The latest Bank of England forecasts predict not the Brexit sunny uplands but continuing economic decline. The UK’s “bounce-back” will return the economy to pre-Covid’ levels which were only slightly ahead of the pre-2009-crash’ levels. Growth in 2023 is predicted at 1.25 per cent, a return to the turgid performance which has been typical for decades.Another emerging certainty is the reshaping of the UK through trade policy and negotiation, evading democratic accountability and scrutiny. The Internal Market legislation is the means to force the many unpalatable aspects of this on the devolved nations, particularly Scotland Amongst many disastrous consequences, cheap food imports will wipe out much of Scottish farming.The Conservatives, in familiar ruthless fashion, will choose their moment to ditch Boris Johnson and rebrand under a different leader in time for another dominant UK election success. Scottish Labour supporters will have to face this reality sooner rather than later.Yet more effort will go to undermining devolution, much to the delight of the one in four Scots who vote Conservative. Much less certain is whether Labour and the Lib Dems will stand up for Holyrood and the majority. If not, their irrelevance can only increase.There will be Union flags, talk of tunnels, gunboat diplomacy, a new royal yacht, yet more episodes of the palace soap-opera and a heavy stench of corruption.In conclusion, independence has never felt closer.
Robert Farquharson, Lee Crescent, Edinburgh
Labour lost Hartlepool and the last vestiges of its "Red Wall" on Thursday because it's now rich people telling poor people that other rich people are the cause of all their woes, compounding the folly by denouncing all opposition as possessed by racism, transphobia or some other secular age demon.Labour is the party of Sixth Form and undergraduate hubris writ large.
Mark Boyle, Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire
Who gets a say?
I refer to the letter from Canon Alan Hughes (6 May). In almost all EU countries those entitled to vote in national elections must be citizens over the age of 18, with many making provision for expats or those with dual nationality to register as voters. It is reasonable that residents who are not citizens are permitted to vote only in local or regional elections or devolved parliament elections.
It would be preposterous if the future of Scotland was influenced by votes cast by citizens of other countries.The First Minister frequently says that the future of Scotland should be decided by Scottish people, but she would be quite happy to give voting rights to half the Rangers squad, foreign citizens on short term contracts, but deny the vote to Stuart Hogg, the Scottish Rugby captain now playing for Exeter, or even Andy Murray, who may now not be Scottish enough for her liking.Many Scots who have had to leave to find work or who have been transferred within a UK company will have the intention of returning home or at least maintaining strong family ties and should have the right to have a say in the future of their homeland.We should hope that if there are any negotiations with Westminster on a future Indy referendum the incumbent Prime Minister is not so naive as David Cameron was in his dealings with Alex Salmond.
W B Campbell, Cammo Grove, Edinburgh
Not so black and white
John Hughes is right – it is wrong that the historian Michael Fry was removed from the committee in Edinburgh preparing the plaque to explain St. Andrew Square’s Dundas statue (Letters, 7 May). But its chairman, Sir Geoff Palmer, had already undermined his objectivity by ascribing a “racist element” to the medics’ reaction when his wife gave birth to their firstborn in 1977 (report 11 March).
As he was not present, and the staff did not know he was Jamaican, of course they were a “little concerned” that the baby’s colouring might indicate something “medically wrong” (just as in 1942 my mother’s medics recognised something was wrong with me as a “blue baby”). He then linked this, out of context, with David Hume’s brief, nuanced footnote about non-whites’ “inferiority”, said “this is the statement that killed George Floyd” (though whites die in similar circumstances) and led “to the incident that Meghan and Harry talk about” (about which he and we know almost nothing).
It seems unlikely his committee will acknowledge that the Atlantic slave trade depended on local chiefs selling their fellow-Africans, or that over a million Europeans were captured into slavery by north-west Africans.
In “Inside Health” (6 May) about the tragedy of India’s current Covid wave, Dr Gwenetta Curry, university lecturer on race, ethnicity and health, makes the facile statement that it is “racism and the residual impact of colonialism” which has prevented India from protecting its own citizens despite its position as the world’s largest vaccine producer. She ignores that it surged under two months ago, after huge religious gatherings, crowded election rallies, sports events and reopened public spaces were allowed.
Too often “white racism” is the default knee-jerk reaction to too many such disasters.
John Birkett, Horseleys Park, St Andrews, Fife
Half the story
Dr Richard Dixon writes "It's high time for lower emissions" from British homes. (Scotsman Online, 6 May). His articles are always full of rhetoric but never reveal the cost of his green demands. To move away from gas boilers to air or ground source heat pump systems is costly. Putting heat pumps in existing homes will cost £10,000 to £20,000. He seems reluctant to reveal that banning gas and forcing us to cook and heat using electricity will increase fuel poverty since wind electricity is 5.6 times the price of gas. He really should come down from his green ivory tower and go to China and India, where the real ongoing and increasing emissions problem lies (30 per cent and 7 per cent), not with the UK's meaningless 1.13 per cent of global emissions.
Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow
Aileen Jackson points out the wind farm havoc being implemented on rural Scotland (Letters, 7 May) as an urban-dominated Parliament refuses to recognise the concerns of voters living outside the Central Belt. Surely a simple solution is to set up separate Assemblies for the rural North and rural South, with the cash from the Barnett formula being split between the two.
If voters in the Central Belt have a penchant for wind turbines then they should note that it is a simple engineering fact that the closer the generators are to the consumer the lower the transmission charges,
Ian Moir, Queen Street, Castle Douglas
Write the rules
Joyce McMillan is right that federalism is not a cure for the Union’s ills (Perspective, 7 May). Federalism wouldn’t have prevented the Iraq War, rid us of nuclear weapons at Faslane or stopped the Brexit fiasco. Federalism won’t work because England is too large and dominant. Gordon Brown popping up again to advise a constitutional commission doesn’t inspire confidence and juxtaposing his name with a constitutional “revolution” is oxymoronic.
However, there is no reason departure from the UK should be acrimonious. Much depends on the UK negotiating in good faith. And let’s not forget that Scotland has other choices upon independence to forge new international ties. These include immediately joining the Nordic Council, EFTA and the European Economic Area before any vote on re-entry to the EU takes place.
A Union based on coercion rather than consent is destined to fail. Ms McMillan refers to the vagaries of the UK constitution. But the UK has no written constitution. It relies solely on parliamentary sovereignty and an archaic first past the post voting system that virtually guarantees minority rule.
An independent Scotland would be wise to have a written constitution that articulates the basic principles of the state, the structures and processes of government and the rights of citizens that cannot be overruled by a regular legislative act. Hopefully our departure will inspire England to do the same.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Merchiston Crescent, Edinburgh
Joyce McMillan lives in a different world to the rest of us. Her comments about the Jersey blockade are so out of touch with reality it begs the question as to what would she suggest should happen if Norway, for instance, decided to blockade Aberdeen Harbour over a similar fishing rights dispute.
It should be recorded that the Jersey authorities requested maritime support from the UK government following threatening messages from the French.
Archie Burleigh, Meigle, Skelmorlie, North Ayrshire
During the elections the saga of London Heathrow and its third runway seems to have gone quiet, I wonder why? The lack of flights during lockdown, the increasing number of flights of 12 to 15 hours duration and the increasing use of Zoom meetings seem to me to make the current provision at Heathrow more than adequate. Lets face it, most passengers seem to be recreational rather than business anyway, and the ability to fly, say, from The Gulf to the US non-stop reminds me of the demise of Prestwick and Shannon once flights could cross the Atlantic without a refuelling stop.
Let’s hope that the Heathrow runway argument quietly disappears.
David Gerrard, Spylaw Park, Edinburgh
Write to The Scotsman
We welcome your thoughts. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid Letters to the Editor in your subject line.
A message from the Editor
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.