparency, rather than obfuscation, of the facts to the inquiry into the Salmond shenanigans, particularly as she pleads innocence, nothing to hide, or forgetfulness of what happened.

David Hollingdale, Easter Park Drive, Edinburgh

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