Readers' Letters: Independence Minister wrong about Brown and Vow

Given that the Supreme Court ruled a vote for “independence” is not within Holyrood’s remit, what isnote-0note-1 “Independence Minister” Jamie Hepburn note-2note-3for – to say nothing of the phalanx of civil servants around him for whom, like Mr Hepburn, we pay handsomely.
SNP MSP and Minister for Independence Jamie HepburnSNP MSP and Minister for Independence Jamie Hepburn
SNP MSP and Minister for Independence Jamie Hepburn

And this is at a time of financial stringency. Isn’t it enough that we already have “Airmiles Angus” and his empire, spreading SNP separatist propaganda to foreigners, to pay for?Mr Hepburn has surfaced to blame Gordon Brown for the 2014 “Vow”. In fact, the written Vow was signed by Messrs David Cameron, Nick Clegg and David Miliband, the main party leaders. Its text is merely anodyne – soothing words tell us that “The Scottish parliament is permanent and extensive new powers… will be delivered by the process and to the timetable agreed and announced by our three parties...” New powers were indeed enshrined in the Scotland Act 2016. The Barnett goodies are endorsed in the Vow, with special mention for “the final say on how much is spent on the NHS will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament”. Well, that has worked well, hasn’t it, with waiting times in Scotland now far outstripping those in England?

In demanding Mr Brown apologise for the Vow allegedly not being kept, Mr Hepburn demonstrates only his ignorance. Mr Brown was not a party to the Vow, he had no public position at all in 2014; whatever he said was not his to promise. Further, Mr Hepburn clearly has not read the Vow. If he scoured it assiduously, he still would find nothing in it about “as close to a federal state as you can be”.Mr Hepburn also complains about Brexit. The EU Commission made it explicit to Holyrood in 2014 that if Scotland left the UK it would at the same time leave the EU. It could not have been clearer. A Yes vote in 2014 was a vote to leave the EU.

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This is all ancient history but don’t blame me for dredging it up. It is the clueless, pointless Jamie Hepburn who has done that.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Poor show

The perfect example of how the SNP/Green coalition runs Scotland from top to bottom is now available as we enter the month of June. Their local fiefdom of Glasgow has introduced their long-hailed Low Emission Zone (LEZ) scheme to ban older vehicles from the city centre area and thus, presumably, lessen pollution.

Their plan, unfortunately, like all the SNP/Green cunning plans that preceded it, has a not-thought-through implication. It will result in the fining of, among many other things, volunteer-run charities using older road transport in which fresh food is brought daily to feed the poorest of the poor in the city’s soup kitchens. As apparently one soup kitchen operates under the Central Station Bridge and in a prominent place, many observers feel that this is a good chance for the SNP-run city authorities to get rid of an embarrassing open-air display of poverty in Glasgow that reflects badly on them.

In a nutshell, it is how the SNP/Greens conduct things whenever and wherever they have the power to do so.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Cycle of fumes

Yesterday, mine and several other vehicles had to follow a cyclist along a city street for around 300yds before an opportunity to pass occurred. At low and varying speeds of around ten miles an hour this will have produced a huge increase in emissions. This will be being repeated thousands it time a day throughout the centre of Edinburgh.

It would seem reasonable that if the council actually wishes to reduce emissions, rather than to appear virtuous, they ban cyclists from the proposed LEZs. Oddly, I have never seen this considered in any of the discussion documents issued on the subject by the council .

David Hogg, Edinburgh

Police failure

The recent statement by Chief Constable Sir Ian Livingstone has taken most people by surprise and brought incredulity. In addition to the Chief, Police Scotland’s executive team consists of four Deputy Chief Constables, ten Assistant Chief Constables and four civilian senior executives. This amounts to at least 350 years of experience and an annual salary bill of at least £2 million.

With the Chief in post since 2018, what in heaven’s name has gone wrong in this organisation that these supposedly knowledgeable professionals have allowed this to happen? “Institutional racism, sexism and institutional discrimination” are very serious issues for any organisation and clearly some of these “executives” are underqualified, over-promoted and must take responsibility.

Douglas Cowe, Kingseat, Aberdeenshire

Missing target

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Richard Dixon (“Finger of attribution points to Big Oil over climate change”, 31 May) again talks up the supposed climate crisis and alleged Armageddon caused by “Big Oil”. Yet he is oddly silent about the real and present danger of nuclear war. Greenpeace was originally founded on environmentalism and world peace, but its campaign against nuclear weapons faded a long time ago. It’s remarkable how Greenpeace, Just Stop Oil, Labour, the SNP, and the scores of pressure groups so concerned about oil extraction – without which our modern way of life could not exist – are silent about the possibility of humanity and all living things being wiped out in 24 hours.

Nato and Russia have 12,000 nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction against which there is no defence and which could be launched at any time. It is reported that the US military, as part of its “upgrading” of its nuclear armaments, is planning to redeploy nuclear weapons to RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk which, in a time of war with Russia, is not a good idea at all.

William Loneskie, Oxton, Lauder, Berwickshire

Bottled satire

I was sorry to hear that the proposed drinks binge to be held in a brewery, being arranged by our Circularity Minister to celebrate the launch of DRS has been cancelled. Organisational problems apparently.

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

Glass ceiling

Green minister Lorna Slater stated that the “Deposit return scheme could be scrapped without glass U-turn” (your report, 1 June). All 32 councils have very efficient recycling schemes for glass bottles so could she possibly tell us how many jobs in the 32 local authorities and elsewhere will be lost if glass were to be included in her DRS scheme?

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Vale of tears

It is no surprise that Lady Hallett is experiencing difficulty in getting full disclosure of information for her Covid Inquiry (“No 10 deny cover-up”, 31 May). One only hopes that as the Inquiry proceeds she doesn't run into problems as big as those encountered by Lord MacLean when he chaired the Vale of Leven Hospital inquiry (about a lethal C.difficile outbreak) at the request of Nicola Sturgeon.

Notable examples were attempts by the Health Board to prevent evidence being taken regarding nursing care, including DNAR decisions, because it deemed such evidence to be irrelevant, while getting copies of patient records from the Health Board was harder than getting blood out of a stone. When records were eventually disclosed, laboratory test results were missing and photocopies were very poor with dates obscured. Requests were still being made three years after the start of the inquiry for missing documents. The Inquiry took five years and cost £10 million.

I declare an interest; one of my children was born at the Vale, long before it fell on hard times.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Snake oil salesmen

Hats off to Jacob Rees-Mogg for saying the unsayable in Tory ranks – that no rational person would swap benefits for budgetarily unviable employment in an economy addicted to pittance wages sustained by unfettered immigration, a fact known since the Speenhamland system of 1795.

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As one about to, thankfully, re-enter work, I’ve encountered countless talented people in the same boat, tossed aside like rubbish by employers who prize the aesthetic over the academic, racial tribalism over raw talent. Britain gets the toxic work cultures it deserves.

Worst of all is the rising belief across all strata of society in the Yorkshire nirvana – that it is acceptable to aspire to “Owt for Nowt!” Never in British history has so much of our greatest natural resource – its citizenry – been squandered by a wilfully out of touch social, political and media elite spoon-feeding them dangerous snake oil on life and how to live it.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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