Readers' Letters: It’s wrong to write off Scottish independence
To date Scottish unionist parties have refused to publish membership figures, perhaps due to embarrassment. Furthermore, it is believed that the small Alba independence party has more members that the Scottish Tory party!
Independence is not on the “back-burner” and indeed, it's inevitable for Scotland to progress and flourish. This will develop Scotland’s massive renewable potential, including off-shore wind, hydrogen and low-carbon heat energy sectors, keeping Scotland as a frontrunner in Europe and the world.
Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland
Not all bad
The fact that the comments expressed in my letter of 6 May have been misrepresented betray the fears logically arising as the shortcomings of the monarchy, the Union and democracy within the UK are increasingly exposed as primarily representing the selfish interests of the British Establishment, not the fundamental interests of the general public.
A McCormick (Letters, 9 May) questions why I choose to live in “such a vile place” (his words, not mine) as the UK, but after living and working in England and many countries overseas the reason I decided, with my family, to return to my home country of Scotland was a recognition of many positive aspects of growing-up in Scotland and a developing belief that Scotland could do better for its citizens as an independent country. From at one time defending the first-past-the post UK electoral system, and even arguing that a country like Australia was not ready to become a republic, my views on the constitutional arrangements of the UK have moved on, perhaps due to having a perspective shaped by those outside of the UK looking at Britain more objectively.
Contrary to the accusation of William Ballantine that I have “nothing positive to say about Britain at all”, the NHS for all its faults (as regularly highlighted by BBC Scotland) is rightly praised and education in Scotland continues to be lauded for the holistic approach evidenced by Curriculum for Excellence.
Certainly significant challenges remain both in health and education, but as the disparity in wealth between rich and poor in the UK continues to widen, the UK’s standing in Europe and beyond declines and UK democracy fails, it is time for Scotland to determine its own destiny.
With a majority of independence-supporting MPs at Westminster and a majority of MSPs supporting independence at Holyrood, it is democratically unacceptable that the government at Holyrood is prevented by the government at Westminster from consulting the population of Scotland via an independence referendum. Whatever the outcome of the next General Election, hopefully the Labour Party will find its soul and support the right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future.
Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian
Back to the books
One would assume that a historian would not make a major historical mistake (“Why monarchs do not need to be crowned in Scotland”, 6 May).
However, Alastair Raffe unaccountably claimed that the “United Kingdom” was created in 1707. Surely he knows that the Treaty of Union in 1707 created “Great Britain” (GB), meaning “greater Britain”, and that the UK was not created until 1800, when GB was joined to the Kingdom of Ireland. It is to the latter two kingdoms that the “Union” refers.
Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh
Leah Gunn Barrett ignores the extremely fraught nature of international relations in Europe in the 1690s in her letter (9 May).In 1690, for example, King William (Billy), who was king of both England and Scotland (and who was Dutch too, as an added complication) had already had to fight a Jacobite army in Ireland at the Battle of the Boyne.
His government in England was acutely aware of the fact that the Darien Scheme was provoking Spain by landing on and occupying Spanish territory in Central America, which could have caused war to break out due to the extraordinary lack of insight by Scotland’s empire builders (let’s not mention the Empire)!
The expedition was equipped with completely useless trading goods such as bibles for local people who couldn’t read and weren’t Christian and tweed for a population living in equatorial temperatures!
Scotland’s provocative move in settling in Darien came at a time when England was vying with France and Spain over who would become the next Spanish monarch. If Ms Barrett objects to England’s position, then she must equally object to Britain occupying Iceland at the beginning of the Second World War to prevent Germany from taking it over – or would she rather that the Nazis had been allowed in?
The EU is behaving in just the same high-handed way towards the UK right now. That’s realpolitik.
Exactly the same circumstances applied to Scotland vis-a-vis England in 1707. Also, the armed forces moving towards Scotland were moving at the request of the Scottish Government, in case of unrest over the Union, she should note.
Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh
Oil to play for
Ireland has just announced that it will establish a sovereign wealth fund – using their currently huge budget surpluses which are forecast to rise to over £16 billion next year.
In this way, Ireland will follow the example of Australia – another former British colony – and Norway, who have used oil revenues and other windfall wealth to build and renew their infrastructures and ensure their future national needs against more difficult economic circumstances.
Scotland – 50 years after North Sea oil revenues began flowing to Norway and, in Scotland’s case, to Westminster and the corrupt, hedge-fund, oligarch-ridden City of London – has no hope of a sovereign wealth fund.
Instead, we have endured 20 years of UK austerity and deliberate poverty directed by Westminster (Labour and Tory) – policies openly and repeatedly condemned by the United Nations. Other horror lies in the creaking UK rail infrastructure (Network Rail) and – in England’s case – advanced privatisation (and consequent collapse) of the NHS and water services in particular.
The oil revenues which cushioned Norway throughout Covid, allowing that nation to lead economic and medical support to other countries throughout the pandemic, are still building their strategic sovereign wealth fund. No wonder Ireland has decided to use its current wealth from hi-tech foreign investment to do the same.
Meanwhile, as the asset-stripping continues in Scotland – rich in oil and sustainable energy sources, a world leader in many hi-tech industries, especially EU supported research into wave, tidal and green hydrogen, with a massive surplus in food and drink exports – such revenues are still feeding the rotten, gaping maws of Westminster and the City of London, otherwise known as the world money laundering centre.
Therefore, while Ireland is to be congratulated on such enviable prosperity and strategic planning, this week’s news is surely also painful and galling, as Scotland considers what might have been.
That is, until and unless we are inspired, at last, to follow her example of independence.
Frances McKie, Evanton, Ross-shire
Humans living in the 21st century have the same psychological needs as those who lived in the 1st century, and much earlier, going right back to the evolution of our species around 3 million years ago. Early humans lived in small groups, sharing their knowledge and skills for the benefit of each and every member of the group.
The word “leader” didn’t enter the English language until around the year 1300, and, since then, there have been hundreds of different ways to define leadership, but no single, definitive meaning.
The term “king” is of Old English origin, from the word “cyning”, which originally meant “tribal leader”. My computer wouldn’t accept the word at first try, since it’s a “child” of the 21st century. The new King Charles didn’t look particularly happy about his new status during the Coronation. And who could blame him? He’s no spring chicken, and he had to say goodbye to his mother, the late Queen, before going through the ancient ceremony. He now knew the meaning of Shakespeare’s words, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. I wish him well in his new role.
Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry, Dundee
Your correspondent Jim Sillars scores a bullseye with his comments upon the calibre of Lorna Slater and Kezia Dugdale in relation to their spoutings in denial of the suppression of Joanna Cherry's right of free speech with the cancellation of her fringe show “In conversation” by The Stand (Letters, 8 May). Only shows supporting their opinions can be performed, it seems. The value of professorships and holding political office as an MSP has been debased. We live in worrying times.
I have never been a supporter of Mr Sillars or his political aspirations but he has, unlike others, conducted himself with dignity, integrity and the ability to use his intellect impartially.
Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh
How would Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh, commenting on the Buckingham Palace balcony scene on Saturday as “terribly white”, react if a similar event in, say Nigeria, were described as "terribly black"? A textbook example of double standards, I think.
Steve Hayes, Leven, Fife
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