You would have thought that Conservative MPs would have more than most to gain from this, but no. We already see some of them picking around the edge of things, trying to find fault and dragging us back into the mire. Do they not realise that there is a time to speak your mind, and a time to bite your lip and say nothing, even if you do have misgivings? Speaking out of turn creates doubts in the minds of others, affects confidence and creates the feeling that we will never get out of this.
Prime Minister Sunak has struck the right tone from the outset, and people seem to be reacting positively. It will be astonishing if he is undermined by his own side. To be clear, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if a lot of these people disappeared without trace, but their careless talk affects us as well, and we must all give the PM a chance.
Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perthshire
No time for poll
The country is in the middle of a severe economic crisis. The financial markets are looking for a period of stability and the public need urgent action. In spite of this, opposition parties and some voters and political commentators are calling for a general election.
Do they not realise that this would result in the whole of government and parliament shutting down for at least a month while the election took place. There would be no legislation passed or any government plans being implemented. The Conservative party were roundly and justifiably criticised for closing down for weeks while a new leader was elected and yet some want this to happen again. I can only put this down to a combination of naivety on the public’s part, a continued adrenaline rush for political commentators and a lust for power greater than the needs of the country by opposition parties.
Paul Lewis, Edinburgh
I listened with dismay to a news item this morning on Radio Orkney stating that the Scottish Government were to fund a review of the transport of stock from the Northern Isles to Aberdeen.
They planned to do so about 18 months ago but the plan was dropped, probably due to Covid. When Northlink took over from P&O in 2002 there was extensive work done to find the best way to transport stock and cassettes were deemed to be the best solution. These are low-level Artic units which have water and feed in each trailer. They have been given the onceover by various animal welfare bodies and found to pass the test. Another publicly funded study would likely come to a similar conclusion at a probable cost of several hundred thousand pounds of taxpayer funds.
All this will do is further the anxiety of Northern Isles farmers who could not exist if they cannot get their stock to market. This is on top of a long-running concern over future agricultural payments which shows no sign of being resolved. I expect the Greens are at the bottom of all this. They are anti-farming and are determined to get their agenda adopted by the Scottish Government even if they have no elected MSPs.
Nicola Sturgeon needs to knock this unnecessary study on the head before any more money is wasted. It would be better spent on things of benefit to the poorer element of the general population in these times of a cost of living crisis.
Jack Watt, St Ola, Orkney
Old pals’ act
A McCormick mentions the possibility of a hard border between Scotland and England (Letters, 26 October). In the event of Scotland regaining its independence and rejoining the EU, there would not be hard borders for residents of Scotland and England – and the rest of the UK and Ireland – because of the Common Travel Area (CTA). And the borders between residents of Scotland and 27 other EU countries would come down. This is especially important for the futures of our young people.
The UK and Ireland, an EU member, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 8 May 2019 reaffirming the CTA arrangements and the “enduring nature of the relationship between our two countries and the unique ties between our citizens”. I speculate that the government of the remainder of the UK would not disadvantage its own citizens by trying to exclude Scotland from the CTA.
In relation to trade, an independent Scotland would control its border with the UK on the basis of EU law and negotiations with the government of the remainder of the UK. There would be some checks on goods between Scotland and the rest of the UK. My personal view is that this disbenefit would be outweighed by the benefit of Scotland having barrier-free trade with 27 other EU countries.
It is the UK government which has set up barriers for Scotland to import and export goods, and trade in services and investment, with the EU. The Summary of the UK and EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, published on 30 April 2021, states that the basis of the UK’s relationships to EU neighbours has changed to “free trade and friendly cooperation”. An independent Scotland in the EU should also be treated by the government of the remainder of the UK with “friendly cooperation”.
E Campbell, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire
Anyone wondering why Scotland and the UK has a skills shortage, especially in terms of “hard subject” graduates, needs only to look at the graduate list from Napier University, a technical college in my day.
Around 100 degrees, more than 600 graduates, the vast majority of whom seem to be foreign and the local kids seem to prefer criminology, psychology and sports management. I looked to see what job vacancies there are in psychology in Scotland. Around 40, almost all in the public sector. There are five criminology vacancies, all lectureships.
Did these kids or their parents think of the career prospects before saddling themselves with a student loan?
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
As a user of the footpaths around Loch Leven along with families, dog walkers and cyclists, I was concerned to learn that the environmental protection watchdog, SEPA, has reportedly been allowing untreated sewage to be discharged into the loch (your report, 26 October). It seems that the old sewage network is unable to cope with the increased rainfall which has been predicted for many years as a consequence of climate change.
It's disquieting that a body which we trust to look after our precious environment is failing to do just that in a prestigious and protected nature reserve upon which obviously a lot of public money has been spent to improve facilities and public access. The main culprit must be the Scottish Government for failing to take account of the predicted results of climate change and improve our infrastructure to cope with the changes.
Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Stirlingshire
Dr Anthony Latham and his colleagues from the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics should check the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill again (your report, 26 October).The bill is simply about the administration of the process by which a trans man or woman updates their birth certificate and brings all their documentation into line, showing their transitioned gender. As has been the case since 2004, only those who are fully living in their transitioned gender will qualify, and they will need a statutory declaration that they intend to do so for the rest of their life. A deliberately false declaration will continue to be a criminal offence.The bill makes no change at all to the pathways by which people, including young people, receive medical support for concerns about their gender. Young people do not seek medical support because they want a gender recognition certificate. They do so to get help with their gender identity. The problem with that is that currently there can be a waiting time of years for a gender identity clinic appointment. If Dr Latham and his co-authors are genuinely concerned about young people's access to such care they would be campaigning for better resourced gender identity services, not to stop people who are already living in the other gender from updating their documentation to reflect that.
Tim Hopkins, Director, Equality Network, Edinburgh
The cry has been raised again for some kind of warm refuge in which to feed the most vulnerable in Glasgow, now suffering from the daily worsening weather.
At present, the soup kitchen run by volunteers is feeding the poor in the open street and under the Central Station bridge. The charity tending them have apparently been offered only what they say is totally unfit for the purpose premises. This is, in all truth, disgraceful in 2022. This is a matter entirely in Scottish hands, at local and Holyrood levels; Westminster, the usual scapegoat, has no say or input. Our drug deaths remain the highest in Europe by some distance so an extra effort is clearly required.
May I suggest for a start that the pretend embassies and jaunts overseas so beloved by the SNP be abandoned and all the cash saved transferred to help this most urgent of all causes? That would be a start. Then perhaps they could prevent the seeming plunge of this country into the depths of the Third World.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh
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