Readers' Letters: OK SNP, let's make general election an independence vote

SNP leader John Swinney says an SNP majority in Scottish seats at Westminster would mandate negotiating for a referendum (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)SNP leader John Swinney says an SNP majority in Scottish seats at Westminster would mandate negotiating for a referendum (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)
SNP leader John Swinney says an SNP majority in Scottish seats at Westminster would mandate negotiating for a referendum (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)
First Minister John Swinney’s latest thoughts on Independence caused a stir among readers

I do have some sympathy with the SNP view that the coming election could be a quasi-referendum on Independence.

For it to be so it would require it to be seen that voters only voted for the SNP if they wanted independence. In a normal election this would be an absurd notion, but why would you vote for them on any other premise: Economy – trashed, Health Service – trashed, Education – trashed, Law and Order – trashed, Net Zero – a total failure, Rural Economy – trashed (albeit by a couple of Greens dangling Nicola Sturgeon like some scary children’s puppet on the end of a string).

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However, if we accept the SNP view, they must also accept that after two defeats on the subject it should be put to one side for a generation so future Scottish Governments can concentrate their time and money on matters that really matter to those that elect them.

Mark Tennant, Elgin, Moray

Get a grip

Poor John Swinney – I suppose he's trying his best, but really, get a grip, man! In the SNP manifesto he insists that if the SNP wins more than half the Scottish seats on 4 July (that is, 29), then he has a mandate to commence independence negotiations with Westminster. So he’s actually suggesting that if he loses 19 seats (the SNP won 48 seats in 2019), he's in a position of strength! In 2019 his party received 45 per cent of the vote, so obviously under half anyway, so presumably 29 seats would translate into perhaps 35 per cent voting SNP.

It's hardly a convincing majority in support of leaving the UK, even assuming a couple of per cent vote for other breakaway parties. And why would a new government (presumably Labour) begin independence negotiations when, say, 35 per cent of us have voted for the SNP on a maybe 60 per cent turnout? If Labour did so it'd be an insult to democracy! Back to the drawing board, John?

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire

Same old Swinney

So now we know John Swinney is no different to the SNP’s previous leaders. His obsession with the Independence issue and the idea that all Scotland’s woes are due to the nasty English across the Border unfortunately echoes his predecessors’ rhetoric. I had hoped he would change the record and instead deal with the everyday issues that concern his fellow countrymen and women as his priority.

However, he might have a cunning ploy in that if he continues with his poisonous comments about his nearest neighbours, they will eventually wish to rid themselves of Scotland so both countries are satisfied with the outcome? I always knew Scots were clever.

Jim Bell, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford

Wagers of sin?

Another day, another Tory scandal. With an increasing number of Conservatives being accused of having had a bet on the date of the general election, may I suggest that if any others are considering a flutter they go for a Lucky 63?

According to the polls this is roughly the number of seats they might win.If they’re lucky.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

Time to modernise

It's the same old politics, time after time. Nobody has put forward a radical vision for the future beyond the next election and gaining power. Very short sighted and a bit like genteel but petty gang warfare. Someone said, or words to that effect, that we have Neanderthal emotions, medieval institutions and god-like technology.

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Medieval institutions is right. Is it not time to dispense with the Monarchy with all its attendant pomp, pageantry, privilege and patronage? I find the whole ermine-encrusted, Black Rod nonsense of the State Opening of Parliament, Coronations etc quite abhorrent. I always make a point of going fishing.

It is time to establish a constitutional assembly/conference to consider substantial modernisation of both Houses of Parliament and make them fit for purpose and for the 21st century.

Torquil MacLeod, Drumnadrochit, Inverness

Misplaced outrage

I was sorry to read the Perspective article by Kate Copstick (19 June), because she gave such a selective view of religion in Kenya. I once lived in the village of Thogoto where she had, I'm glad to read, a positive day out, seeing the good work done by the charity she founded. What sparked her outrage, apparently, was that women helped to escape abuse told her that God would bless her for the work she did, though like any right-thinking person she hates the hokum of religious charlatans.

Unfortunately your headline, “In Thogoto Christianity offers false hope to 'sinful' women”, presents that hokum as if that was what Christianity in Thogoto and in Kenya in general was about. The great majority of churches in Kenya are as committed to social and personal betterment as are churches in this country – with the difference that after Kenya became independent, Christianity thrived. It is good that it was mentioned that 85 per cent of the population is Christian, and no doubt will continue to bless anyone who works on behalf of women in hard situations.

Quite apart from independence, the reason Christianity thrived was that it offered a loving God. Ms Copstick gave us a romantic view of traditional African religion, saying that people had a more direct relationship with God because he frequently stayed at the top of a nearby mountain. In fact it was a very distant relationship the Kikuyu had with Ngai, the high God who was linked with the top of Mount Kenya which was far off and hard to climb. There is a Kikuyu saying, “God is not to be pestered” (Ngai ndigĩagĩagwo). While an atheist may be irritated by Ms Copstick’s clients' familiarity with God, the least she could do would be to keep silent, rather than mock.

(Dr) Jock Stein, Haddington, East Lothian

Tax breaks

As Alan Gall says in his letter of 20 June, tax avoidance is legal. As a learned judge put it many decades ago, “No man is obliged to so order his affairs as to allow the Revenue to put their biggest shovel into his store”. One might say that tax avoidance is using the words of legislation to frustrate its purpose.

A law giving HMRC the power to designate any particular financial arrangements a scheme to avoid tax and therefore a nullity would simplify the Revenue’s task but would be widely resisted as giving the executive too much discretion.

The Treasury often tries to use fiscal measures as a way to support other aims of government – for instance, charitable status. In particular, it has sought to encourage investment in enterprises it wishes to support and this has proved fertile ground for avoidance schemes – eg in forestry and film production in the UK.

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If the incoming government is serious about tackling tax avoidance, the implications for it should be a more important factor in considering future financial arrangements.

S Beck, Edinburgh

Big deal

Perhaps I am the only one, but I can't get my head around the euphoria of the recent announcement of the inflation rate coming down to 2 per cent. The same day I heard this I received notification that my car insurance (no claims) had increased by 40 per cent. No doubt I can only dream that my forthcoming property insurance will increase by 2 per cent. Seems Mark Twain was right when he said “there are lies, damned lies and statistics”?!

Brian Petrie, Edinburgh

Alien thoughts

If we ever needed evidence that humans are not a peaceful species, Rodolfo Delgado, a tech pioneer in New York City, and an artificial intelligence enthusiast, has recently created a list of current global conflicts around the world. There are 13 ongoing conflicts, though he says that the situation might change rapidly.

If any extraterrestrial life-forms did their homework, and found out how aggressive Homo Sapiens can be, I doubt that they’d want to meet us. Unless they were even more warlike than us, though I’d like to think that they would be more peaceful, and could teach us how to behave like civilised beings.

Most other species do their best to avoid aggressive encounters, which is a sensible stance to take since, unlike humans, they have to heal their wounds themselves. If we had to literally “lick our wounds”, instead of relying on the medical profession to heal them, we might be more hesitant when someone tried to provoke us into engaging in physical combat.

Let’s hope that we can learn to live in peace with our fellow humans. If we fail to do so, there will be no winners, only more graves filled with the victims of war, taking up space on our once unspoiled, beautiful planet.

Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Raising roof

Earlier this month, Edinburgh’s St James Quarter’s W hotel with its signature “walnut whip” roof element was put up for sale by its owners, Nuveen, along with 25 per cent of the attached shopping mall.

A day later, the same hotel appeared on the shortlist of the Carbuncle Cup, where its signature feature was picked out “as an imaginative catheter failure”.

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Indeed, many people have wondered how no one in the design process saw the clarity of the metaphor when the design was first proposed.

Given that the W hotel was beaten in the end by Liverpool's Lime Street redevelopment, was Nuveen's disposal decision a sign of belated foresight?

Harald Tobermann, Edinburgh

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