I contacted my new MSP to ask why Scotland is lagging behind England and the EU and when we would catch up. He told me merely that "the Scottish Government are looking at a digital Covid pass but as yet there has not been a date set for its roll-out" and that "when it is to be rolled out it will be broadly covered in the media" Hopeless!
I have family resident in Belgium whom I haven't seen for many months and I want to visit them as soon as possible. The SNP have made great play of their handling of the pandemic but they are failing badly in this case. Once again, they're probably focusing much more on their separatist fantasies than on things that really matter to people.
Bill Cooper, Highfield Circle, Kinross
When it comes to discussing and settling the issue of Scottish independence, it is very difficult to see any light at the end of the tunnel. This is, in part at least, the result of the blinkered obstinacy demonstrated by those on the opposing sides of the argument.
On the one hand we have some nationalists who are so one-eyed that they are incapable of seeing that there are other things that matter to ordinary people. On the other hand we have unionists who seem to believe that the whole issue of independence can be settled by just saying “no”. This approach may appear to work in the short term, but it will increase bitterness and eventually result in being a recruiting sergeant for Indyref2.
In the end the two sides have to talk, but even starting a dialogue appears to be impossible given the complete absence of trust on either side. Yet, talking is the only way forward and there needs to be a sense of compromise, a realisation that you don't always get everything that you want. In the real world outside the political bubble progress is often only possible through compromise and one can only hope that both nationalists and unionists come to acknowledge and accept that reality. The only alternative is more years of bitter, unedifying wrangling.
David Hamill, Preston Road, East Linton
The prospect of a PR slanging match over a second referendum between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the coming years will do little to speed up the Covid recovery, far less a UK economic turnaround. They might keep Sir John Curtice busy with his opinion polls. When one voter in three didn’t bother to turn out at the recent Holyrood elections the results show a divided uncertain Scotland. If Johnson had sense he would approve a second Referendum on an independent Scotland soon and one reliant on compulsory voting or at least an 80 per cent voter turnout with two-thirds majority of electors opting yes or no. After all, electors would be making a choice affecting generations for years to come, not a mere five-year Scottish Parliament. It’s high time Scotland got on with building a better future: jobs for young people, higher living standards for families and improved health services for an ageing population.
Meantime, Sturgeon could be clearer over whether a separate Scotland would see a hard border with the rest of the UK and if Scotland simply walks into EU membership at any price. Given all the costs and upheavals post-Brexit vote, would a Yes vote for separation produce any more competent negotiations between Edinburgh and London than the incompetent London/Brussels ones even after five years?
Jim Craigen, Downie Grove, Edinburgh
Gordon Brown should know that common sense and rational thinking are all very well but they have no place in the Scottish independence referendum. The way to ensure Scotland remains within the UK is for the English to run a noisy "Get on yer bikes!" campaign, with placards demanding: "Referendum Now!", "Close the Border!", “Bin the Bartlett”, and so on and so forth. This would result in a rapid turn-round in the separatist heartlands north of the Border, with protesters demanding that "Scotland must stay!”. Nicola Sturgeon would appear daily on BBC Scotland’s “SNP slot” claiming that the inalienable rights of Holyrood were being compromised. In fact she could argue that it was just another cunning Westminster plan to ruin Scotland.
(Rev Dr) John Cameron, Howard Place, St Andrews
Gordon Ballantyne (Letters, 11 May) put a perfectly reasonable case for the fact that it is unsustainable for a referendum on a major constitutional matter to be decided on the basis of a winning margin of 50 per cent + 1. Indeed, this is exactly why most organisations (including the SNP) have a threshold of two thirds or even more written into their constitutions. But Marianna Clyde (Letters, 12 May), rather than address the merits or otherwise of this claim, simply berates it as a “knee-jerk colonial mentality of unionists to suppress democracy in Scotland”. Not content with that rather silly outburst, Ms Clyde then suggests she knows Mr Ballantyne’s view of Scotland is that it “should know its place in the pecking order of the UK and just do whatever it is told by an elitist Tory English government” – what a bile-ridden statement that is.
Notwithstanding the fact a previous UK government foolishly permitted two referenda to be decided on such a dangerous basis, it is generally acknowledged that due to the transient nature of opinions, a substantial majority should be required to precipitate major change, be that in a club, political party, or Nation State.
Alan Thomson, Kilcamb Paddock, Strontian
“Sour grapes” best describes John Birkett and Archie Burleigh’s claims that the SNP didn’t really win a mandate in last week’s Scottish election (Letters, 12 May) as, despite Unionist tactical voting, the SNP won 62 constituencies, Tories five, Lib Dems four and Labour two with the biggest ever number of votes.
Murdo Fraser (Perspective, 12 May) claims Tory “success” when in fact it was the Belgian mathematician Victor D'Hondt who secured 26 Tory MSPs and Murdo Fraser his permanent seat at Holyrood despite having never won an election in his life. This system also allowed Douglas Ross to become a part-time MSP as the SNP won the Moray constituency with 20,000 votes, which explains why Douglas Ross was scared to face the electorate in his home patch. The Lib Dems lost 44 deposits and the biggest swing last Thursday was in Shetland, where there was a massive 19 percentage point move to the SNP candidate. As for it all being down to Nicola Sturgeon’s TV appearances, TV also gave regular exposure to all the opposition leaders, something that doesn’t apply in London.
Also, the Electoral Commission needs to urgently investigate the allegations made by Open Democracy.net that in the days before Thursday’s Scottish Parliament election, numerous third-party campaigns with no clear details of their funding spent tens of thousands of pounds on digital ads pushing tactical voting.
And a far-right grouping posing as “Independent Green Voice” could well have cost Scottish Greens an extra seat in Glasgow which went to the Tories.
Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh
Reading the letters from John Birkett and Archie Burleigh (Letters 12 May) it's impossible not to feel some sympathy as they desperately clutch at statistically impossible extrapolations to deny the reality of a crushing SNP victory. Once again the spectre of the unknown voter who didn't vote is raised to diminish the result of those who did. Amazingly, it's taken as read that these non-appearing voters, who didn't turn out to vote for the Unionist parties, would all magically materialise to win a second referendum for the UnionLots of statistics have been bandied about to support the case for the Union, ignoring small matters like the fact that in a system designed to make achieving a majority very difficult, in the constituency section, which follows the much-defended first-past-the-post Westminster model, the parties supporting the Union could only muster 11 seats to the SNP's 62. Taken with the regional list, the Unionist parties added 46 seats, taking them to 57 in total, seven seats fewer than the SNP hold on their own. Therefore, the irony is that the Unionist parties will have to rely on the votes of all eight Greens, an independence supporting party and a party they like to insult as being SNP pawns, to defeat the government in a vote. It's to be hoped that the reality of the list vote will put an end to references we read about the “largely unelected Greens”, but the bottom line is really quite simple. If the multiple statistics quoted favour the Union in another referendum, why are so many of its supporters so desperate to avoid one?
Gill Turner, Derby Street, Edinburgh
Flight of farce
I read that Air India flights to Heathrow from Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi, and the corresponding outbound flights, are to be resumed. Given the overwhelming levels of Covid-19 cases in India and the fact that two weeks ago it was on the UK Government's Red List this decision is rank stupidity of the highest order. It demonstrates a cavalier attitude towards the health and wellbeing of UK citizens, much like that at the very onset of the pandemic, and is a slap in the face to those who followed the rules and advice assiduously. Perhaps someone from the ivory tower of Westminster could tell us why, and by wh om, this decision was taken.
David Veitch, Bangholm Bower Avenue, Edinburgh
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