Readers' Letters: The benefits of EU membership go far beyond trade

I agree with Mark Foster (Scotsman, 4 January) that the pros and cons of a future EU membership for an “Indy Scotland… needs to be debated”. It would be a significant step if Scotland were to apply for membership. It would therefore be important for Scots to have their say.

While Mr Foster mentions some disadvantages, he neglects to mention the many benefits of EU membership: arguably why 62 per cent of Scots voted to remain in the EU. The economic benefits of an exporting nation like Scotland to join a huge neighbouring single market are obvious.

However, there are other less tangible but perhaps equally important factors to take into account. We must avoid the trap of only thinking in narrow and transactional terms.

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The EU is a community of values. It means co-operation, close cultural relations and solidarity. It seeks, through common policies, to meet common challenges from climate crisis and sustainable societies to security and geopolitical shifts.

The European Parliament building, in Strasbourg, eastern FranceThe European Parliament building, in Strasbourg, eastern France
The European Parliament building, in Strasbourg, eastern France

Scottish membership of the EU should be seen as a potent response to a troubled European history and today’s challenges. We need to be mindful that our interests are as much about standards, values and our way of life as about economic advantage.

Could it be that Mr Foster, like other Unionists (and many Scots), sees the possibility of EU membership as a positive argument in favour of Scottish independence? Do they fear, that the prospect of joining the EU is more attractive than being tied to the increasingly chaotic, failing and negative UK? Scots have different aspirations; and whilst EU membership would not be a panacea, it is likely to favour the independence movement.

Peter Glissov, Edinburgh

Numbers game

All of our economic basket case advocates – Greens/SNP, Scottish Socialist Party and Alba – deny the democratic legitimacy of both the 2014 and 2016 referendums.

This is a denial shared by Leah Gunn Barrett (Letters, 5 January) while attempting to ridicule Ian Murray MP.The Brexit result is a shoogly peg on which to hang the separatist case for yet another plebiscite.

The turnout in 2016 was 67.2 per cent, meaning that nearly a third of the electorate weren’t that concerned about the EU one way or the other. 38 per cent voted leave. Many Unionists cast their ballots for staying in the EU, whilst a significant minority of separatists opted to part company with Brussels. So the the percentage of Scotland’s electorate voting to stay was actually an unimpressive 41.6 per cent.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Housing needs

David Alexander (Scotsman, 5 January) sums up the Scottish housing situation very succinctly and identifies issues to be addressed and discussions to take place in order to meet the nations diverse housing needs.

It is a matter of some regret therefore that, reading the article, I came to the conclusion that, and with all due respect to the author, with the exception of variable numbers to be applied to the different decades, it could have been written at any time in the last 100 years and not been out of place on your letters page.

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A dispiriting situation indeed which will only be addressed when the political will exists to go beyond the short term political cycle and commit to a long-term strategic vision which transcends political opportunism. I won’t be holding my breath.

Mike Bruce, Edinburgh

Wind Luddites

With the news that over a quarter of Britain’s electricity last year came courtesy of wind power (according to the National Grid Electricity System Operator, aka ESO), are the knee-jerk wind Luddites feeling stupid yet? Or will they take their tin hats off in acknowledgement they got it very, very wrong about how much energy can come from renewables?

Of course, had they bothered looking back at humanity harvesting the free energy of nature for the last 4,000 years (for example, windmills and watermills), they might have realised the absurdity of their mulish stance in the first place.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

NHS blame

The blame for imminent collapse of the NHS can be put squarely at the door of the Tories and New Labour.

Ideologically, they view health spending as a terrible drain on resources. Instead they wish the individual to be responsible for their own “healthcare”.

To that end, for decades Westminster governments of all stripes have deliberately run the NHS into the ground by starving it of resources. All to prepare the ground for private sector vampires to come in and “save” it through privatisation.

The underfunding has resulted in staff shortages and years of eviscerated wages. This has caused burned out workers to go on strike or quit altogether.

The only consideration that the Westminster parties have; is that nothing interrupt the money supply to continue the war in Ukraine. Or that there be no disruption to the payment of government debt. As long as those can go on then Westminster is not concerned about a functioning NHS or citizens struggling to afford to live. The struggle by those working in the NHS is indicative of a movement that is taking place across the globe. In every country, governments and their corporate puppet masters are demanding wages, pensions and jobs be gutted. All for corporate profits. Workers are resisting.

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The capitalist system is a Ponzi scheme designed to enrich a wealthy elite while trashing the planet.

Alan Hinnrichs, Dundee

Tax relief

There is a well recorded shortage of NHS doctors, nurses and dentists in Scotland. It has been said before in your letters pages that those getting free university places paid for by the taxpayer should be legally-bound to work for five years in Scotland’s NHS.

The NHS waiting lists are horrendous so people are having to “go private”. Surely tax relief should be given to those forced to do so – but not to those who pay 41 per cent tax or higher. This would quickly ease the pressure on the NHS.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Beds unblocked

I was surprised to see the letter from Elizabeth Marshall suggesting the requisitioning of hotels to provide convalescent care for bed blockers (Scotsman, 4 January) as it was almost word for word what I had intended to send to you.

My thought is that smaller hotels, say 30 to 50 rooms would be ideal if spread amongst the regions. You would need a doctor on call but not necessarily on site, and competent Sisters could run this size of unit efficiently.

Nursing staff could be found if part-time work – say six-hour shifts or job share – were available as I believe that there are many who would find this acceptable, whilst the thought of working long shifts in a standard hospital, with all of the stress that entails at present, is discouraging them from returning to nursing.

Staff currently employed at the hotel could continue with housekeeping duties so that the nurses were free to do their job.

Such a hotel, after a deep clean, could be equipped with the beds and equipment from the Nightingale hospitals. Those hospitals were set up in record time and so I would hope that similar speed and efficiency could be employed for this which would, I believe, take a great deal of pressure from the hospitals.

Hilary Halliday, Cupar, Fife

Missing in action

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Gerald Edwards rightly asks why the First Minister is posted missing in the midst of an NHS crisis (Letters, January 5). In 2021 Nicola Sturgeon insisted that the election was “not an independence referendum” – which incidentally torpedoes SNP claims to a mandate – but about who we wanted to steer us through the Covid crisis. And on a daily basis she appeared on our screens to update us with a report plus her slant on the situation.

Is the situation now not on a similar scale? I wonder, therefore, why she isn’t up there regularly informing us how many days A&E patients are languishing on trolleys or whether the number receiving treatment within four hours is 55 per cent or 56 per cent rather than the 95 per cent target? Or at least showing support for NHS staff toiling heroically in unprecedented conditions.

The Labour Party set up a National Health Service which would be free at the point of care. They did not foresee this would be a hospital car park.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Striking solutions

I find difficult to see how interference by “the government” can add a great deal to the present complicated strike negotiations.

How, for example, can they add to the discussion on removing guards from trains? (i) I understand there are already trains without guards and there doesn’t seem to be a problem, and (ii) there was a similar outcry about removing conductors from buses and trams but things are now better as accompanying changes have meant no one is killed or maimed jumping on or off a moving bus or tram!

And how, for example, can ministers do anything to contribute to the obvious health service/social care fiasco when we are paying some administrators more than the Prime Minister to avoid and/or solve such issues.

There have been warnings ignored: when the same managers (i) hived off social care without sufficient budgeting, and (ii) ignored talk of requiring more beds with an increasing older population, while they closed wards.

It is getting like the Emperor’s new clothes as we suggest “innovative solutions” that bear no relation to the underlying facts; the refusal to twig that it is we who need to pay more.

James Watson, Dunbar, East Lothian

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