Readers' Letters: Is Sturgeon’s focus ‘laser-like’ or blinkered?

Nicola Sturgeon’s column (Perspective, 4 May) emphasised her “laser-like” focus on Scotland’s emergence from the Covid pandemic.

Is Nicola Sturgeon making 'pie-crust promises' to electorate? (Picture: Getty)

However, it could be construed as being more “blinkered” than “laser-like”. She sets out all the attractive bribes that her party offers to the electorate without a credible plan to pay for them in the longer term. The wider economic implications of secession from the UK are ignored, as are the annually recurring twin fiscal and trade deficits.

The SNP’s pitch to the electorate appears to be more pie crust promises, frequent references to Boris Johnston and Sturgeon’s experience and “leadership” during the Covid crisis. Desperation?

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James Quinn, Howacre, Lanark

Not so austere

There are many holes that can be picked in Nicola Sturgeon's article; two if I may. She tells us of her “laser-like focus' on the pandemic” – may one ask where was this focus during the care home scandal? The SNP keeps trotting out the old mantra about “Tory austerity” – this at a time when the Tory government is throwing money around like water, which, incidentally is the policy of Boris even in normal times!

William Ballantine, Dean Road, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Covid crawl

As at 1 May the Office of National Statistics estimates one in 1,000 people have Covid-19. About one third of these have no symptoms and could join us in the pub. That's one in 3,000 and falling. As only about half of these visit pubs, that's one in 6,000 We'd have to go on quite a pub crawl to find this one, and the chances of us jabbed folk then catching anything more than a sniffle are low to vanishing.

So what's the point in pub passports?

Barry Tighe, Matson Court, Woodford Green

Sour grapes?

Kit Fraser's letter yesterday referring to "the settled will of the Scots people" in favour of secession from the UK should recall a fact no doubt very "sour" to the SNP. In the past, only about 20-25 per cent of the Scottish electorate has voted for the break-up of the UK.

(Dr) Charles Wardrop, Viewlands Road West, Perth

Stop this madness

Tomorrow, voters in Scotland of all genders and sexualities have their only chance of stopping changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which could set back LGBTQ+ acceptance in society by 50 years.

Our "betters" in the SNP, Greens, Labour, Tories and Lib Dems intend legalising "Self-ID". Police and authorities – under threat of prosecution or litigation for "transphobia" – will be hamstrung from stopping "self-gendered" known sex predators making women's safe spaces their hunting grounds (toilets, changing rooms, even prisons) until it is too late.Holyrood is so divorced from reality, it refuses to discuss publicly legislation it knows will be wildly open to abuse, making lazy ad hominem attacks to the slightest objections. The madness of this Sex Predators' Charter must be stopped. This election is not about independence, it's about women's safety.

Mark Boyle, Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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20 years to EU?

It may be acceptable (if somewhat disingenuous) for the SNP to refuse to address questions surrounding the economic case for Scotland leaving the UK until they publish their case in the run up to a referendum. However, they tend to present Scotland in the UK and Scotland in Europe as though they were immediately viable alternative outcomes. This is simply not the case.

There would appear to be four sequential stages to Scotland becoming an independent country in the EU..

The first stage covers the period from reaching agreement in principle with the UK government about holding a referendum until that referendum takes place. For the 2014 referendum this took two and a half years.

Then, after a vote in favour of Scotland leaving the UK, there would be a period of negotiation on the terms of separation. The issues are much more complex than for Brexit, so it is hard to see that period being less than the three and a half years that took.

At this point Scotland becomes an independent country but outside the UK and outside the EU. To join the EU, Scotland must demonstrate that it has a properly functioning market economy. This is very unlikely to be achieved until Scotland has a central bank controlling its own currency. The SNP Sustainable Growth Commission suggested that this (third stage) would take ten years, though other commentators consider this optimistic.

Finally, the process of applying for EU membership, negotiating the terms and EU member states ratifying that agreement can be expected to take four to five years.

So in total, Scotland appears to be around 20 years away from EU membership. This would be a period of continued uncertainty and, with border friction affecting all international trade, it is hardly an environment to encourage investment.

It would aid the debate if those in favour of seceding set out the timescale to achieving their objective of an independent Scotland within the EU and concede that there will be some very challenging economic issues to address to get from here to there

George Rennie, Inverness

Same old mantra

The questions commissioned by the anti-Scottish self-government organisation These Islands (your report, 4 May) didn’t ask respondents if they knew that GERS is merely an estimated notional assessment of Scotland’s economy under Westminster’s control of the main fiscal levers and not of how an independent Scotland with different priorities would perform.

Almost one third of the 2020 notional GERS deficit was interest charged to Scotland on the UK’s National Debt run up by Westminster and in January 2014 HM Treasury said it would honour its responsibility for the UK’s National Debt in full up to the date of Scottish independence. If liable for a share of this, Scotland would be also be entitled for a share of the UK’s assets and currency reserves.

Did These Islands ask why it might be that similar-sized independent countries like Norway, Denmark, Finland and Ireland all have a much higher GDP than Scotland under Westminster rule? When Unionists trot out their deficit mantra, they are never challenged by broadcasters on any of these points. Post-Covid, all countries will run high deficits for many years to come and a self-governing Scotland with its own Central Bank can just print money to stimulate our economy.

We have choices to make on the best way to recover from the economic devastation caused by Boris Johnson’s cavalier handling of the Covid pandemic and on the UK government imposing London’s priorities on Scotland over the heads of our democratically elected Scottish Parliament.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh

Uneasy virtue

Unlike every other party, the Greens’ manifesto condemns what it calls the “pursuit of endless economic growth” and suggests life should be stripped back to what is “essential” - presumably living in caves on a diet of lentils. But the fact is that economic growth pays for the public services upon which our society depends.

The costs of health and social care inevitably increase, so lower growth means poorer services. This won’t bother green celebs in private jets but as those who bear the brunt will be the poor and the disabled, the SNP should reconsider before lining up with Patrick Harvie’s virtue signallers and their sanctimonious cant.

(Rev Dr) John Cameron, Howard Place, St Andrews

Photo flop

As two people involved in the current Holyrood election campaign with long experience in the media, we read Head of Audio Visual Andrew O’Brien’s commentary yesterday with interest (“Alas the season of election photocalls is almost over”).

Your columnist placed Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie as “leader of the pack”, going the extra mile to make the campaign “fun and interesting”. We contrast that with your recent report (24 April) that Mr Rennie explained “his tendency to be involved in bizarre photo opportunities” saying “I don’t take myself too seriously”).

Perhaps that’s why no-one seems to take the Lib Dems seriously either. We believe your photo of him on the front page yesterday was perhaps the first where a policy was even mentioned in the caption. During election campaigns, balanced media coverage ensures even a minority party like the Lib Dems will win column inches. The trick of the good photo op is to link a resultant front page picture firmly in the public eye to the party’s flagship policies. We note that appears to be a vanishing skill in all the Scottish parties.

Stuart Crawford and Kit Fraser, Hailes Green, Mill Wynd, Haddington

Cart before horse

June Banks is not the only one concerned about the promotion of “unexplored' Scotland driving routes. Wild about Argyll are now promoting a new “Route 66” on the Kintyre peninsula using the East coast side B842 road. This road is only suitable for horse and cart, pre-1960 Ford family saloons or Tour de France qualified cyclists. There is no infrastructure for camper vans and, apart from at Carradale, any watering holes!

Such ideas should not be promoted until local authorities get their acts together and provide adequate facilities and grants to facility providers to welcome the undoubted hordes that can manage to get aboard an un-cancelled ferry at Ardrossan.

Cart before the horse, methinks.

Archie Burleigh, Meigle, Skelmorlie, North Ayrshire

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