Readers Letters: Scotland should latch on to Nordic neighbours

The Nordic Council formed in 1952 currently comprises Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and the Aland Islands. The main purpose is to facilitate agreement to manage shared interests.

Should Scotland sail to the land of Noggin the Nog?
Should Scotland sail to the land of Noggin the Nog?

The United Kingdom, of which Scotland is currently a part, a very junior and subservient part, has left the European Union, against the declared wish and votes of the Scottish people. I propose Scotland liaise with the Copenhagen-based Nordic Council and initially seek observer status to promote Scottish interests. Since 2016, Schleswig-Holstein, part of the German Republic, has had this status, so why not Scotland?

Why should Scotland not be a part of this wider world community? Just look at a map. Scotland is geographically part of the Nordic group. It’s nearer to the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway and Denmark than London.

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It follows that I would like to see Scotland open an office in Brussels, Copenhagen, and maintain and expand contacts with our European friends, partners and allies, with an equivalent EU and Nordic Council presence in Scotland.

Let’s face it: crashing out of the EU with whatever Prime Minister Boris Johnson declares will not be good for Scotland, especially as we are being dragged out against the will of the Scottish people. We lose our freedom to travel and explore our continent of Europe without hindrance and with the security of accessing free health care should it be required. This will impact on ordinary citizens.

So, Scotland’s government should declare itself willing to forge alliances. Why not start with courting the Nordic Council of nations? We have much to offer and much to gain. What’s not to like?

Michael Clarke, Hillside Crescent, Langholm

Brave words

As is so often the case with Freedom propagandists, Mary Thomas tells only half the story. (Letters, 5 January).

Were the Republic of Scotland to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), there would indeed be reduced red tape for the 19 per cent of Scottish exports which go to the EU. However, the 60 per cent sold to rUK would be subject to the very Brexit deal bureaucracy Ms Thomas rails against. As for the remainder, (destined for more distant markets), Indy Scotland would not benefit from any trade deals which Britain might strike with the wider world.

And what about the transport implications for Scottish goods heading southwards across a hard border to English ports en route to continental markets?

Ms Thomas quotes the Growth Commission's grandiose proclamation that an independent Scotland "should explicitly reject the austerity model pursued by the UK". Combine the financial consequences of the above conditions with our frightening structural deficit, and these fine words might prove tricky to implement in practice. However, the Bravehearts will doubtless say it is a small price to pay for the achievement of their precious "F" word.

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Martin O'Gorman, Littlejohn Road, Edinburgh

Give us figures

The lockdown and roll-out of the coronavirus vaccine across the UK has brought a glimmer of hope to the population that the pandemic might ultimately be countered and that life can somehow return to some sort of normality.

The vaccine “silver bullet” needs to be offered to as many people as the supply will allow in the shortest period of time and Boris Johnson's commitment, hopefully kept, to give up to date daily figures on the numbers of vaccinations carried out should give people hope and lift spirits. It will also allow an assessment of how the operation is working. Why is Nicola Sturgeon not making a similar promise? We have already seen how test and trace figures were manipulated to show a rosier picture than actually existed and the same must not be allowed to happen to the vaccination scheme.

Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Pray for sense

What part of "daily confirmed cases exceeding 60,000 in UK for first time since the pandemic began" do Scotland's whining bishops not get? Are they so desperate for collection plate bawbees as to think so little of risking the lives of their dwindling flocks with their appalling demands to the First Minister to lift the lockdown on places of worship?

Our dreich climate has long favoured such respiratory ailments. As Butler and Hogg noted in their 2007 paper to the Royal College of Physicians exploring Scotland’s influenza pandemic of 1918–19, the British phase started in Glasgow and took 70,000 Scots to an early grave – and an extra thousand of the survivors thereafter from encephalitis lethargica..But the official figures only stated that 22 000 “could be attributed” and archives show the Scottish media of the period was remarkably silent on such a virulent killer: almost as if a tacit coalition of the Establishment wanted to ensure that the Great Unwashed went back to making them money.It seems that Scotland's clerics have learned little since the days the great George MacLeod thundered from his Govan pulpit that if Christian churches turned blind eyes to their flock's sufferings, they'd soon turn deaf ears to them.

Mark Boyle, Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

An appeal

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I would like to give strong support to Scotland’s Catholic Bishops’ opinion that it is unfair to close all the places of worship in mainland Scotland in this second lockdown. The Muslim community takes great satisfaction in combined service on a daily basis. Closing the places of worship, including Mosques, is against human rights. We are maintaining, distance, masking and limiting numbers strongly.

There is no reason for the complete shutdown of places of worship. A religious-minded person in the Borders area of Scotland is denied worship while across the Border, a few miles down, a person can go to pray and obtain spiritual satisfaction. It is usual in this country that it is older people who attend the churches and mosques, who will get some exercise by going to places of worship on daily basis. On behalf of Muslims of Scotland I appeal to our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to reconsider her decision about places of worship.

Hasan Beg, Harcourt Road, Kirkcaldy

Spiritual guidance

In an indignant reaction to the need to lockdown church gatherings, Catholic Bishops have cited what they describe as “the essential contribution of public worship to the spiritual welfare of all citizens.”

“All” citizens or just a religious subgroup?

Cinema and theatre goers, pub customers, sewing circles, gym users: all could make similar claims to their activities bringing “spiritual, social and psychological benefits.”

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh

Improper Charlie

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Although, to your credit, Alison Campsie's piece ("New image of Bonnie Prince Charlie acquired", 5 January) refers to the Young Pretender throughout by his proper name and title – Prince Charles Edward Stuart – your bigger and bolder headline perpetuates the dumbed down and, sadly, universally popular “Bonnie Prince Charlie”.

“Bonnie” is fine for lassies and babies, but I have always understood that "Charlie" is an Anglophone corruption of the Gaelic "Tearlach", and is too close for comfort to the still common term for a fool as "a proper Charlie".

We should show more respect to Prince Charles Edward Stuart – Prions Tearlach – a brave man who tried, but failed, to win his birthright back from German interlopers. Shortbread tins, tea towels and tartan gonks (all unlikely to be made in Scotland) may always be with us, but the infantilising of "our rightful King" does us no honour.

David Roche, Hill House, Coupar Angus, Perthshire

Pingu too?

I was amused, but more incredulous, reading your article “Walk like a penguin” (January 5). More effective in avoiding a trip to the Accident and Emergency department is for householders if able to get out and clear the pavements outside their own homes. Word of mouth spread in our street and it worked… safety under foot, but elsewhere you need snow grips on your boots to cope with dangerous iced pavements.

Show that community spirit and start scraping and salting. You will feel better for it – and so will your local hospital emergency department

Gillian Cornelius, Glendevon Place, Edinburgh

Fossil alarm

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Richard Dixon celebrates that Denmark has decided to phase out fossil fuel production, but doesn't mention that it's not for another 30 years (Environment, 5 January 5).

Denmark likes wind turbines. But how does Mr Dixon propose the raw materials needed for them are extracted from the ground without diesel-powered machinery? How will these materials be transported across the seas without oil-powered ships? How will the necessary steel be produced without using coking coal? How will turbine blades be made without fossil fuel products? How will finished turbine parts and transmission cables be transported and erected without diesel-powered trucks and cranes?

Geoff Moore, Braeface Park, Alness

Tee for who?

As an exile living just south of the Border, I always take a keen interest in Nicola Sturgeon’s messages. I note that, unlike in England, in the present lockdown two people can play golf together in Scotland under the umbrella of the exercise regime.

It's enough to make frustrated golfers on this side of the Border run the risk of police patrols or, failing that, seek solace in the availability of the cheap cider etc that is free of alcohol unit pricing.

John Rhind, Meadow Lane, Beadnell, Northumberland

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