The Greens' assumption that huge expenditure on public transport will result in a large increase in use of this and reduction in energy use is baseless. It will nearly always be much faster cheaper and more convenient to use a car. Going by bus or train requires getting to and from bus stops and/or stations. When one has children and/or luggage this is especially true. Many trips just cannot realistically be made by bus or train at any time.
Buses operate economically in places where there are high population densities with many living in flats. Yet most people reside in houses in suburbs where roads are deliberately designed to make it hard for motor vehicles to move easily and quickly. Many do not have a bus stop within easy walking distance. Even if so, walking in the dark and/or rain and waiting at stops is not an attractive option for most.
The Greens want a huge sum of public money be spent on restoring branch railways, not realising that these were built to carry mainly freight, which generated most of their revenue. Trains on these now would serve only a tiny number of people and need to be subsidised by people who would not use them.
Over the last 60 years throughout the world countless passenger train routes have been closed. Mexico, with a larger population than the UK, now has none. In New Zealand the only ones are three per week between the two largest cities. In Canada, Calgary – a rich city with over a million people and once a railway hub – has no passenger trains. The same applies to many other places in North America, Africa and Australia. Despite a trebling of population in the latter, no new passenger lines have been built in the latter since the 1800s and most existing ones have been closed. That the Greens apparently know nothing of the above is astounding. They are not a serious party and including them in the Scottish Government is irresponsible and undemocratic.
John Munro, Glasgow
Bile is democratic
It says much about the state of our politics that the allegations of abuse brought into focus by the BBC's Sarah Smith have been instantly weaponised by unionist politicians from the Scottish Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to condemn "nationalism”.
It's apparent from many a newspaper headline and the Twitter accounts of opposition MSPs and their parties that the bile, hatred and misogyny called out by Sarah Smith is also meted out on a daily basis to Nicola Sturgeon and Kate Forbes, who thankfully appear to have a much thicker skin than journalists.
In a healthier political climate, opposition politicians would make this balanced observation for the greater good, but their party lines and allegiances clearly negate this option.
Alistair McBay, Methven, Perth
The “bile and hatred” as described by the journalist Sarah Smith that she experienced during her reporting of Scottish politics should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone. The sheer unpleasantness experienced by anyone daring to question the purported benefits of independence is there for all to see. God forbid that you are Scottish and disagree with independence as you are more than likely to be called out as a “traitor”, as demonstrated by the ex-SNP MP Phil Boswell when referencing Sarah Smith on Twitter.
Further, we have a current SNP MP, James Dorman, stating that “America would be the go-to place to escape all her imaginary woes”. This bile and hatred hurled at those who oppose independence is a national disgrace and shows our proud nation to the rest of the world as nothing more than insular and narrow minded. Now is the time for Nicola Sturgeon to stop the weasel words and take action against the likes of James Dorman and others. It is no longer acceptable for him to spew out his bile and hatred only for a little time later to offer a meaningless apology, with the SNP hierarchy sweeping it under what has become a very dirty carpet.
One can only hope that the time will come again when our nation looks outwards and becomes a welcoming, proud and inclusive nation once again.
Richard Allison, Edinburgh
It is indeed “depressing” that Alexander McKay (Letters 18 February) again appears to rejoice in the use of words such as “hate” and “bile”, but only when he can attempt to pin them on the SNP or others supporting Scotland’s right to self-determination.
The abuse suffered by BBC reporter Sarah Smith is to be absolutely deplored and condemned, but it is questionable whether that abuse is only “because her father was a well-known pro-UK politician” rather than in part because of her own sometimes misjudged comments; her father was generally well-respected across the political spectrum, even by those Mr McKay would term “Scottish Nationalists”.
What is also to be deplored is Mr McKay’s own repeated attempts to associate Scottish civic nationalism\patriotism with the far-right politics of British\English, and by implication former German Nationalism.
Perhaps if Alexander McKay had taken the opportunity to condemn all abuse of women, and especially women in the political arena such as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has received repeated death threats, others might have greater respect for his own views even though his mind is seemingly closed to the idea that in the long term Scotland is more likely to achieve our common aspirations through its own government rather than through a government intent on fulfilling the aspirations of a corrupt gang of public schoolboys from another country.
Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian
The Scottish Government told us that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report on the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) in Scottish education would be an independent evaluation.
It is now clear that this evaluation has not been independent. The initial OECD draft was adumbrated by Scottish Government intervention, as reported in the Times this week. So, for example, a “decline in maths and science” in the draft becomes “remained stable in maths and science” in the report.
Consultancy reports paid for privately are open to the criticism that whoever pays the piper calls the tune.
This should not occur with consultancy on issues relating to the public good, paid for out of the public purse. Education is too important a matter to be manipulated by dodgy relationships between client governments and consultants.
One expects integrity from an organisation such as the OECD. Instead we have had a grubby process whereby the consultant, the OECD, has allowed the client, the Scottish Government, to change the substance of the draft report.
The integrity of the OECD has thus been compromised. Heads should fall at the OECD, otherwise the organisation is open to the accusation that it is just engaged in cheapskate consultancy.
Rod Cross, Glasgow
It appears that a number of senior SNP figures are currently engaged in trying to reassure key Defence contractors based in Scotland, mainly on the Clyde and on the Forth, that they would continue to get Defence contractual work even if the SNP achieves its ultimate aim of independence from the UK.
A rather tall order on their part, I would suggest.
Because let's face it, if Scotland should cease at some future date to be part of the UK, then the powers that be at Holyrood can be assured that the Royal Navy would no longer place contracts with shipbuilding yards based in Scotland.
Of course, it might be that the Government of a future independent' Scotland would wish to set up its own defence systems.
But one can understand why companies such as Babcock, BAE Systems and Thales might be apprehensive about that possibility, especially when one considers the size of any future Scottish budget.
The facts speak for themselves – there are more than 30 million taxpayers in England and Wales, but only 2.5 million in Scotland.
Is this just another example of the naivety and incompetence of the SNP Administration at Holyrood.
Robert I G Scott, Ceres, Fife
On June 23 2016 the UK voted on whether to remain or to leave the European Union. In Scotland the turnout of voters was 67.2 per cent. The lowest in the United Kingdom, I believe. The result showed that 62 per cent of the turnout voted to remain.
As a percentage of the Scottish electorate, the Scottish people, it was 41.6 per cent. Not a majority of Scots but a minority of Scots.
Since the vote, Nationalist politicians, journalists, bloggers and their camp followers have insisted that Scotland was dragged out of the EU against its will.
Don't forget, Scotland was not a member of the EU. The UK was, and the EU had no interest in negotiating with Sturgeon and co.
There is no justification in claiming that the majority of Scots voted to remain. Such a claim is simply a lie and it has become one of the biggest lies in the current constitutional wrangle (there is no "debate” so I prefer “wrangle”).
Laura Waddell's assertion (Perspective, February 17) that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer's stance on rejoining the EU is reason enough for leaving the UK is rubbish. Pure and simple.
Stuart Stephen, Poolewe, Ross-shire
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