Readers' Letters: Government should embrace Scotland's inventors

I am a member of an inventors’ and innovators’ group which includes two professors.

Would the Scottish Government have welcomed a 'rustless diving suit' in 1925? Inventors are pleading to the Scottish Government for a Round Table at which they could present their ideas in a safe environment to influential stakeholders who could quickly assess new concepts. (Picture: E. Bacon/Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Among our members we have solutions for power generation, energy storage, flood defence technology, coastal and building storm defence and sequestration of carbon to produce natural fertiliser in the form of “biochar”. Some are ready to go now.

The problem is that not one of our group is eligible for any physical or financial government assistance. We are effectively a “lost asset”. I have pleaded for several years to the Scottish Government for a Round Table at which inventors could at least present their ideas in a safe environment to influential stakeholders who could quickly assess new concepts and fasttrack them to market for the benefit of everyone. There is a job dividend and positive spinoffs financially and socially for the citizens of the country.

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COP26 will be held in Scotland in a couple of months. I was promised 13 months ago by a representative of Nicola Sturgeon that our group would be able to contribute. We were told recently that is not possible now! This is bewildering and demonstrates a lack of insight and leadership. Ironically, people with no solutions will be on the COP26 platform while our group, with existing solutions, will not be represented at all. This is a scandal.

Roderick McCafferty, Kilwinning, North Ayrshire

No cover-up

I doubt if Sajid Javid will ever be taken seriously as Health Secretary after his unforgettable order to the Great Unwashed to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces, whilst addressing his fellow MPs, sitting side by side in a room, with no masks in sight.

Perhaps he could claim to have been using irony, knowing that his audience were an educated bunch, or perhaps he thinks that the rules don’t apply to those who make the rules. Either way, it was confirmation that some politicians are totally out of touch with the people they represent.

Carolyn Taylor, Dundee

Safety first

There is a flaw in Martyn McLaughlin's otherwise balanced thoughts on the right to protest at the Scottish Parliament building (Perspective, 15 September). The right to peaceful protest, as with the right to freedom of speech and the press, can never be absolute. Where there is a credible threat to the operation of a parliament – where individuals openly declare their intention to close it down – then surely there should be some restraint. The events at Capitol Hill in Washington in January of this year should serve to remind us there are those whose respect for democratic institutions is sparse. When the prospect of violence is very real, surely any corporate body has a duty to itself and the public to urge caution.

Fourteen years ago I was on a guided tour of the Holyrood building. The security arrangements were not exceptionally tight but realistic given the political climate. The next day members of the organisation Fathers for Justice were able to scale the outside of the building to try to gain publicity for their cause. It should have given everyone then pause for thought as to how easy it might be for more sinister forces to penetrate security barriers. Imagine the public outcry today if the building was seriously damaged, or even worse, MSPs, staff, interested members of the public and media personnel were to come to physical harm because of lax security.

It is the job of the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, MSPs and staff to minimise the chance of that happening. It is their job, too, to ensure that police powers to limit protest are not abused. They should do so in a way that the parliament we elected remains accessible, safe and part of a vibrant democracy.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

A third way

Rather than harping on about whether or when and who allows us to have one, could we please address the problem of the questions to be asked on a referendum. No longer would it be pertinent to have a binary "yes/no" format. Many voters do not want Scotland to go it alone; many do not wish the status quo to remain. There should be a third question. Some would suggest a Federal arrangement, others would come up with different possibilities. It is important that we are not caught unprepared,

Margot Kerr, Inverness

Paraffin power

Lack of gas; power station closure; unreliable wind and solar power; all have piled unprecedented pressure on our grid. In addition, Irish energy imports via the undersea Moyle cable have been cut off twice in recent days as Ireland protects itself. In Europe nuclear plants are offline; gas-fired plants are shut; the key cable by which we import French power is on hold. Factories have diesel generators to keep going during the looming power-outages but what should householders do?

Well, sales of paraffin stoves have begun to soar as the more farsighted among residential customers realise traditional wick-designed models are surprisingly efficient. There are also electronic versions requiring a small electrical impulse to start their operation. Once the start-up is done it won’t need feeding from a power source so a battery will suffice. A fan distributes emitted heat throughout the room.

As for light, apart from candles and torches, the traditional propane lantern is best. It has a lamp element sitting on top of a small propane tank, which acts as both the lamp base and fuel source. It generates a lot of light for a long time and is easy to use.

So it’s back to the 19th century but while the EU fears yellow jacket protests about the cost, we meekly pay Europe’s highest prices and allow the country to be brought to a standstill by Extinction Rebellion demanding we pay more!

John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife

Call for change

The SNP say they will “look into” startling reports that the “un-hackable” phones they gave to inmates in Scotland’s prisons are being freely used to conduct drug deals, and perhaps even worse, from inside the walls of our prisons.

It seems that everything the SNP touches has the reverse Midas touch. Nothing whatsoever is properly thought through. Objections are trampled on and these now common blunders will continue until a system is in place such that people will be allowed to say that the emperor is unclothed without fear of retribution of some kind.

The time for “looking into it” was surely before they were issued. Och, I suppose it happens.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

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Time to deliver

Murdo Fraser says pandemic recovery should be our uniting national focus (Perspective, 15 September). The Tory idea of recovery is to cut Universal Credit, making 400,000 Scots more than £1,000 poorer in the midst of the pandemic and energy price spikes. Over two thirds of Scots oppose these cuts, the same proportion that voted against Brexit.

But what the Scottish people want has never been a Tory concern. The Tartan Tories voted for Boris’ hard Brexit deal, the devolution-shattering Internal Market Act, a public sector pay freeze, slash aid to the world’s poorest, and voted against free meals for hungry kids. This is why they are scarce in Scotland and the SNP and Greens are in power.

It’s time for the Scottish Government to deliver on independence. Then the recovery can really begin.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

Mixed messages

Every time a Conservative politician demands unity I am reminded of the conduct of Conservative governments from Thatcher through to Brexit, the present cuts to Universal Credit and so much more. It is a very long list of evidence that Conservatives, sometimes with little more than 40 per cent of the UK popular vote, use power in the interests of their own supporters and donors. “Uniting us” it is not. So Murdo Fraser begins with a distinct disadvantage – hypocrisy and humbug – when he demands that the First Minister “starts governing for all of Scotland’s people”.He then fails to articulate what unity and governing for all looks like in a democracy. The party which brought us Brexit – apparently 52 per cent was “the will of the people” – is now trying to establish some new dispensation for Scotland in which a majority is not enough as it might just be temporary or it lacks “loser’s consent, leaving an angry and bitter minority”.Just as strange and confusing is the argument that a Holyrood majority for a referendum in 2014 was “a mandate not in doubt” whereas an even larger majority in 2021 is the opposite. The obvious explanation is that in 2014 the Conservatives and other unionist parties were convinced they would win.Now, with independence support nudging ahead, the First Minister should demand that Murdo Fraser and his allies drop their unionism for the sake of “unity” and get behind independence. But that’s just ridiculous, isn’t it?

Robert Farquharson, Edinburgh

Bonded labour?

I agree with Aidan Smith ( Perspective, 15 September) th at Daniel Craig “doth protest too much” about the rigours and mental stress of taking on the Bond role. He knew exactly what was expected of him, and reportedly said he would rather slash his wrists than do another Bond film. Now, having been offered tens of millions, he’s done another Bond film, but “only for the money”.

This is a man on record as saying he finds talking about money “distasteful”. Luckily, he has an agent to do it for him. Craig is apparently now the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, so if he wants us to take him seriously he could start by insisting on a clause in his contracts to direct the many millions he doesn’t need straight to much worthier causes than a vastly overpaid, insensitive actor.

Craig... Daniel Craig, it’s Time to Go.

Kathryn Sharp, Edinburgh

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