Readers' Letters: It’s wrong to claim Scotland is a ‘real’ country

Nicola Sturgeon continues to make a categorical error as she presents her “refreshed” case for separating Scotland from the rest of the UK.

Along with the whole separatist movement, she insists on talking as if Scotland were a real “country” in the normal sense of the word. It is not, otherwise the likes of Bavaria, South Tyrol, etc would be “countries” too. Scotland is only a country in the context of Great Britain and a more accurate description is that Scotland is a semi-autonomous region of the UK.

Whether Ms Sturgeon's mode of thought and speech is self-deceit after years of repeating the SNP's propaganda or whether it is an attempt to deceive people into thinking that Scotland is a country occupied and repressed by a foreign power, I cannot tell. I suspect a bit of both.

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There are huge swathes of England and Wales which did not vote for the the current governing party but which still got a lying, self-interested charlatan as Prime Minister.

A man takes part in the "Dirndl-Flugtag" event in Mittenwald, southern Germany, wearing an outfit popular in Bavaria, which, says reader, has a similar status to Scotland (Picture: Angelika Warmuth/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)
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There is no more “democratic deficit” in Scotland than in the rest of the UK. That is a result of our scarcely democratic voting system and lack of a proper constitution. Political parties should concentrate on rectifying these problems rather than stirring up poisonous divisions.

Bill Cooper, Kinross, Perth & Kinross

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With great power

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that Scotland needs “the real and permanent alternative” of ‘independence’. The woman whose party complained in 2014 about the pro-UK side's “scaremongering” resorts to... scaremongering. She predicts that the UK government will “shift even further to the right”, with detrimental effects on tax, public services, support for families.

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In most SNP statements and complaints, it seems as if it and its members have not heard of devolution, the entrusting to an administration in Edinburgh of a broad variety of governmental responsibilities, including the vital ones of education, health, transport, housing, policing. Indeed, it seems as if the SNP tries to keep devolution a secret from its supporters, many of whom appear to be ignorant of what it involves. Thus, Ms Sturgeon ignores, in her public utterances, the powers that she already has on tax, public services and support for families. These are considerable.

Ms Sturgeon is a past mistress of the art of pretending that she leads an insurgent opposition to HM government, when after 15 years she leads the Establishment in Scotland. Indeed she is in permanent opposition to the UK and all its works – the shifting of the Census timetable, and its risible outcome, are an example of that. But her party has been in power for a long time, and it needs to take some responsibility for the dire results of its 15 years in office. Ms Sturgeon’s constant blaming of Westminster for all our woes has worn very thin.

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Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Cruise control

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Not bothering to match available housing stock with the number of super-sponsor visas issued, the Scottish Government charters a cruise ship for accommodating displaced Ukranians. The chance to virtue-signal Scottish separatists' moral superiority over “English” Tories clearly proved irresistible. Expect a First Ministerial tour of MS Victoria to pose for selfies with these unfortunate victims of Russian aggression. The irony that Ms Sturgeon's plan to dismember the UK is music to Vladimir Putin's ears would be lost on her; as would the fact that our wayward PM is infinitely more popular in Ukraine than she will ever be. No doubt it will take a Freedom of Information request to reveal the eventual cost to the taxpayer of funding this floating refugee hub.

Martin O’Goman, Edinburgh

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Crack record?

Does Fraser Grant seriously believe people vote for the SNP because of their record in government (Letters, 13 July)? He cites, for example, education, claiming Scotland “outperforms” England. In fact, it doesn't – international reports and experts such as Lindsay Paterson, Professor of Education at Edinburgh University, provide the data and evidence to show that under the SNP's watch there has been a decline in performance. As to the attainment gap – Nicola Sturgeon's “priority” – in view of the fact that it has been getting wider the Education Secretary firstly stated the original aim was unrealistic before rowing back to claim that all would be in fine order by 2026.

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Perhaps voters are queuing up to vote SNP because of the NHS. Records are certainly being broken there. Unfortunately, they are record lows. The target aims for 95 per cent of patients to be seen at A and E within four hours. Currently the figure is 68 per cent and getting lower on a regular basis. The SNP have have certainly got people queuing up in that context.

On the specific issue I raised of the failure of the SNP to deliver on their grandiose claim they would welcome an unlimited number of Ukrainian refugees to Scotland before shutting the door three months later, Mr Grant has nothing to say other than that the Welsh government have suspended their system too.

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This is the problem with SNP apologists. When the shortcomings of their own party are staring them in the face they avert their gaze and scrabble around for a comparison with another UK government which they claim is doing the same or worse, as if the SNP is a party in opposition and not in power. The one thing at which they do excel is pulling the wool over voters' eyes with fairytale promises that independence alone will miraculously create a wealthier, fairer and happier Scotland. Unfortunately some are taken in and that – not their record – is why they vote for the SNP.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

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Work to be done

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has chosen to highlight the “democratic deficit” in Scotland in this week of the Conservative leadership election (your report, 14 July). Shortly we shall have a new Conservative government and a new prime minister chosen without direct reference to the voters. Her argument that Scotland has not voted Conservative since 1955, yet been in government here often, is a strong one. But she is on less fertile ground in her view that the will of the Scottish people, as expressed in Holyrood elections for independence, has been frustrated.

Firstly, the role of the Scottish Government is to run a devolved legislature. Elections to that body only produced around 50-55 per cent turnout in the first 17 years of its existence, though this rose to more than 60 per cent in 2021. It has to be contrasted with the near 85 per cent who went to the polls in the 2014 referendum. Not all those who voted SNP or Green did so because they sought autonomy. There were myriad factors at work. A distinction has to be made between those who vote for these parties because they believe in independence, and those who vote for them because they feel they will run the government well.

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Secondly, on the Westminster front, Ms Sturgeon has been inconsistent. In 2015 when her party came close to winning every seat In Scotland, she was at pains to stress that this was not a vote for independence. By 2017, when Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson lost their seats along with 18 other SNP MPs, the voters showed a liking for the SNP but a dislike for the idea of another referendum. Since then support for the SNP in terms of numbers vying for independence has been high. But it is not so high that the case for constitutional change has been made. If she wants to highlight the “democratic deficit”, she still has a lot of work to do getting that support up.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

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Poll whitewash

There was a certain symmetry about the eight candidates shortlisted for the Conservative leadership first ballot, the start of a reality TV-style knockout competition. Four were women, four men. Two of each from ethnic minority backgrounds despite 94 per cent of Conservative MPs being white. A final contest of a competent Rishi Sunak and confident Penny Mordaunt, who has parachuted herself ahead of Liz Truss and is now favourite amongst members (Scotsman, 14 July). This leaves a man and a women, one white and one from an ethnic minority background.

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All this political correctness from a party, shown by its Rwanda policy, that wants to reduce and deter those coming from overseas. The members, about 0.3 per cent of the population, overwhelmingly anti-immigration Brexit voters, may struggle to vote for a first PM from an ethnic minority background. Mr Sunak, however, has the “drama free” unifying credentials and proven experience of high office, having successfully protected millions of jobs through Covid. He is also the only candidate with a credible economic plan to navigate through the cost of living crisis. Ms Mordaunt may well be “the best prepared candidate”, as she claims, but why did she, unlike Mr Sunak, show steely loyalty to a PM who was not trusted by three quarters of the electorate? Maybe it’s because the overwhelmingly wealthy white membership who voted Johnson in will reward loyalty over what Sajid Javid inferred was complicity.

If Ms Mordaunt wins then it will be more about protecting traditional Conservative values, and her combative rhetoric such as “smashing the yellow wall” in Scotland than about levelling up and celebrating diversity, giving everyone the chance to succeed. Expect a cabinet of near equal gender and ethnicity to cover up its inadequacies.

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Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Spot-on!

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Interesting comments from Kenny MacAskill on the Tory leadership contest (Perspective, 14 July), when he accuses them of holding a Dutch auction on who can promise the most tax cuts, when there is no explanation as to how they can be funded. His comments pretty well sum up the nationalist position on independence, ie, little explanation as to how it can be funded!

William Ballantine

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Bo'ness, West Lothian

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