Readers' Letters: Has Independence campaign already begun?

From reading the papers over the last few weeks, it would appear that there is an independence campaign well under way, with extensive coverage of pension provision, companies talking about leaving again and analysis of our economic position. We have even had SNP politicians going off to the Ukraine for an expensive photo opportunity to emphasise their international reputation, as if anyone was taken in by that.

Alyn Smith was one of three SNP MSPs who recently turned up in the Ukraine (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)
Alyn Smith was one of three SNP MSPs who recently turned up in the Ukraine (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

Back in 2012, the Scottish Government at least had the good manners to announce that a campaign was underway, and they gave us a date. No such niceties this time. It seems like the argument is going to be instigated before any plan is in place.

The interesting feature in all this is that nothing significant has changed since 2014. Back then, the Yes campaign lost the referendum because they did not have a compelling economic case. Despite having seven years to rectify this, there are no proposals to address this at all. The truth, of course, is that the economic argument is a strength of the Union, and there is nothing that the SNP can do about that. So, having no plan, we have irritating arguments, enough to divert attention from other important issues, but nothing of substance, which even their own supporters can see. Can Nicola Sturgeon not just admit that this is not going to happen, difficult for her as that might be?

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Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Oil change

The SNP'S quest for Independence rolls on with little or no change to the nationalist tune. But then, of course, there is their latest alliance with the Greens designed to provide them with a much-needed slim majority at Holyrood. But sparks are bound to fly because in reality the new partners have very little in common with them politically.

And what, prithee, has happened to the slogan created by generations of SNP zealots, “Scotland's Oil”? Has it just gone up in smoke since the Glasgow Conference on climate change? It is very likely that oil and gas exploration will continue for some time in both the North Sea, and in the Atlantic to the west of Shetland.

To appease their Green friends the SNP will no doubt express their opposition to such matters, but then Energy is not a devolved power. Any more than are matters pertaining to the Constitution.

The UK Government is still totally responsible for all such matters, as well as: Macro-Economic and Fiscal Issues; Foreign Policy and International Relations; and Defence and National Security.

Robert I G Scott, Ceres, Fife

A&E times

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has asserted that as we are now coming out of the pandemic it is time to relaunch the quest for independence. If this is the case then Scots ought to expect that A&E waiting times would be commensurately better as we return to normal – but they are not, they are worse.

More than one in four patients waited in excess of the “legal guarantee” time of four hours in the latest figures. This begs the question: has Nicola Sturgeon moved too quickly for another referendum or is Humza Yousaf failing in his oversight of the Scottish NHS?

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Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Facts ignored

Kenny MacAskill refers to the millions who “died for Mother Russia” in the Second World War, but unless he includes Ukraine in that phrase as Putin probably does, he ignores the fact that Ukraine suffered a greater proportion of deaths than Russia itself (though Belarus exceeded both).

Also, like far too many others, he ignores that Stalin’s USSR was Hitler’s willing ally for the first 22 months of the 68 months of the war in Europe, politically, diplomatically and militarily, having joined the rape of Poland in 1939 and supplied fuel to the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in 1940; that many Soviet deaths resulted from Stalin’s purges of his military and civilian leaders in the 1930s, and from his disbelieving the warnings by Churchill and others of German invasion plans; and that others were caused by NKVD thugs behind the ordinary Soviet soldiers forcing them towards better-equipped German troops.

Ben Wallace’s comment on the 1938 Munich Agreement was in reference to some western suggestions of a “Finlandisation solution” which would effectively impose Russian hegemony on Ukraine; and Liz Truss did propose a settlement – the correct one, that Russian troops withdraw from the border region and respect Ukraine’s independence, as Russia agreed in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

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Goodbye to bile

How depressing it is for so many of us to be living in present-day, nationalist-run Scotland. The latest to suffer at the hands of hate-filled nationalist extremists is Sarah Smith. A talented journalist, a daughter of the ‘’best prime minister we never had,’’ expressed her relief at the BBC assigning her to be a news editor in the USA. She is relieved, she said, to be free of the ‘’bile, hatred and misogyny’’ of Scottish politics. If even a fraction of what she recounts is accurate, we have indeed descended into a hate-filled Orwellian nightmare of a country.

She tells of being accosted while out walking by passing motorists, rolling down their windows and screaming the most horrendous, insulting abuse. She claims, with good reason, it is all because her father was a well-known pro-UK politician, adding he has been dead for 27 years.

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When will this end? When will the poisonous peddlers of nationalist hate, online and off, come to their senses and see the kind of society they are creating and the damage they do the image of the country they profess to love? Paraphrased Orwell was right: nationalism is the hatred of other countries and patriotism the love of one’s own.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

No imagination

Yesterday James Dornan, the SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, wrote in a tweet regarding Sarah Smith, the former BBC Scotland editor, that she “imagined” the bile, hatred and misogyny she had experienced in Scotland. When the Times editor reported on this tweet, Dornan in my opinion doubled down on his attitude by saying perhaps he should have said “exaggerated”.

Who is James Dornan to think he can determine what impact the behaviour Ms Smith endured had on her? It clearly made enough of an impact for her to leave her homeland and move to the US.

I remember when Sarah Smith spoke of Nicola Sturgeon enjoying the opportunity to set her own Covid rules. Only a half-wit would have thought that Ms Smith meant that the First Minister took any pleasure from it but Ms Smith was hounded until she had apologised on more than one occasion for using a word which offended the SNP.

I despair that we have a political culture in Scotland now which determines what people can and can’t say and who can be offended.

No apology will be forthcoming from Mr Dornan, no doubt, let alone more than one.

Jane Lax, Aberlour

Not quite

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The suggestion by J Lewis (Letters, 17 February) that the Scottish Government could “increase the personal tax allowances” is a non-starter, as the Scottish Government does not have the legal powers to increase Personal Allowances. The SG states online that: “Responsibility for setting the tax-free Personal Allowance, and reliefs and exemptions, remains reserved to the UK Parliament.”

E Campbell, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire

Statue debate

In his article “Edinburgh counts the cost of Dundas plaque shambles” (Perspective, 16 February), Martyn McLaughlin quotes Professor Sir Tom Devine, Scotland's foremost historian, as describing the monument's re-contextualisation as “bad history” and Jonathan Hearn, professor of political and historical sociology at the University of Edinburgh characterised it as a “distortion”.

However, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Scotland's first black professor (and of brewing, not history) has accused Sir Tom and others of being members of an “academic racist gang”. This is without foundation, outrageous and racist. Or is it only whites who can be racist?

Colin McAllister, St Andrews, Fife

Lacks context

Jane Lax (Letters, February 16) blames Scotland’s Covid measures on suppressing economic activity vis-à-vis England. Apart from the fact that Scotland’s Covid death rate and infection levels are far lower than England’s – surely she recognises value in saving lives? – she ignores demography.

According to the Office of National Statistics, 19.3 per cent of Scots are over 65, compared to 18.5 per cent in England and 18.6 per cent across the UK, and the median age of Scots is 42.1 compared to England’s 40.2 and the UK’s 40.4.A bigger challenge for Scotland’s economic future is addressing the labour variations within Scotland. As North Sea oil and gas production declines, the North East economy will require substantial investment to realise the opportunities afforded by renewables.

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But the key macroeconomic powers, such as large-scale economic borrowing, are reserved to Westminster. London’s decision to invest in carbon capture and storage projects in northern England over the Aberdeenshire Acorn project will cost Scottish jobs and slow economic growth.

The decision, driven by the Tories’ desire to cling onto northern England’s “Red Wall” seats rather than save jobs in the North East of Scotland illustrates why Scotland needs the full powers of independence.

Otherwise, we’ll continue to be ruled by a Westminster government that will never put Scotland’s interests first.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

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