Readers' letters: Sectarian hatred suits the separation agenda

Former First Minister Jack McConnell has rightly accused the SNP of stoking sectarianism (Scotsman, 20 September) by not continuing and widening the progress he achieved by bringing together key stakeholders on both sides and serious unitiatived.

Members of the Orange Order and their supporters marched through Glasgow on Saturday
Members of the Orange Order and their supporters marched through Glasgow on Saturday

I grew up on the edges of all this in West Lothian in the ’60s. Thankfully I got an education and moved away. I stopped going to Rangers games after I took my young son to see them play Aberdeen 15 years ago and was appalled by their fans' behaviour.

The SNP know exactly what they are doing. They thrive on blame and division and they know the Orange Lodge will struggle to keep a lid on their most extreme members who, in turn, will respond to Irish republican provocation.

The culprits are Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. They turned, and still turn, a blind eye to bigots within their party but crucially, as McConnell said, they put little serious effort into banging heads together, positive initiatives and education.

The only conclusion as to why this is is because it stokes the fires of division, hatred and therefore separation.


Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Long way round

Last year I enjoyed a 30-minute walk to my local surgery, waited two minutes and was given my flu vaccination.

This year I received a letter inviting me to go to Ingliston. This would entail a round trip of 70 miles which I would undertake by car or, if I chose the bus instead, the same journey would involve the use of eight buses and would take some five hours for the round trip, according to the travel app I consulted.

In an effort to make things a little more efficient I called the number on the letter I received (average call waiting time apparently 3.5 minutes) and waited 12.5 minutes for an answer, only to be told that a) the telephone number on the letter was wrong and was for Covid vaccinations, b) I was correct in my observation that there was no link on the website given which would allow me to change my appointment, despite the written statement that there was and c) I should phone back in a week.

I’d like to think that Humza Yousaf will wade in on my behalf and sort things out before I make that call, but somehow I don’t think that will happen.

In the event of my local surgery being out of the equation this year, there’s a hospital in Haddington, in case he didn’t know.

We’re constantly being told that the Scottish Government is working on improving NHS Scotland and that we’re leading the way in cutting back on environmental damage. I have doubts on both counts.

Alastair Carmichael, Tyninghame, East Lothian

Delta variant

A friend of mine currently has a headache and a sore throat, which have been shown by a wide-ranging UK study to be possible symptoms of the virulent Delta variant of coronavirus.

However, NHS Inform Scotland advise that you should only immediately isolate and arrange a PCR test if you have a fever, new cough or change to taste or smell.

In fact, headache and a sore throat have been shown to be more common symptoms of the Delta variant than the latter three.

No wonder the Delta variant is so rampant.

David J Mackay, Edinburgh

Off his trolley

Trust Humza Yousaf – or "Huffy Useless" as he's known to his detractors at SNP branch level – to make a mountain out of a molehill by reacting like a spoilt child to being laughed at over his pratfall whilst using a sawn-off shopping trolley to get around Holyrood.

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Suppose we ought to be thankful he didn't call in the police to demand the "racist" trolley be prosecuted – his stock in trade response whenever he's not getting his own way, from nurseries to trains to hospital waiting targets.

Mark Boyle Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Sign of the times

Ultimately Nicola Sturgeon's responsibility, Scotland's ambulance service sadly is in severe crisis.

But how can this be when the SNP has prioritised adding Gaelic signage to our ambulances?

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Scottish Borders

Crofting in peril

Among the many issues facing our Scottish Parliament should be the problems of our crofting industry and the rural and island communities.

The current legislation leaves crofts being unused and unavailable to local young people who wish to remain in their local area but are precluded from doing so because of current legislation.

Many of these crofts and tenancies are being purchased by people who have no interest or knowledge of a working croft.

Our parliament would be doing a great favour to future generations if they would amend legislation to allow crofts to be available to our young folk and keep our crofting communities alive.

DG McIntyre, Edinburgh

Fossil fuels

If the world follows Dr Richard Dixon's policy (“Majority of reserves must remain unused”, Scotsman, 16 September) – keep fossil fuels in the ground – civilisation would grind to a halt and the economy would collapse.

Much as it makes sense to limit greenhouse gas emissions, such a drastic step is impracticable. We have to be weaned off fossil fuels gradually but that means that emissions will continue for a long time yet. It's very unlikely that the 2015 Paris Climate targets will be reached.

Dr Dixon claims that “there is no ‘technofix’ that lets the oil industry keep going as usual”. However, there is at least one such “fix” that would allow near normal operations to continue as they decline. I refer to marine cloud brightening, a scheme to produce clouds from sea water that will reflect so much solar radiation that the rise in global temperature can be halted; it can even bring the temperature down.

The details have been worked out by Prof Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh and the idea has lately been championed by Prof Sir David King (former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government) of the Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge. He explained his reasoning in a recent interview on Channel 4 News.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Roman history

The Roman general, Fabius Quintus Maximus, was awarded the additional name Cunctator – the Delayer. He earned this by virtue of his tactics in the Carthaginian wars. By repeatedly delaying engaging in a pitched battle with Hannibal he ensured a successful conclusion to the war.

Perhaps Scottish Government ministers are aficionados of Roman history. Their delaying strategy in the handling of the Ferguson Marine contract – due to be completed in 2018 – has ensured, as the First Minister has pointed out, that "hundreds of people working at Ferguson's today wouldn't be working at Ferguson's".

Continuing to play the long game, they parachuted turnaround expert, Tim Hair, in to run the shipyard. He is proving that his £2,565 per day salary is indeed good value by announcing further delays, thereby guaranteeing employment for the workers until at least July 2023.

It's a pity that the yard's bid to build another two ferries was rejected and that that contract is to go ship workers abroad perhaps in Romania.

However, given that the Scottish Government have turned the completion of Glen Sannox and Hull 802 into a war of attrition, I am confident we can rely on them to continue to manage the existing contract in such a way as to secure shipbuilding on the Clyde perhaps well into the next decade.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Sink or swim

Brian Monteith (Scotsman, 20 September) claims Brexit is about “Global Britain” regaining its authority to act in its own best interests. Really?

Economically, throwing away tariff-free trade with our largest neighbour has resulted in chronic food and labour shortages, price increases, and the loss of billions in EU funding Westminster isn’t replacing. Liz Truss’ and Boris Johnson’s Aussie trade deal sacrifices Scottish farmers in exchange for hormone-injected beef and lamb flown halfway around the world when the world is burning.

Geopolitically, a UK severed from the EU isn’t useful to the United States. President Biden didn’t return Johnson’s call for 36 hours during the Afghanistan withdrawal and refused his request to extend the August 31 deadline.

Johnson’s threat to renege on the Northern Ireland Protocol undermined the UK’s claim that Global Britain’s diplomacy would be rules-based. And the Tory foreign aid cut to the poorest nations confirms that Global Britain equates to an Imperial Britain that fleeced its colonies.

At home, the Tory chumocracy squandered billions on a failed test and trace system and inferior PPE. It’s selling off England’s NHS while the Internal Market Act puts Scotland’s Health Service on the auction block. Rishi Sunak’s ruthless cuts to Universal Credit will hurt 400,000 Scottish families and working Scots will bear the cost of the regressive NICS increase to fund England’s NHS and care sector failures.

The UK is a failing state that sloganeering won’t save. Scotland has a stark choice – sink within the UK or prosper outside it.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

French lesson

Now the French – angered by the Aukus security pact – may realise how Russia must have felt a few years ago when France refused to hand over to Russia a warship whose construction Russia had paid for and which France had already finished building!

J Moir, Aberdeen

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