Readers' Letters: Drive towards freedom means we want cars

I would like to add to the common sense sentiments expressed by Christian Orr Ewing (Letters, 13 June).

Henry Ford's efficient, affordable vehicles helped the world catch the motoring bug (Picture: Keystone Features/Getty Images)
Henry Ford's efficient, affordable vehicles helped the world catch the motoring bug (Picture: Keystone Features/Getty Images)

No matter the successive harebrained policies dreamed up by the anti-car brigade, the simple truth is that they cannot uninvent the car. Henry Ford’s creation, affordable to the masses, is widely credited with opening up the United States and then the world.

The uncomfortable truth, for the aforementioned lobby, is that most people like cars. Visit any modern housing development across the UK and you will see households with, often, two SUVs parked outside. The freedom to go where you want, when you want without relying on uncomfortable, unreliable and scarce public transport is as important to most people as is owning their own home.

By all means force the production of cleaner vehicles which may become popular if they become cheaper and more reliable but you cannot uninvent the family car. Legislators should accept that and focus on making our poorly maintained roads safer and reducing the current massive financial burden on motorists.

Kit Fraser, Dunbar, East Lothian

Covid bias

James Scott (Letters, 13 June) is being very selective in his use of data when he says that London has a higher public expenditure per capita than Scotland. The figures he quotes from 2020/21 are skewed by the Government's expenditure on the Covid crisis, London being a focus of response. The House of Commons Library adds a warning to those figures saying that "spending figures for 2020/21 reflect the unusual spending situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and are different in from spending patterns in previous years".

In the previous year (2019/2020) Scots received £731 more per person than Londoners in public expenditure. And London generates more than £30bn in taxes than it receives. It's a common perception that the opposite is the case, however. In 2017 a You Gov poll reported that 70 per cent of Scots thought London got more than it's fair share of public expenditure – not true.

However, I come back to my point about the Barnett formula. How would an independent Scotland led by Nicola Sturgeon, Kate Forbes and Patrick Harvie make up for the shortfall of the Barnett largesse when the Treasury tap was turned off? What taxes would have to rise, what expenditure would have to be cut? Just how much of a midden would the Scottish economy be in?

William Loneskie, Oxton, Lauder, Berwickshire

Damaged Union

As our dysfunctional Prime Minister continues to cling to power, he heralds the break-up of the UK.

In withdrawing from the EU, the largest free trade market in the world, Boris Johnson’s internationally binding Brexit deal has been a disaster for everyone in the UK. The dubious promises of Vote Leave have not been fulfilled; including controlling immigration and the £350 million a week for the NHS.

Although the Westminster establishment is desperate to keep the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland together (with its world standing in mind) the Celtic nations have had enough. Anglo/British nationalism with the infamous Nationality and Borders Bill, scrapping the European Bill of Rights and shipping refugees to Africa, has created democratic independence movements throughout the UK.The ancient sovereign nation of Scotland must leave this damaged Union when its people, in full control of its many assets, can determine its future destiny.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Scottish Highlands

Small majority

Polls suggest Scots are divided on the question of Scottish independence: around 50 per cent for and 50 per cent against. But this whole 51 per cent majority criterion is unacceptable! Any such radical and fundamental change to the constitution of the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (written or not) which has existed for centuries, should require a two-thirds majority, or at least 60 per cent!

J Moir, Aberdeen

Just a mirage

The 2021 Scottish election results were hailed by Nicola Sturgeon as “historic and extraordinary” and she went on to say with her customary verbal dexterity that "There is no democratic justification whatsoever for Boris Johnson or anyone else seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our own future." The 64 SNP seats in Holyrood would appear to vindicate this claim.

However a closer look at the electoral breakdown figures reveals this to be a a democratic mirage. Out of some 4,280,000 registered voters, the 63 per cent turnout left 2,689,000 who made their marks. The constituency and regional votes gave the SNP a 47.7 per cent and 40.3 per cent share of that vote respectively which translates into 1,159,000 who actually voted for the SNP. This represents just 27 per cent of the electorate.

The First Minister's unaccountable attacks of periodic amnesia such as those that plagued her during the Salmond enquiry and the clear cut result of the "once in a lifetime" 2014 Independence Referendum when an exceptional 85 per cent turnout told her that 55 per cent of us wished to remain in the Union is a blatant betrayal of democratic process.

Grant Simpson (Letters, 13 June) further highlights the the well-documented litany of major SNP policy failures and the nightmare prospect of this shambolic administration trying to negotiate a route to the Promised Land of independence and renewed EU membership. All this, and who knows what other disasters, lie in wait, based on a narrow-minded obsession that two-thirds of Scots have rejected.

Neil J Bryce, Kelso, Scottish Borders

Make argument

The Scotsman Leader column of editorial on 13 June was spot-on. Those Scots indicating that they would vote to break up the UK has remained at 45 per cent or just below since pre-2014. Yet the SNP leadership reiterates the same old dreary message aimed at the already converted.

They seem to be trying to appease their blind followers, who really could not care less and would vote for breaking up the country anyway, rather than convince the majority who would not.

Albert Einstein had something to say about people who keep doing the same thing repeatedly, even when the effect of what they do is demonstrably negligible, and it was not complimentary

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

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Trouble ahead

Professor Sir John Kay – sometime economics adviser to Alex Salmond – tells us in a new book that a separate Scotland “would begin independent life carrying… a pro-rata share of UK debt... in the region of £180 billion”. Scotland would also need to borrow, he adds, to cover its budget deficit of between £10bn and £20bn, every year. This raises a few points. First, it scotches the nationalist activists’ claim about Scotland “not having a deficit”. Second, it doesn’t begin to grapple with the difficulties facing a new country with no financial track record trying to borrow on the markets when it would not have no meaningful central bank and no lender of last resort. And third, it doesn’t open the can of worms that reducing the deficit would mean – austerity maximissimus.

But hark! A rosier future is about to be predicted when the SNP this week starts producing the papers laying out its case for leaving the UK. You can be sure that they will paint a very different picture – of resource wealth, a “well-educated population” (no sniggering at the back) and full control of the mythical “levers”.

I trust that journalists will subject these papers to rigorous scrutiny and appraisal, and also invite eminent economists like Professor Kay to do so. They will need to, since we can’t rely on opposition politicians at Holyrood to have the opportunity to engage in serious questioning. FMQs isn’t intended for that.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Hands off

If the SNP wish to spend money on a new referendum, let them crowdfund from their supporters and reassign the allocated £20 million of taxes to helping the less well off. It should be illegal for them to spend money on a matter reserved for the UK government.

Brian Barbour, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Money managers

The newspapers are full of the woes which beset the NHS but very few give any indication of what can be done to improve the situation. There are two points that could be examined – managers in the NHS who are more concerned about keeping their jobs than delivering what they are paid to do, and those who can afford to pay towards their healthcare should be prepared to do so.

Health Boards have many layers of management with too many of them trying to make out they are doing an important job, and recent reports indicate that there are adverts for additional NHS managers commanding six-figure salaries. The NHS should be about health not about how many managers are employed.

The government needs to have a root and branch examination of the NHS administration and management to ensure that efficiency and effectiveness are the priorities to provide the health service that everyone wants.

Making payments towards healthcare is a contentious subject which would be difficult to introduce and probably would not bring in very much money. Those who are young and old together, with those on benefits and the longterm sick, would not contribute, and these are the people who make most use of the service.

The NHS is sacrosanct to most people so that the government is left with the usual backstop to sort out the problems – the taxpayer.

James Macintyre, Linlithgow, West Lothian

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