Readers' Letters: Scotland might be better run if it actually was a colony

Pol Yates complains about the results of the 2014 independence referendum and the 2016 Brexit referendum (Letters, 23 May). But both were examples of democracy.
The Saltire of Scotland and St George's Cross of England stand side by side (Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)The Saltire of Scotland and St George's Cross of England stand side by side (Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
The Saltire of Scotland and St George's Cross of England stand side by side (Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

So is the fact that the representation of the Scottish population at Westminster mirrors its size. As for Scotland being a “colony” of England, such a ridiculous designation flies in the face of the facts. Read the Treaty of Union. Scotland can propose holding jury-free trials in rape cases, fail to build ferries, set up its own Covid rules, or cut funding to its universities and colleges without let or hindrance from Westminster.

And I write with personal experience about benefits; after proposing improved food safety rules after the 1996 central Scotland E.coli outbreak (one of the most lethal ever, caused by an organism which has been more common in Scotland than anywhere else in the world) they were passed by Westminster without opposition, despite official bodies in England being unhappy about being told what to do by the Scots.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Too dim to vote?

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Reader Doug Clark repeats the suggestion that we may be becoming disillusioned with democracy (Letters, 23 May). Well, if true, then that may well be because we don’t have a democracy, certainly not the version practised by its Athenian originators. Those gentlemen, and they were all men, limited (and given today’s experience, many of us would say wisely) the vote to those with a real and well-informed stake in the future wellbeing of their community.

On that basis, non-indigenous Athenians, youths, slaves and women were excluded. Their city state prospered. Perhaps today we would not be quite so restrictive, but surely there is merit in restricting democracy to the well informed? By that means several of the ills noted by Mr Clark would be rectified – although I hope that the BBC’s Thought for the Day would survive as its wide range of speakers often raise important issues.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Take back control

Due to laissez faire governance by Westminster, or should that be “Wasteminster”, unused electricity generated by Scottish renewables cannot be stored for later use, as failure to fund development of energy storage – such as pumped-energy storage – means this “free”, green electricity is wasted. Two other useful techniques for this excess electricity are green hydrogen production and storage by battery.

Specifically, wind farms are being paid hundreds of millions in “curtailment” costs – £299m in 2020 and £507m in 2021, which is added to UK energy bills – to lock their wind turbines, because our National Grid has not been upgraded to handle all the renewable electricity Scotland can generate.

A recent BBC broadcast gave the impression that the Coire Glas-pumped hydro storage was being actively pursued by the UK Government (UKG), whereas Conservative MSPs show a lack of awareness of the UKG inaction on this project.

In response to your editorial (22 May), as long as Scotland is constrained by Westminster to operate a “pocket-money parliament”, unable to borrow and forced to go “cap-in-hand” to develop our green, low-cost renewables (and other schemes), we will continue to be at the mercy of this dysfunctional UKG which does not govern in Scotland’s best interests. Like Brexit, we need to take back control to be able, for example, to decouple the UKG price of our low-cost electricity from the global price of gas and put an end to our UKG-manufactured cost-of-energy crisis.

More worryingly for Scotland is UKG spending billions of pounds on submarine interconnector links with Norway to supply the North of England, and Denmark to supply Lincolnshire, which are being tracked by Russian spy ships.

D W Lowden, Mannofield, Aberdeen

It’s all wrong

A man destroyed, struck off as a teacher, for using the “wrong” pronouns. It happened in England but could so easily have happened here. It should be rectified by a court ruling the decision to be Wednesbury unreasonable (ie so unreasonable that no tribunal properly instructed could have made it).

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Of course, the judiciary, like the teaching profession, is now packed with the disciples of the Marxist cultural revolution which Tony Blair started. And if the judge is not sympathetic to this takeover, the wrong decision will destroy their career as surely as Keir Starmer will soon be in No. 10.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

Past time to go

The saga of Margaret Ferrier MP rolls on. Given the fact that she was disowned by her former SNP leader, was sentenced for blatantly breaching Covid rules and has received a 30-day suspension from the Commons, I find it unbelievable that she is still collecting her MP’s salary.

To maintain her self-respect she should have thrown the towel in long ago, but by not doing so has surely indicated that the legal framework for removing an errant politician is not rigorous enough. It’s little wonder that the electorate are losing respect for those who are supposed to represent them.

Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Speak softly

We were deeply disappointed in the language used in Cameron Wyllie’s recent piece on “badly behaved, aggressive pupils” in Scotland’s schools (Perspective, 18 May). Teachers absolutely have a right to a safe working environment, children and young people themselves, of course, have the right to expect a safe learning environment. The solutions to this problem are, however, further reaching than those suggested by Mr Wylie.

While we do not have the space here to detail what a rights-based response to the issues raised would look like, we wanted to take the time to respond to Mr Wyllie’s framing of the issue. Use of language such as “deranged children” and “wee thugs” does little beyond stigmatise the young people involved and validate draconian attitudes towards children and young people.

Furthermore, it is damaging to place any child into a Bad versus Good definition where types of behaviour are pitted against each other rather than exploring the root causes.

The article also does nothing to promote solutions to a complex problem and does a disservice to the complexity of the challenges facing many children, young people and families today. This type of fallacious, slippery slope, argumentation does nothing more than appeal to the emotions of those in agreement and blinker the reader towards a polarised view of what is good and what is bad.

We would strongly encourage Mr Wyllie and the editorial staff within The Scotsman to consider their portrayal of distressed young people and avoid stigmatising them further in future.

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Billy Anderson, Head of Services, Children in Scotland, Edinburgh

A happy NHS

Amidst opposition calls and criticism of the latest A&E waiting times figures, there is much to be positive about in our NHS.

NHS staff in Scotland are the highest paid in the UK, something we should be proud of, and a clear recognition of the enormous contribution NHS staff make to our daily lives. The unfortunate A&E figures will continue to be a challenge as from day to day, no one knows the extent of demand on this service. However, as opposition parties continue to condemn and castigate, the question arises: how would they tackle the challenge?

A look over the Border to England, where the NHS is run by the Conservatives and is becoming more privatised by the day, does not fill with me confidence that Conservative politicians in Scotland have the answer.

But then I look even further south to Wales, where the NHS is run by the Labour Party, and has not had its troubles to seek. Opposition parties here in Scotland, running the NHS in other parts of the UK, are facing major challenges and issues – amazing considering their criticism of the NHS here in Scotland.

The A&E figures will continue to be a challenge as they are set at a very high standard, rightly so, it is always good to aim higher, but we must be realistic.

Catriona C Clark, Banknock, Falkirk

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