Readers' Letters: Independence case hurt by rose-tinted specs

It’s hardly a ringing endorsement of Nicola Sturgeon’s independence strategy that leading academic James Mitchell should label her latest paper “dismal, negative, uninspiring” and “utterly fanciful” (your report, 18 July).

Are the expensive civil servants being used to compile these documents wasting their time? Given that most media attention is at present being focused on finding out who will be the next Prime Minister, Ms Sturgeon's independence crusade seems to be getting sidelined and such negative comments about her vision for the future of Scotland will not inspire people.

Even Tory leadership candidate Kemi Badenoch had the temerity to accuse the Scottish Government of delivering lower educational standards, presiding over spiralling cancer treatment waiting times and screwing up the country's transport system, allegations hotly denied by the head-in-the-sand SNP. They are even in denial about messing up the Census and letting down Ukrainian refugees. If the SNP stops looking at Scotland through rose-tinted glasses and tackles the day-to-day issues successfully, the public might see their pronouncements to be more credible and worth considering.

Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Stirlingshire

Nicola Sturgeon has let down Ukrainian refugees, says reader. (Picture: Robert Perry-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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Near myths

There is no doubt that a large proportion of the population has the same deluded outlook as many of those commenting on Rishi Sunak's hope to become the next Conservative leader, as expressed in Online Comments in The Scotsman (20 July). I should add that I would not want this gentleman leading the country as I think that he doesn't understand that lower taxes stimulate growth and increase Government take, as Nigel Lawson showed in the 1980s.

However, the comments showed the degree of profound ignorance of many who are clearly on the separatist side of the argument. One commentator suggested that revenue from “whisky, renewables, medical research etc is too much for Westminster to lose”. What amount do these industries bring in revenue? Not all that much, welcome though it is. Another asked why Westminster "want(s) to keep us? Money", but what money?

For obvious reasons of political benefit, nationalists create myths about how wealthy Scotland is, such as Tam Mulligan (“Scotland has an abundance of natural resources, England has none”). This is pure disinformation.

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Much political discourse is based upon the manipulation of information. The Scottish nationalist argument is largely based upon a combination of misinformation (incorrect information) as well as disinformation (deliberately deceptive information) about how wealthy Scotland is and how "Westminster" steals Scotland’s money. Poverty and ignorance are best friends and it is little wonder that nationalism is strongest where both are endemic.

Andrew H N Gray, Edinburgh

Muddled Midas

And so it rolls on, another Nicola Sturgeon back-of-a-fag-packet policy, “Super Sponsor”, loudly trumpeted from the lady herself, bites the dust. A quick glance at housing waiting lists across Scotland and hostels full of our own homeless people would have shown that accommodation for Ukrainian refugees in large numbers is just not available. In her constant battle to upstage the Westminster government all Nicola Sturgeon is doing is creating problems and costing Scotland unnecessary expenditure. Once again it’s King Midas in reverse – everything the Scottish Government touches turns to disaster. This SNP government are a bunch of amateurs trying to play a professional game.

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Ian Balloch, Grangemouth, Falkirk

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Scottish independence: Academic labels independence democracy paper 'utterly fan...

A better way

Whether Tweedledum or Tweedledee becomes the next Prime Minister, there will be no genuine attempt by the Westminster Government to seriously consider the wishes of the people of Scotland. The desire to build a close trading relationship with our European neighbours or to construct a modern democratic structure that reflects what was presented as the Union of 1707, or even what was proclaimed during the referendum of 2014, will be arrogantly dismissed.

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There is no partnership, never mind a “Partnership of Equals”, and in fact we now have anglophiles telling us Scotland is no longer a country while they themselves act as if England persists as the UK. Union Jacks will continue to be wrapped around the new “Premier” with the flag of St George given the prominence appropriate to a right-wing narrative tacitly supported by many compliant spectators as well as by the increasing number of strident voices given platforms by the puppets of the media barons.

As history repeats itself many will come to regret not having opened their eyes wider or spoken out louder when an increasingly authoritarian government gave license, often furtively but sometimes blatantly, to a more disdainful, unjust and unequal society. While feeding selfish ambitions, food banks proliferate and the general public are encouraged to be scornful of the poor, the disadvantaged or those fleeing catastrophic circumstances in the countries of their birth. Through self-determination Scotland can show there is a better way, based on respect for one’s neighbours, compassion for those in need and equality of opportunity for all, not only for those aligned to an ideology of greed or diverted by personal privilege.

Whether Tweedledum or Tweedledee, for the sake of all the people inhabiting these islands he or she must be the last Prime Minister of the long-dysfunctional UK.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

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Being where?

A few years ago, just after Boris Johnson had become Prime Minister, I had a letter published in The Scotsman comparing him to the Robert Redford character in the classic 1970s political satire The Candidate. The film tells the story of a charismatic but clueless presidential candidate who gives the electorate what they want to hear and is not expected to win, but does. The final scene shows Redford looking around his grim-faced advisers, while outside his supporters chant his name, and ask: “What do we do now?”With the favourite to succeed Johnson being the inexplicable and permanently bewildered Liz Truss, may I suggest another viewing of Peter Sellers’ final film, the brilliant Being There, to demonstrate just how far our political system has plummeted recently.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

Union blues

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Colin Hamilton (Letters, 20 July) is guilty of peddling GERS figures that are estimates of how badly Scotland fares as part of the Union compared to our independent northern European neighbours which all have a much higher standard of living.

An independent Scotland should not be liable for a share of the UK’s national debt without a pro rata share of the UK’s assets. Also, if you add the UK government’s windfall tax to the projected OBR figures, next year’s GERS should show £13 billion in oil and gas revenues from Scotland’s North Sea waters compared to £414 million in 2020-21. And this is based on a much lower oil and gas tax regime than in Norway.

Despite the climate emergency, most analysts predict that demand for oil and gas will remain high for decades to come with correspondingly higher tax revenues. Under Westminster control of energy policy, the oil price rise is no help to the Scottish Government’s budget or for Scotland’s energy consumers, who already pay the highest standing charges in the UK.

As part of the Union, we have the highest inflation in 40 years, the highest taxation in 70 years, the biggest drop in living standards for 65 years, the biggest fall in wages since records began and the UK trade performance is at an all-time low. Brexit is a large factor in the UK’s projected long-term austerity but Labour and the Lib Dems have given up on rejoining the EU, or even the single market. Given our vast natural resources and highly educated population, an independent Scotland would do so much better.

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Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Logic lack

It's enlightening to read that, according to a recent correspondent, only a “real” country can become independent, but only an independent country can be a “real” country.It's good to know that, when all else fails, we have flawless logic to keep the Union intact.

David Robertson, Glasgow

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National flexibility

Bill Cooper (Letters 15 and 20 July) questions whether Scotland, and indeed, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are Nations. Leaving aside the political and historical aspects of the discussion, so far as sport is concerned of course they are, otherwise why would they be included in the Six Nations Rugby competition? However, in Rugby Union Ireland represents two nations, namely Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In Football the nations compete as England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Confused?

It seems in sport the idea of Nation is flexible. In Athletics competitors represent Great Britain in the Olympics and World Athletic Championships yet their home nations of England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth games. The term “Great Britain” is misleading as it excludes Northern Ireland, geographically part of the island of Ireland. Great Britain geographically is composed of Scotland, England and Wales plus a number of smaller islands. The situation is no clearer in other sports. In Tennis Andy Murray plays for GB at Wimbledon, in Golf Rory McIlroy represents Northern Ireland in the Open.

It would be better to refer to teams comprising the four Nations to be referred to as Team UK rather than Team GB or for each nation to compete separately.

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Paul Birrell, Linlithgow, West Lothian

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