Readers' Letters: Is proposed 'welcome to Scotland' sculpture Scottish enough?

On Saturday The Scotsman carried the story of the proposal to erect a 35m high metallic sculpture, The Star of Caledonia, on the border crossing with England at Gretna Green, costing a huge sum of money.
It is hoped the new 'Star of Caledonia' sculpture near Gretna Green could be completed by 2026. Image: Balmond StudioIt is hoped the new 'Star of Caledonia' sculpture near Gretna Green could be completed by 2026. Image: Balmond Studio
It is hoped the new 'Star of Caledonia' sculpture near Gretna Green could be completed by 2026. Image: Balmond Studio

While I can admire the imagination and workmanship which would go into the sculpture’s creation I cannot see it as a welcoming symbol for any tourists coming to Scotland for the first time. Surely a sculpture with a more recognisably Scottish theme would by more appropriate at the Border to greet travellers?

A good example is set by The Kelpies by the Forth and Clyde Canal, celebrating the horses which worked so hard there in the past.

Sandy Macpherson, Edinburgh

Waste of money

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Eleven million pounds for a giant medieval Instrument of torture to welcome visitors to Scotland? I’m sure someone means well. If all the philanthropists involved were to get together I think their money could be put to better use. Maybe a wee hospital or a couple of schools, as our government doesn’t seem to have the cash for things like that.

Bruce Proctor, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Good riddance

The defection of Lee Anderson MP, on the face of it, is a blow to the Conservatives. However, as he is regarded as a right wing renegade, who is not at home in the Tories, his leaving can be seen as positive for them.

William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Magic money

Economics teaches that we have limited resources but infinite wants. Difficult choices must be made. However, Pol Yates thinks otherwise (Letters, 8 March): “The idea that the UK has a finite amount of money is not true and is rejected by many economists.” This refers to the discredited Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), supported by just a tiny minority of academics. Scottish separatists love MMT because it absolves them from fiscal accountability. It promises things they’re desperate to hear, such as the notion that countries can accumulate unlimited debts without financial consequences. It would be interesting to hear any examples of this theory actually working in practice.

Pol Yates demands food security and that we stop “harming the planet.” Reducing fossil fuels and fertiliser in agriculture means increased food prices; do we want green soundbites, or enough to eat? Next on a lengthy wishlist is more NHS and education expenditure. Perpetually throwing cash at these services won’t help if it’s misdirected. Since certain correspondents frequently praise the Irish Republic, why not copy its health system, where most people pay insurance for medical treatment?

Scotland’s “progressive” Curriculum for Excellence triggered an immediate slump in PISA attainment scores, contrasting starkly with those of Ireland, Singapore and even hated England. Our ever-increasing taxes are frittered away on ridiculous virtue-signalling, but there’s no magic money tree, as MMT pretends. If the current Scottish Government is ever replaced, one priority for any new administration should be economic literacy courses for everyone in high school, so that these future voters can make more informed decisions.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Strained trains

I would like to congratulate Stephen Jardine for his excellent article on ScotRail (9 March). He summed up the lack of improvement in ScotRail's product over recent years. Trains becoming slower, not faster, between destinations should never be regarded as progress.

The same day’s Scotsman also contained an article by Alastair Dalton which said that the Scottish Government was ready to spend £1.6 billion on Scotland's railways in the year from April. Many might wonder what value for money the train traveller and the taxpayer are getting from that huge investment.

George Shanks, Edinburgh

We need teachers

So, John Mason MSP thinks Scottish teachers are an “unaffordable luxury” and is happy to see their jobs axed. Rather than lose their talent, perhaps we could find them jobs in our pretendy embassies abroad? Somehow, though, I feel we should prioritise our teachers.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Desperate times

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The Scotsman’s exclusive report by Joseph Anderson, “Huge rise in patients going private to avoid NHS waiting times for tests”, should be a wake-up call for politicians who are wasting money on things that do not really matter in the short term, whereas health does. “Bottle banks £80 million thrown down the green drain by Lorna Slater” is just one recent example (9 March).

The Scottish Government, and I use the word “Government” very loosely, have squandered well over £1.5 billion over the last few years. The founding principle of the NHS was that it should be free at the point of need but long NHS waiting lists have forced people into seeking private treatment. The Scottish Government likes to boast, “where Scotland leads, others will follow”. Well, they should introduce tax relief for private medical treatment at the basic rate of tax and this would help slash waiting times at the NHS.

Private treatment is not just for the rich but for the desperate and those who might die before they receive treatment.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian


It seems bizarre and concerning that a patient was forced to wait 122 hours for treatment last year within a Scottish A&E Department and the latest “waiting” figures give little cause for optimism.

Waiting times within a Third World hospital A&E would most likely be better than this. Surely the word “emergency” gives a clue about the urgency of the situation and the catastrophic failure to treat patients swiftly must inevitably lead to unnecessary premature deaths.

I have great sympathy for the doctors and nurses who are trying their best to keep the health service afloat amid a system which can no longer cope with the pressures of the 21st century.

The Scottish Government has grossly mismanaged the NHS both in terms of change and funding and I can foresee little change in the short term.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Use pollution

Finding a solution to climate change may actually be straightforward. Store it. Science it. Sell it. We should stop releasing pollutants into the air and the waters, but capture them at the source, and store them, and then find a way to recycle them.

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Right now, we can recycle most pollutants, but not cheaply. If we invest in new scientific processes to recycle all of our pollution, instead of just releasing it, our stores of pollutants become a resource. Plastics, for example, can be reduced down to a soft oil.

Pollution will be worth money. Investment companies will help to finance the science. Thousands of new jobs will be created due to new businesses.

So why pollute? Why take our mess and our waste and spread it all over the world?

David Corcoran, Edinburgh

Dark chant

In his report on the Hibs/Rangers cup tie Alan Pattullo mentions the Rangers fans chanting “the Hibs are falling apart again”.

What a pity he doesn’t draw attention to their jovial rendition, “glory glory, what a hell of a way to die” as the medics of both teams dealt with Hibs’ Martin Boyle as he lay unconscious in the middle of the pitch.

Ian Lewis, Edinburgh

Rugby rule

There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth over Saturday's Six Nations result.

I have been watching Scotland rugby matches for more than 50 years ago and way back in the mists of time I decided to adopt Robert Louis Stevenson's dictum: “It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.”

David Hamill, East Linton, East Lothian

Moving forward

Running a country is very basic really. Protect the country from external threats. Protect the country from internal threats. Gradually improve the standard of living and health for everyone.

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Instead, what we have managed to do over the last four decades is to arrive today in a place where it is obvious that none of these basic requirements have been achieved.

The last Prime Minister with any idea of what the country needed was the one that introduced privatisation and the general public to the idea of shared ownership. Both of these initiatives if encouraged and protected would have secured a better country for us all.

Instead, thanks to following governments allowing strategic entities such as Water, Energy and wealth creating industry to be sold off or allowed to be located overseas this country is left bare with the worst of all scenario, no control and even worse, wealth that could and should have been kept in this country being siphoned off to improve lives in other countries.

It seems obvious that any change in government will not rectify the basic problems within our country I feel ashamed that the country that we leave for our children is basically broke and facing decades of penury.

Of course, as a voter in a democratic country we should have been able to change the trajectory of the country but the recent referendum result in Ireland should demonstrate to us that the idea the UK is a democracy is basically a sham.

We can no more influence decision making of the elite than fly. It’s a fact that we voters should consider and decide where we want to go from here.

T Lewis, Coylton, Ayrshire

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