Readers' letters: In Scotland Old Firm is opiate of the masses

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou says his Old Firm derby win made fans forget their problems. That is the problem, Ange!

Is Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou missing the big picture when it comes to Scottish football? (Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Is Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou missing the big picture when it comes to Scottish football? (Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Anyone familiar with the horrible atmosphere from streets to workplaces before, during and after every Old Firm encounter knows only too well what I mean, as Old Firm “junkies” – high on their latest fix of triumphalist bile and self-righteous hate – poison society with their mindless neanderthalism.No other nation attaches such ludicrous importance to two football clubs over real world issues to the extent a mere change of manager is deemed worthy of being Scottish TV's main news headlines: an importance primarily down to the poisonous culture of recreational bigotry they've shed crocodile tears for over 100 years whilst growing rich on keeping thousands in a state of mental and emotional arrested development by appealing to their worst instincts. Scotland's shame, indeed.

Karl Marx called religion the opium of the masses. In Scotland it's the Old Firm, whose miasma still traps much of it in a mental time warp. Pundits said Devolution would change such a mindset and make Scots sort their priorities. Two decades have shown it's not devolution but evolution that's required, but don't hold your breath on our political classes – happy to play footsie with footie's sectarianism twins – taking action any time this side of hell.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

No real help

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak comes to the rescue, reaching out to hard-pressed households in the midst of massive energy rises and the crisis for millions of households that will follow. The Chancellor has awarded rebates through local authority Council Tax, £150 per year rebate for households living in Council Tax Bands A-D. Very credible, until one realises those rebates will be overshadowed and overtaken for those on average earnings (£30,000) by the approaching National Insurance increases, a rise of approx. £200 annually.

Questions arise for those who do not pay Council Tax, those who currently receive full Council Tax rebates? Will they receive retrospective assistance with their fuel bills? This outreach by the Chancellor has to be viewed in the wider picture of the largest welfare cut since the Second World War, with the removal of the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit, the cost of living increases on the weekly shop, increased cost at the pump, tax allowance freeze and now interest rate rises. Energy is not devolved to Holyrood, it is reserved to Westminster and this move by the UK Chancellor is merely a short term sticking plaster, effectively hanging hardworking households out to dry, while they try to stay warm.

Catriona C Clark, Banknock, Falkirk

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Life is cheap

Allan Sutherland and Alexander McKay (Letters, 3 February) are stoking Project Fear when it comes to pensions.

The UK government has a legal obligation to pay pensions to all those who have paid into the system via their NI contributions, so would continue to pay pensioners their pension whether they lived in an independent Scotland, Spain or any other country. It could only get out of that obligation by making a payment to the Scottish Government as part of the separation negotiations, in which case the Scottish Government would take over the responsibility to pay UK pensions to pensioners in Scotland.

Could Scotland afford it? Of course it could.

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First, the cost of providing a pension in Scotland is 8 per cent cheaper than in the UK because of our lower life expectancy, so Scotland is effectively subsidising UK pensions.Second, Scotland is one of the world’s most naturally wealthy countries, possessing over a third of the UK’s natural wealth, including a quarter of renewable energy, 90 per cent of fresh water, 70 per cent of fish landings and 60 per cent of timber. This bounty has been miserably managed by successive Westminster governments, who have squandered it on such follies as mass privatisation of UK assets and tax cuts for the rich. By controlling our own resources and making decisions that benefit Scotland we will be able to build an economy that ensures a prosperous and sustainable future for all, not just the wealthy few.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

A simple plan

Even Baldrick from Blackadder would have struggled to come up with a cunning plan as daft as that of education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville to improve classroom ventilation by chopping off the bottom of doors (your report, 3 February). If that, though, is government thinking then let me refine it in the interest of saving unnecessary cost and ruining doors in the process. Why not use old classroom dusters – of the type that used to get thrown at us when we were being stupid – to wedge open the doors? At least when the stupidity of the plan is revealed the implementation will prove simple to reverse.

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Ken Currie, Edinburgh

It’s not personal

Martin Redfern seems to think criticism in Scotland of Boris Johnson is personal and is done for some sort of electoral advantage (Letters, 2 February). But the Scots increasingly simply wish to have proper governance and are concerned about the dire state of the Westminster government.

Mr Johnson himself should resign as he has broken the ministerial code and misled parliament. But the Westminster government as a whole manifests corruption. Their legislation attacks democracy, including the judiciary and devolved administrations. Brexit undermines our rights. In addition, the Tories’ privatising agenda means public services are being attacked, in particular the NHS.

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Most here wish to adhere to the rule of law, not have this ridden over as the Tories have over the devolved settlement and the Geneva Convention.

Most here wish to also have a public health service. But unless Scotland is independent, the Tories will gradually abolish this in Scotland as they have done very successfully and rapidly in England.

Most here wish for human rights including workers rights so there is protection, for example on trials, privacy and marriage. Again, only an independent government here can retain these.

The independence cause is not faltering. The polls show more than 50 per cent would support independence in a referendum and those who want a democratic say ie an independence referendum, represent a considerably higher percentage.

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Pol Yates, Edinburgh

Our generation

Sarah Baillie claimed that “Scotland now meets its electricity needs from renewables” (Friends of the Scotsman, 31 January). This is incorrect and misleading. Almost every consumer of electricity in Great Britain receives power from the National (Electricity) Grid which is fed by various generators. As I write, only 50.8 per cent derives from renewables, 33.4 per cent comes from burning fossil fuels and 15.7 per cent from low carbon sources. The latter will include nuclear power with some solar.Consumers in Scotland are not isolated; we get the same electricity as the rest of the UK. Nor, contrary to what some companies claim, can the source of the electricity we received be identified as coming from a particular generation source.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

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Blame cyclists

Dr Paul Arnell asks why cyclists are demonised by sections of the press (Perspective, 2 February). Part of the answer lies in the picture accompanying the article, which shows cyclists and cars on a dull, damp day. Most of the vehicles shown have their lights on. The three cyclists are dressed in grey, muted colours which do not stand out in that light. None has any sort of high-viz clothing, nor any lights showing. One is even riding on the pavement.

Drivers don’t like being surprised by cyclists appearing beside them unexpectedly in such gloom. Cyclists such as those pictured are increasing their own risk, and very definitely have a responsibility to make themselves visible. This also applies on country roads, where the earlier a driver can spot them, the better for all concerned

I am only surprised that the Highway Code did not highlight the responsibilities that all of us on our crowded roads have to reduce risk at all times.

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Adair Anderson, Selkirk, Scottish Borders

Late score

While I can appreciate fully the strong feelings on the issue of a newly signed Raith Rovers player having previously been ruled by a judge to have committed rape, I am concerned about the sudden interest of the First Minister in the matter.

Is she really unaware that the same player has for several years been playing for a professional team in Scottish League One? Clyde FC are much closer to the FM’s homeland and he has played there since 2016. In that long period not a word emanated from Nicola Sturgeon.

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Thus, once again, it looks like unmitigated bandwagon jumping, and of course, one of her best friends is making the biggest fuss. But clearly, it was not important enough to mention at any time during the past five years.

This appears just one more example of blatant and sickening political opportunism.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Tapped?

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Laura Waddell’s Perspective column yesterday made me wonder just from where in Scotland she is sourcing her water supply.

She finds in her penultimate paragraph “...mountains ascending to the clouds, bluebells growing in the spring, wind turbines spinning powerfully but peaceably...” all of this in a glass of tap water?

I’ll have some of whatever she’s on please.

EP Carruthers, Lockerbie, Dumfries & Galloway

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