Readers' letters: SNP is happy to be England’s junior partner

I was dismayed but scarcely surprised to read Stewart McDonald’s article on the Scottish Government’s China policy (Scotsman, 22 April). In venting his ill-informed hostility towards China, he once again exposes how the SNPnote-0 has turned its back on its proud history as an independence-seeking party in favour of a cosy sinecure as a junior partner of the English establishment.

McDonald affirms that Scotland is a “proud European nation”, but he shows complete ignorance of the fact that there is a world beyond Europe (and the Anglosphere) – the kind of ignorance that explains why much of Asia, Africa and Latin America refuses to simply line up behind McDonald’s beloved Nato over the Ukraine issue.

Your columnist notes that “many Scottish businesses have a thriving trade relationship with China”, which he attributes to a supposed “voracious appetite for our world-class food and drink exports”. It's certainly true that much of China's middle class enjoys smoked salmon and whisky as much as the rest of us. But I’m sure they can either import them from Ireland or Norway or indeed live without them.

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McDonald says this is not a “significant concern”, as “China accounts for just two per cent of Scotland’s exports compared to nine per cent across the EU”. Sorry, but for any politician that put Scotland first, such lagging behind in lucrative trade with the world’s second largest economy should indeed be a “significant concern”.

A reader claims independence is way down the list of SNP prioritiesA reader claims independence is way down the list of SNP priorities
A reader claims independence is way down the list of SNP priorities

As First Minister, Alex Salmond built a thriving relationship with China, based on mutual benefit and mutual respect. These are precisely the kind of international links we need to forge in order to help achieve and consolidate our independence. But independence is clearly well down the list of the SNP’s priorities.

It was Salmond, too, who first drew attention to our “close affinities to our Nordic (and Celtic) neighbours”. But whereas he was referring to progressive values, for McDonald it is a case of “our shared interest in protecting and strengthening the liberal, rules-based international order which guarantees our freedom and prosperity”.

Freedom and prosperity? When exactly did the SNP forget that Scotland is seeking freedom and not least because too many of our people are living in poverty – in a country that has the potential to become one of the most dynamic and prosperous economies in the world, once we secure an independence that will give us the right to be the friend of every other country and the enemy of none.

Keith Bennett, Edinburgh

Crowning glory

It is always interesting to “see ourselves as others see us”, as Burns said, and Marjorie Ellis Thompson gave us that in spades (Letters, 24 April), criticising people enjoying the Coronation of our new King, who is a unifying, politically neutral figure representing our country. By comparison, the US President, for example is a divisive, political head of state, like Mr Trump.

According to Ms Thompson, buying memorabilia to commemorate the Coronation is “silly”. However, exactly the same things are sold in the US when a president is inaugurated. Is that “silly”? I would dearly love to know.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Regal rant

What a relief to hear that Marjorie Ellis Thompson (Letters, 24 April) can still afford to go on cruises, despite inhabiting what she describes as this “failed state” of ours. Likewise all her fellow UK passengers, even though they “looked like they had had very hard lives”.

In a protracted moan blaming kings and queens for our abject poverty compared to everywhere else, it is surprising that Ms Ellis Thompson lists Portugal and Italy amongst those places which “live in the present and prosper”. Neither could be termed wealthy, and Italy’s far-right government was voted in by an electorate made desperate through dire economic, social and political circumstances.

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The fact that in Scandinavia (the cruise destination) Finland alone is a republic is conveniently glossed over; European countries with constitutional monarchies are historically the most stable and prosperous on the continent.

France’s embattled President Macron, meanwhile, has been compared to Louis XIV by many protesting French citizens. Just as well His Majesty’s visit there was cancelled, since the pair of them dining in splendour at Versailles would have reinforced this impression and brought enraged an mob to the gates

Anyway, who really wants a President Sunak, Starmer or (God help us!) a President Yousaf or Sturgeon?

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Monarchy best bet

For once I largely agree with Neil Anderson (Letters, 25 April): the Coronation and much of the monarchical system is a disgrace. However we do need a head of state and in my humble opinion a good monarchy is our best bet.

Good monarchs are trained from birth for the role. They are above politics as the national figurehead and so represent all the people and thus can unite the whole nation. Poor monarchs can be removed legally by parliaments and people.

Presidents are directly elected and are untrained. They are political appointments representing divisions in society and so cannot unite the nation. Presidents cannot be removed legally and easily by parliaments and people – as we learn from Russian, American, Chinese and a dozen other nations’ experience.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Stop burning oil

Surely environmentally we have the wrong target in our sights? Those who drill for and extract fossil fuels do not cause global warming. Hydrocarbons are a valuable resource and feed stock for many useful products. Greenhouse gases are only produced by burning such fuels and then only if the CO2 produced is not captured and stored somehow.

The target should be the burners of fossil fuels. Stop the burning and the oil companies’ operations will decline, as they already are (Scotsman, 24 April).

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Pot and kettle

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I write to congratulate you on your headline “Rangers Condemn Aberdeen Chants” (25 April) which is rich given the uplifting nature of Rangers’ own songbook. Irony all round, I say.

Ian Petrie, Edinburgh

Always walls

So Humza Yousaf spent Monday in London, where his schedule included meetings with UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and EU Ambassador, Pedro Serrano (Scotsman, 25 April).

Of these, you’d imagine the most significant would be with the UK Prime Minister since Sunak is the only one with whom Yousaf has a direct working relationship. Yet on Facebook, Yousaf has posted jolly photo opportunities with only Khan and Serrano while merely reposting the National newspaper's front page, which reports that Yousaf demanded indyref2 at the Sunak meeting. Why, for the SNP establishment, whoever’s in charge, is it never bridges but always walls with our closest friends and neighbours?

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Scottish Bo rders

Auld Reekie

Just when is the city of Edinburgh going to take seriously its appearance to the world outside? Having just returned from Lisbon and its surrounding tourist towns I was struck by the pride which Portugal clearly takes in presenting itself to the visiting public.

Pavements free from cracks, depressions and unsightly repairs, there is little evidence of litter/cigarette butts and the implementation of refuse arrangements avoids the battered unsightly overflowing bins which plague our city centre, not to mention recycling bins which often cram streets for large chunks of the day before collection. Really, what must tourists think of what purports to be one of Europe’s finest cities?

Of course the principal tourist centres in Portugal, not to mention just about every other European hotspot, have a modest nightly tax on visitor accommodation whatever its type and the income from this is used specifically to address the issues I mention in regard to our embarrassing city.

It’s past time we introduced this sensible and necessary levy in order to stop the rot and present our potentially beautiful city in a much improved light.

Mike Dunsmore, Edinburgh

Money matters

As Labour reportedly lost almost 200,000 members with an estimated £8 million a year in income since Sir Keir Starmer became leader, you would think Jackie Baillie (Scotsman, 25 April) would at least check the facts on the SNP finances as published by the Electoral Commission. The SNP audited accounts as at 31 December 2020, just three months before the leaked Nicola Sturgeon video, showed that the SNP had £260,000 in the bank and annual membership income of almost £2.5m, so Nicola Sturgeon was right to say that trying to question the SNP’s finances in the run-up to an election was not helpful whilst trying to attract donors.

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For those 2021 Scottish Elections, the SNP spent £1.6m which worked out at 66p for every vote gained compared to £1.11 by the Tories, £1.10 by Labour and £1.33 by the Lib Dems, which shows the SNP was far more fiscally prudent than the other parties.

In the interests of openness and transparency, can Jackie Bailie inform us of the membership numbers of Labour’s regional accounting unit in Scotland?

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh


Of course the SNP is perfectly transparent (Scotsman, 24 April). That's why everyone can see right through them.

Ian Lewis, Edinburgh



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