Readers' Letters: SNP must push for independence urgently

This is an urgent clarion call to the SNP to seriously start talking, planning and campaigning for independence before it is too late. Frustration within the Yes movement and friction within the SNP is losing support in the country. This year polling for independence has fallen from a high of 58 per cent to a static 50 per cent and with communication between the Yes campaign and the SNP remaining poor, another conference will not fix it.

Barbadian women dance as the island cuts ties with the British monarchy (Picture: Randy Brooks/AFP via Getty Images)
Barbadian women dance as the island cuts ties with the British monarchy (Picture: Randy Brooks/AFP via Getty Images)

Is it possible that the SNP is becoming a successful, career-orientated political party and is losing the thrust of a party at the heart of the movement for independence?

I joined the party from the old Liberals when independence was the first focus of the SNP. With Barbados becoming a republic and the bold Boris Johnson getting Brexit done “badly”, all during the Covid pandemic, there is now no good reason Scotland should not become an independent nation again. The only escape from Tory sleaze is independence and unity of purpose is the key.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore

Bye bye Barbados

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As today is St Andrew’s Day, it is important to note that St Andrew is not only the patron saint of Scotland, but also of the likes of Russia, Romania, Ukraine and the Caribbean island of Barbados.

With a population of less than 300,000, Barbados also celebrates its Independence Day today. In 1966, more than 300 years after the first English settlers arrived on the island in 1627, Barbados became an independent sovereign state. This year’s St Andrew’s Day in Barbados is doubly important in that it marks the removal of the Queen as head of state and the island becoming a republic, but still within the Commonwealth. Prince Charles will travel to the island for the ceremonies marking the removal of his mother as head of state.

“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said in a 2020 speech prepared for Governor General Sandra Mason, who will replace the Queen as Barbados' head of state after being elected president. “This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”

Though its name will remain simply Barbados, the removal of the monarch from an island also known as “Little England” may well sow the seeds of republicanism further across the Caribbean.

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Alex Orr, Edinburgh

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Edinburgh's tram extension: Leith Walk faces longer closure after project hits p...

Brits not all ‘bad’

While it is fashionable to only see the bad in our history, we should not forget that the world owes vaccination to two Britons – Edward Jenner who proved the efficacy of cowpox material as a vaccine against smallpox, and Alexander Wood from Cupar in Fife, who created the first hypodermic syringe.

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In 1798, Jenner published the results of his challenge trials proving the success of cow pox vaccination in protecting against smallpox. Vaccination spread rapidly. By 1802 the Honourable East India Company had brought cowpox vaccination to India, and it is estimated that by 1807 about a million people there had been vaccinated. Given smallpox had an infection fatality rate of around 30 per cent, this was one case where the British Empire saved vast numbers of lives even before the abolition of the slave trade or slavery itself.

Most modern vaccination is done using hypodermic syringes. Although injection had been known since the time of the Greeks and Romans, it took until 1851 for Alexander Wood to invent the first glass syringe, the forerunner of modern disposable plastic ones.

We must not allow extremists to crowd the good out of the teaching of our history, and we should honour those Britons who contributed so much to human welfare.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

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It’s about respect

As a Franco-Scot I have always known that the “Auld Alliance” Scotland believes it has with France is as one-sided as the “Special Relationship” the UK believes it has with the US. Other misconceptions include our conviction that the Germans have no sense of humour whereas the French like our jolly jibes.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The Germans, especially the Bavarians, “get” our sense of the ridiculous whereas my French cousins find our “teasing” particularly grating. And mentioning the war will get German eyes rolling but the idea that we saved the French will give very real offence.

It comes down to respect. We fought against Germany twice in the last century but we hold them in high regard and their great generals (Rommel and von Manstein) feature in the Sandhurst curriculum. In contrast, our French allies are ridiculed and their only “serious” soldier, Napoleon, died two centuries ago.

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I’ve no idea why Boris Johnson insists on looking as if he slept under a hedge but his scruffy appearance is taken as an insult by the formal and perennially well-dressed French. And tweeting out a “private” letter on the migrant crisis to President Emmanuel Macron is beyond infantile.

Anthony Eden would be the leader we need in this situation. Pragmatic, flexible, endlessly polite, speaking perfect French, so handsome in classic London suits, he made the French feel he was treating the nation and its leader with genuine respect.

(Dr) John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife

Own up on NHS

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What looked like a newspaper supplement was pushed through my letterbox recently. It turned out to be a large SNP “Pravda” election leaflet. One of the banner headlines for an article read: “Let's be clear… the Tories can't be trusted with the NHS”. Wait a minute, I thought, responsibility for the NHS in Scotland has been devolved. Was there a misprint and should Tories have read “SNP”? Alternatively, hasn't the penny dropped with our “government” over the last 12 years that the NHS is their responsibility. That would explain the parlous state it is in. Have Humza Yousaf, Shona Robison, Nicola Sturgeon and other past health secretaries been drawing salaries under false pretences or, to give the headline some form of truth and credibility, is Humza Yousaf really a Tory in disguise?

Maybe the publication and its wealth of fiction should be entitled “Utopian Fantasy”.

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

Alternative facts

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In a Radio Scotland interview on Friday, Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes first denied the figure for the Scottish fiscal deficit published in August by her own government (“I fundamentally dispute your premise”). Then, turning to natural resources, she claimed that “96 per cent of electricity two years ago was generated from renewable sources”; in fact just over 50 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand is met by renewables. Finally, on the UK Government’s recently published strategic review of investment to improve transport connections across the UK, Ms Forbes said: “We always seem to be invited in when it comes to rubber stamping UK government plans”. It was only in January of this year that her cabinet colleague, Michael Matheson, while holding the brief for Transport, turned down the invitation to participate in this study.

Donald Trump may no longer be in office but his administration’s approach of deploying “alternative facts” to distract from inconvenient truths appears to be thriving in SNP-governed Scotland.

George Rennie, Inverness

Tram crash

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Your article “Trams: Leith Walk facing longer closure” (29 November) conjures up Groundhog Day for me. I woke up in the same nightmare of the City of Edinburgh destroying itself with the same clarion cry of "on time and on budget”.

The current claimed status of the so-called Tram Extension is yet again misreported, the business case says that construction will be completed by Q3 2022, but there is absolutely no prospect of this happening. The historic costs from Phase 1, which are now nearly ten years old, should have told the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) that building the city section from York Place to Haymarket cost twice as much per mile as the section from Haymarket to the Airport. Had they used these historic costs this project was never viable.

The Business case in Section 6 underlines a decision by CEC to take on the Utilities risk, with the currently stated delay to this section and the prospect of other section delays having effectively rendered the existing contract signed with the various contractors into cost plus contracts. These contracts guarantee the contractors get paid all of their costs. With this cost plus status, which will include the ongoing Coronavirus effect on cost increases in materials of 50 per cent plus and the current labour difficulties, I confidently predict a larger proportional disaster than Phase 1, with out-turn costs well in excess of £500 million.

Lord Hardie has a lot to answer for – had he published his findings in a timely manner as promised on his appointment, there was a chance of me and others not watching the same train crash again and again.

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John R T Carson, South Queensferry, Edinburgh

Saints alive

After scrutinising all available TV and radio listings for special broadcasts for St Andrew's Day, I gave up in dismay – nothing! However, my faith was restored in the BBC. The Sunday Service on Radio 4 broadcast the 1st Sunday of Advent service from St Andrews University Chapel. This included a most informative sermon from Rev Donald MacEwan on the subject of Saint Andrew himself.

Margot Kerr, Inverness

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Spreading laughs?

Did whoever named the new virus Omicron have a sense of humour as the anagram is Moronic

Elizabeth Hands, Armadale, West Lothian

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