Readers' Letters: Republican stance would hurt SNP’s dream
Does the change of status of Barbados to a republic have any implications for the independence debate in Scotland? Laura Waddell sounded an optimistic note for the future of the Caribbean island (Perspective, 2 December). It should be pointed out that it remains a member of the Commonwealth, which retains the non-elected British monarch as its head.
Indeed, Scotland as an independent country would do the same, certainly under the plans that were outlined in the White paper, Scotland's Future, which provided the prospectus for the Yes side in 2014. If that side had won, and the subsequent negotiations were successful, Scotland would have the equivalent of Dominion status within the Commonwealth, similar to the position of Australia, Canada and New Zealand throughout the 20th century. None of these countries have changed their status to that of a republic.
In my view there is little chance of the independence case being accepted in Scotland if it becomes linked to a strong republican stance. Sentiments of support north of the Border for the Queen and her possible successors may be irrational but it is real. Laura Waddell highlights a quandary that might inform debate about the case for autonomy. Is Scotland a nation that has been exploited by a semi-colonial power in Westminster; or has it itself been at the forefront of colonial exploitation over the centuries? Whatever stance people support, I doubt if the majority would favour a republican future. Constitutional monarchies need to be held to account by their parliaments. But they have allowed many more advances in democracy and civil liberties than many of their detractors would care to admit.
Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife
The recent poll giving independence a (small) majority support plus Barbados becoming a republic will probably have excited the Yes voters. However, as one swallow does not a summer make and since the Barbadian administration ignored several requests to first hold a referendum on the matter, presumably learning from Brexit and a failed indyref, I hope that Westminster will refuse a similar, unauthorised, power grab by Holyrood.
Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian
A Scottish Government census intended for circulation in schools that asks children sexually explicit questions is thankfully being resisted by many councils, but the attempt should ring alarm bells for the people of Scotland.
The census questions, no doubt approved by our government which increasingly seems to want to take further control of our lives through independence, wants to highlight and suggest to eight-year-olds the apparent normality of sexual activity at this age: not innocent exploring, but potentially illegal activities.
Our politicians are now revealing their hidden agenda: take control of the mindset of our children, leaving parents excluded; manipulate the curriculum to include woke ideology, at the expense of the Three Rs, thus leaving a future generation less capable of determining their own future; manipulate the social structure by increasing benefits for all – not just those in need – thus engendering a culture of dependence and passing the buck.
Opposition parties seem incapable of asking searching questions and challenging these potentially destructive changes to our society. They would apparently rather indulge in scoring points and promoting their own advancement. The churches seem to have been paralysed and cowed into submission, no doubt fearing accusations of bias, but thus emasculating the Gospel message of “Kingdom and hope” to one of empire and despair.
James Watson, Dunbar, East Lothian
Oil for nothing
Nicola Sturgeon's opposition to the Cambo oil field development has important consequences. Right now, Scotland is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Making Scotland carbon neutral is desirable – but not at any cost. Ms Sturgeon's desire to please her Green colleagues has placed Scotland's population in real danger of having an inadequate or unaffordable supply of fossil fuels until a more reasonable form of energy, particularly for heating homes, is found. Heat pumps are not the answer.
Given the warning that a loss of electric power leaves us very vulnerable to the elements, as demonstrated by the recent storm destruction, alternatives must be available. In one utterance over Cambo Nicola Sturgeon has set Scotland on a path into the unknown. Whatever happened to the good old adage of “look before you leap?”
Gerald Edwards, Glasgow
Most of your doomsday scenario renewable energy correspondents focus on the intermittent energy sources of wind and solar power. They omit to mention that the solution is a technological problem of energy storage. Before the days of battery-operated watches, we used to store the energy by winding the watch each day and turning an egg-timer upside down. A grandfather clock's energy was stored by raising two weights which subsequently powered the clock. On 11 March this year The Scotsman published an article about a Leith based company, Gravitricity, which has set up a 15m tower at Forth Port’s Prince Albert Dock. Energy is stored by raising a heavy weight and later releasing it, thus creating an energy storage system which powers a 250kW system. Using this system, renewable energy could be stored when the wind blows without the need to export the excess energy produced in order to later import energy when there is no wind.
At the entrance to Kirkwall harbour in Orkney there used to be a mill which was powered by tidal movements, which I believe were then as regular as they are now. Today the Orkney Renewable Energy Forum reports on research into a plethora of renewable energy sources which are not reliant on intermittent sources of energy.
The National Grid can see us through short term deficiencies in energy production and storage, but, in the medium to long term the Grid should become redundant.
(Dr) Francis Roberts, Edinburgh
Katrine Bussey’s article (2 December) on support by two MSPs (Labour and Conservative) for funding for air purifiers in all Scottish classrooms unfortunately did not detail both the cost and the problem to be solved. Quality air purifiers can cost around £900 each and a further £125 for replacement filters, so two units per classroom equates to £1.8 million per 1,000 classrooms!
The government’s own data show clearly that Covid is simply not a health issue for children. What children need is to be in school receiving education.
Alastair McCulloch, Dunblane
Flight of fancy
Bored? Let's try a wee experiment. In the time of Covid, assemble in close proximity many thousands of unmasked and untested strangers from every country on the planet, all expenses paid, at an event we will call the Cromino Convention in a town... for argument’s sake, let’s say Glasgow. Encourage these same people to mix, discuss various subjects on a daily basis, socialise, dine out in fine bistros – for after all, it is a jolly – for a period of, say, ten days.
At the end of this period disperse these same hordes to the four corners of the earth. Now sit back for two or three weeks and keep a close look out for any interesting or unusual developments worldwide. What could possibly go wrong?
David O'Hara, Scotstoun, Glasgow
In his attempt to portray SNP failings, Colin Hamilton doesn’t tell the whole story regarding government support for the aluminium smelter at Lochaber (Letters, 3 December). The Scottish Government’s guarantee is backed up by security over the smelter, a hydro power station and extensive land holdings. The so called secret deal was approved by the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party finance committee in 2016 and saved 160 jobs, a figure which has increased to over 200.
Plans to make alloy wheels failed to materialise partly due to Covid supressing the demand for new cars but thanks to the high price for metals the smelter is running profitably and they hope to recycle aluminium at the site, producing 80,000 tonnes a year for the construction industry.
The SNP also saved the two threatened steel plants at Dalzell and Clydebridge in Lanarkshire while UK taxpayers are exposed to more than £1 billion of debt via three UK Government guarantees to the same Sanjeev Gupta and his parent company that was the only buyer of the UK’s loss-making steel plants.
Fraser Grant, Edinburgh
An integrated new town of 7000 dwellings West of Edinburgh, a so-called 20-minute town, is an ideal that cannot be realised (your report, 1 December). The pattern of employment means that the bulk of the residents will commute, and the majority of those by car. We will simply have created a new commuter suburb increasing the overloading of the A8/Gogarburn roundabout approach to Edinburgh.
Further, the concentration of inward transport links, road, rail and air around Edinburgh Airport is far too valuable to be wasted on housing. This area should be reserved for extensive high density commercial use. This concentration would provide economic justification for the provision of high quality public transport, reducing inward car commuting to the Edinburgh built-up area. To do otherwise is the antithesis of town planning.
David Hogg, Edinburgh
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