Readers' Letters: Sturgeon has an odd notion of ‘compromise’

Last week, Nicola Sturgeon was reported as having offered the UK government a “compromise”. No, no – not that she would accept not having a referendum or continuing to agitate for secession.

Her “compromise” is that the UK Government should agree to allowing her a Section 30 order, for a legal referendum, and then she would talk about the conduct of the referendum. She claims that that was what happened in 2012, with the Edinburgh Agreement, in the process rewriting history: “We didn’t get everything we wanted out of that negotiation… and in any negotiation you have to be prepared to compromise”.

I don’t remember any compromise about the question to be asked, the composition of the electorate, the threshold for a successful vote or the date of the vote. The SNP, in the person of Alex Salmond, unilaterally chose all of these – to the lasting shame of then Prime Minister David Cameron.

If Ms Sturgeon were to make an offer based on genuine compromise, it should include agreement on a Remain/Leave question, as directed by the Electoral Commission for the Brexit referendum, because of the inherent biases of the “yes/no” answer. It should also recognise that breaking up a country requires a mandate of a lot more than a 50 per cent plus one vote majority. The SNP’s own constitution requires a two-thirds majority for change. Why shouldn’t the British constitution?

Nicola Sturgeon at her press conference to launch a second independence paper at Bute House on July 14. (Picture: Andrew Milligan - Pool/Getty Images)

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I’m not saying that we should expect the threshold achieved in Norway in 1905 of over 99 per cent for secession from Swedish rule. But we do need an overwhelming majority for such an overwhelming cause.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Simple minds

Shirley McVitie complains about the use of the word “poo” in a letter from the NHS (Letters, 18 July). The NHS took the decision sometime ago to simplify the language they use, so that “poo” and “pee” are now in their regular vocabulary instead of a wide variety of alternatives, some difficult to comprehend, let alone spell. Ms McVitie should acknowledge that she had no difficulty in understanding what was meant by “poo”, just as her forthcoming mammogram will report, clearly and positively, I hope, on the health of her breasts.

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Malcolm Ogilvie, Bruichladdich, Isle of Islay

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Carbon game up?

Calculations of the carbon footprint of Scotland’s 3,848 commercial wind turbines by Aberdeen University scientists has revealed that 4.9 million tons of greenhouse gases have been released into the atmosphere as a result of digging up ancient peat bogs and felling trees to carpet our country in wind farms. The academic paper concludes that “in the worst land use change scenario, the data is comparable to the life cycle emissions of fossil fuel technologies such as coal and gas-fired electricity generation”, yet our mindless SNP/Green Government refuses to consider nuclear development and ploughs ahead with plans to double onshore wind farm capacity using sites which will create lengthy carbon payback times (suitable sites have all long since been taken). There is no thought for the environmental toll of damaging delicate ecosystems or the effect on rural residents who are bearing the brunt of their reckless dash towards net zero.

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The Scottish Government template for calculating carbon payback time is obviously some sort of sick joke and their game is now very much up!

Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor, East Renfrewshire

Energy crossroads

As the Conservative Party leadership hopefuls engage in a grotesque bun fight out to see who can offer the highest tax cuts, it was pleasing to note the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warn that this would be a mistake. The IMF is among the groups predicting the UK could see the slowest growth and most painful inflation of any G7 nation in 2023 thanks, in part, to reliance on fossil fuels, a big driver of inflation.

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In comparison, the poorest households in France are now 25 per cent better off than their UK counterparts, with the latter experiencing widening inequalities, meaning that UK households have been left less resilient to cope with the current cost of living shock.

The UK's challenges are very deep-rooted, with economic growth lagging behind many competitors since the 2007 financial crisis. Our longer-term underperformance reflects a chronic lack of investment in skills and infrastructure and as a consequence we're a low wage, low productivity, low growth economy, fraught with political infighting. Private sector investment has also languished and post the 2016 EU referendum business investment fell dramatically. It remains 10 per cent below the 2015 peak, leading to a less efficient economy – and so poor wage growth.

Taxation would be better channelled into projects that focus on sustained long-term economic prosperity, rather than fighting over who can lower these the furthest.

Whoever moves into No.10, we are at a crossroads as to how the UK’s future is shaped.

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Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Shameful sham

Derek Sharp wants to see Scotland’s balance sheet, as though we are an autonomous economic entity (Letters, 18 July). We’re not. We’re a UK region in a highly centralised union where wealth is concentrated in London and the South East. Scotland’s position in the UK is like having money stolen from your bank account and then being told you can’t afford to live on your own without handouts.

Westminster spends Scottish revenues on English projects like HS2 and Crossrail and on a bloated military and nuclear weapons project, sited half an hour from our largest city. It charges us £4.5 billion per year on interest on a debt we neither created nor benefit from. And it steals our natural wealth.

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The UK Government’s windfall tax U-turn, projected to raise £5bn from the oil and gas industry, is Westminster again using Scotland’s assets to bail itself out. A windfall tax is needed because of decades of UK energy mismanagement through deregulation, gifting huge tax breaks to Big Oil, and failing to invest in renewables like the Aberdeenshire Acorn carbon capture project.

The UK economy performs worse than Scotland’s neighbours including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Ireland. The UK is not only poorer, but also has greater levels of inequality, poverty and far less social mobility, innovation and business investment.

This sham of a Union is so over.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

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Historic hubris

Fraser Grant’s analysis of the Union of 1707 lacks any balance (Letters, July 18). He is happy to aim all kinds of accusations against the English parliament but does not explain why they did what they did. It was realpolitik, just as we see today in Europe.

The reason England was exerting so much pressure on Scotland was simple. It was that Scotland, which already had a weak economy and which had suffered a series of famines, had taken the extraordinary step of creating a settlement at New Caledonia on land claimed by Spain in Central America. England was already fighting France and Spain in the War of the Spanish Succession and a bankrupt Scotland could have drawn in Louis XIV, or Spain to foment conflict on British soil and threaten England.

As both Scotland and England had the same monarch, that made Scotland's clumsy imperialism England's problem. Add that the king was Dutch and the politics become decidedly murky.

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This smacks very much of the current EU approach to dealing with the independent UK, doesn't it, especially over Northern Ireland? The EU wish to exert pressure on us to conform to their agenda, whilst we wish to make our own decisions. They are making our trade with them difficult, just as England did to Scotland in 1707.No doubt, Mr Grant feels sympathy for the EU in the matter of Brexit, so it is indeed very odd that he does not feel the same about England in 1707 in a very similar context.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Secret affair

The various views about the creation of the UK rarely admit to the real reason, which is that England refused to have a foreign power on its northern border and as Scotland was chumming up to the French the choice faced was invasion and incorporation, or Union. After the costly failure of the Darien Scheme, the moment was ripe and the choice was obvious, so here we are. Of course the discussions were all held in secret which explains the shortage of written evidence.

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I wonder if Putin offered Ukraine a similar option?

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Mixed doubles

Bill Cooper (Letters, 15 July) thinks that Scotland is not a real country and compares it with South Tyrol, which is no more than a county, and Bavaria which is a state in Federal Germany.

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Scotland was first formed under King Kenneth McAlpin in 843, England in 927 under King Athelstan. Scotland and England were united in 1707, each giving up their sovereignty but each keeping their status as a country within that union. It therefore follows that if Scotland leaves the Union, the UK will no longer exist. Wales does not count as it was absorbed into England in the 1400s. I wonder what would be the reaction if he asked the same question in England?

Sandy Philip, Edinburgh

Gloriously nasty

With the current weather warnings of impending doom, one could be forgiven for thinking Morticia Addams had taken over the Met Office.In one of the classic episodes of the Addams Family, when Wednesday and Pugsley announce they are going out to play, she replies horrified, “In this weather? With all that blue sky and sunshine?”

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Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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