Can the election be about both of these things, given that there may be those who want her to continue to steer us during the pandemic but who are also absolutely resolute that they do not want another referendum?
A very mixed message is therefore at the heart of the SNP campaign, and as a result there is no way that the SNP can possibly claim that a majority for them in May will in any way be a mandate for them to proceed towards another referendum.
But wait! Didn't Sturgeon previously state that she should be judged on her record with respect to education? I believe that education standards have fallen during the period that Sturgeon has been FM, but because the Scottish Government doesn't seem to want to publish the OECD report on education until after the election, I do not know by how much they have fallen. So how can I judge? This is surely deliberate.
Another referendum, steering through a pandemic, or education? Which is it? Why does the SNP continue to sow confusion? What we need is a party in government that sends a clear message and not one that speaks with a forked tongue.
Roddy MacLeod, Windsor Place, Edinburgh
Three of your contributors (Letters, February 23) complain about the Scottish Government’s “Flag flying guidance 2021”. On reading the guidance it is clear that it contains no change to the flying of the Union flag. What it states is that where enough flagpoles are available, government buildings should also fly the European flag. While all three contributors refer to the EU or its flag, the guidance actually refers to the European flag.
It seems, that some fail to appreciate the symbolism in the European flag. The Council of Europe, established in the aftermath of a second devastating world war in 1949, and of which the UK is a founding and present member, approved the European flag in 1955. Against the background of blue sky, the stars form a circle, symbolising union. The number of stars is fixed, 12 being the symbol of perfection and completeness and bringing to mind the months in the year, etc. The Council of Europe stands for human rights, democracy and rule of law, and its Council and Court of Human Rights are well-known institutions.
It is right that as a European nation subscribing to such values we should fly the European flag.
Peter Glissov, Sydney Terrace, Edinburgh
Judging by the recent political leaflets I have received; it is the opposition parties that are obsessed with independence and the denial of Scotland’s democratic right to choose (Brian Barbour, Letters, February 23).
The UK government has wasted around £22 billion on inflated Covid contracts to Tory cronies with no previous experience, plus a failed track and trace system, yet Sir Keir Starmer doesn’t think Matt Hancock should resign.
Our Covid record is much better than that of England or Wales as under the SNP we have a far better performing NHS with increased investment on more nurses, doctors and hospital beds per head of population, plus shorter waiting times than elsewhere in the UK.
Also, record numbers of Scottish students are achieving more Highers and going on to to college or university including many more from deprived areas – and all of this is improving year on year.
Scotland is the top destination in the UK, outside of London, for foreign direct investment, no doubt due to the fact that Scotland’s productivity is outperforming the UK as a whole. Since 2007, productivity in Scotland has grown 10.3 per cent, compared to growth of 2.9 per cent in the UK.
It is Brexit that will keep Scotland back for decades to come and with both Labour and the Lib Dems giving up on a return to Europe , the choice is clear.
Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh
Readers might be interested to know that while their focus, quite rightly, has been on Covid and the long-hoped-for relaxation of Lockdown, the Westminster Government has signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Brazil. I am sure your readers will know that President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, besides being one of the main “Covid-deniers”, is allowing the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
To sign a Memorandum of Understanding with such a man and his government flies in the face of the commitment the UK government has given not just to farmers but to the public in general, that it will not allow substandard foods to enter this country. Brazilian beef, like that of the USA, is allowed to be produced using growth-promoting and product-boosting hormones. Much of the rainforests being cut down are being turned into arable land to produce forage for these beef cattle. There is little which can be done to control the vagaries of our majority Government – the MoU is signed and therefore allows trade between UK and Brazil. All we can do is to ask readers (Scottish and UK consumers) to be very careful when they buy their food, that they check and double check the “country of origin” on the labels. When I say check carefully, read the small print! There are loopholes which allow “produced in….” and “packed…in” as well as “product of …”. Looking at the Food Standards Agency might help with this, but the rules are complicated. Consumers are safest to look for the Scottish Saltire or the Red Tractor/Union Jack on their purchases.
Gill Lawrie, Broomhill, Newton of Arbirlot, Arbroath
Much is being written about the proposals for the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion. There seems to be a sense of horror that would require patients to travel to St John's in West Lothian, with all the difficulties involved. I live in West Lothian and was diagnosed, some years ago, with glaucoma and my regular consultations are at St John's Hospital in Livingston.
Some years ago my consultant suggested that, in order to slightly reduce the pressure in my eyes, the lenses be replaced. I agreed with this and arrangements were made for the first operation. This was to be carried out at the Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh and my appointment was on a Saturday morning at 7am. This necessitated an early morning taxi journey into Edinburgh and, after the operation, a further taxi back home. The operation was a success and, some months later, an operation on the second eye was arranged. Again, it was early on a Saturday morning and again entailed a taxi to and from Edinburgh.
I have no complaints about the cost or time taken to and from Edinburgh because my view is that my vision is worth much more than money.
Colin J Oliver, Parklands, Broxburn, West Lothian
All will be well
Marc Weller is not an economist but assumes he can explain the finances of an independent Scotland (Perspective, February 23). He can’t. He bases his analysis on the discredited Growth Commission Report that assumes Scotland will use the pound whereas SNP policy is for Scotland to have its own currency and central bank upon independence, ensuring full monetary control.
Weller cites figures from the Tory-designed GERS that assigns a fictional 8 per cent deficit for Scotland, meaning a region with 8.3 per cent of the population is responsible for 54-60 per cent of UK total debt – absurd. Westminster charges Scotland £3.5 billion per year for defence when Ireland spends £1bn, and £4.5bn for UK debt servicing.
He cites an LSE report by two students funded by the pro-market Centre for Economic Performance that has been debunked by economists – who are not students – for making up data, looking only at trade and failing to account for any Scottish Government investment.
He assumes a hard border with England when the international norm is to have smart borders, like the 1000-mile border Norway shares with Sweden, that ensures smooth trade because of technology and collaboration.
He says accession to the EU will be difficult, but that’s a decision for the Scottish people. They may decide to join EFTA instead for freedom of movement and free access to the EU market.
Weller claims Scotland will inherit a share of UK debt. But Scotland will not be the successor state, so it will be debt-free, something London has conceded.
As a UK region, Scotland’s economic growth has been half that of similarly sized EU nations thanks to Tory austerity and economic mismanagement. International Economics Professor Mark Blyth, a Scot, said, “The UK growth model is unsustainable and Scotland can do better than simply subsist on inter-regional transfers.”
Leah Gunn Barrett, Merchiston Crescent, Edinburgh
Dying for a trip?
If I see another headline asking, "How soon can I go on holiday again?", I will supply the moronic questioner with a pamphlet entitled “Global Pandemics and Why You Need to Stop Whingeing About Bloody Holidays” plus a one-way ticket to their holiday destination of choice, as long as it's on another planet (I'm sure the eternally irritating Elon Musk could arrange something).
Or. they could stay at home and sit it out with the rest of us. Nobody will die from not going on holiday, but some people might die if they do.
Steve Hayes, Aithernie Court, Leven, Fife
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