Readers' Letters: What happened to this nation of thinkers?

I found myself listening to the First Minister at lunchtime on Monday when I turned on the car radio so I decided to listen – for fun.

Could Nicola Sturgeon's briefings be briefer?

Is there any politician on the planet who can match Nicola Sturgeon for sheer long- windedness? She has the capacity to turn a five-minute update into a 15-minute ramble. That is not accidental of course, as she cuts down the time left for the "stooges of the day" with her on the platform who may just be a scientist or a doctor, who actually know what they are talking about! Questions from journalists are likewise squashed to a minimum.

I see that the Holyrood Parliament is contemplating a second vote to force the Scottish Government to release, in full, their legal advice in the mishandling of the Alex Salmond affair. Ms Sturgeon scorns the behaviour of Donald Trump so I put it to her that she is beginning to look like our home grown version! The truth is there for all to see – unless you are a committed Nationalist. It is a cover up. Oliver Mundell was sent out of the chamber recently for daring to say that the First Minister lied. Well done to him! It is crystal clear that the obfuscation, partial answers or none at all, which have become the trademark of Nicola Sturgeon, equals political lying.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

How the BBC justifies the platform it provides for the Nicola Daily Show beats me. If we are to believe her approval ratings then Scots are no longer the canny folk of old. Has she really turned this nation of thinkers into gullible followers?

Alison Fullarton, Lumsdaine, Eyemouth

Mundell muddle

As one of his constituents, I am both confused and concerned by the reason Oliver Mundell gave for resigning his position as Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs and Tourism. He reportedly said he could not support the recent Covid-related travel restrictions as being “in the best interests” of his constituents. The clear implication of this is that he believes there should be no hindrances to people travelling to and from Dumfriesshire.

If this is the case, I find his position not only irresponsible but potentially dangerous in terms of spreading coronavirus and I can only imagine how our hard-working NHS doctors and nurses feel about this. The travel limitations provide an extensive list of exceptions and do not curtail necessary travel between regions, including to and from Dumfriesshire. They are simply designed to prevent unnecessary journeys and thus help reduce the number of potential deaths from Covid-19. I have written to Mr Mundell requesting an explanation as to why he thinks his constituents should not be given this protection and why he opposes these protective measures.

C Donaldson, Moffat

Bully for her

The letter from the Rev John Cameron titled “In defence of Patel” (November 23) must not go unchallenged. Trying to change the narrative to that of a “brave mixed race female MP taking on the upstart toff mandarins” is to distort the true story.

In her three stints in government departments she has been shown to treat her staff badly. Her staff was not composed of Oxbridge-educated graduates but, for the most part, a cross section of our population. As an example of Patel’s behaviour, she told a junior member of staff “to go away and I never want to see your face again”. An enquiry found that she was a bully. How was the BBC meant to handle the story? Perhaps Rev John Cameron would like it to be along the lines of “I know she was found to break the ministerial code but she is a mixed-race Tory MP so, no story here, let’s just move on”. After all, this scenario was used by the Government with the Dominic Cummings episode.

Vincent McCann, Fearnhill Gardens, Edinburgh

No Deal danger

It doesn't seem to occur to other letter writers that the government is in the last stages of Brexit negotiating and maintains the same inflexibility as ever, which makes a hard Brexit quite possible. I give thanks for Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, who claims a No Deal Brexit will affect the economy adversely for decades and have a bigger effect than Covid-19. At least someone is sending a warning to Brexit enthusiasts. It's a pity that the country as a whole shows little interest in what happens over Brexit.

However, leading economists seem a bit more anxious about the debt caused by Covid than Mr Bailey. For the moment, all countries can pile up huge debts – markets accept huge borrowing is necessary so interest rates remain low. But some countries will grow and thus manage to reduce indebtedness – such countries will please the markets. Others may be heavily saddled with a low growth potential and little room to manoeuvre in their aim of bringing down debts. In this category we find the UK. Such countries may face the wrath of markets some time in the future, leading to interest rate rises and a slowing down of their escape from Covid's financial effects.

Mr Bailey may be right that Brexit's effects may outlast Covid's. But one can't assume that the combined effects won't harm our potential growth and wellbeing for some time to come. The government needs to know that intransigence now may never be forgiven, particularly if its Brexit failings eventually cause a reversion to austerity and a failure to promote the green changes Boris Johnston envisions.

Andrew Vass, Corbiehill Place, Edinburgh

Erase debt

Repayment of money borrowed during Covid should not concern the Chancellor. Our National Debt, the sum of all deficits – to which this borrowing has been added – has grown relentlessly from £350 billion in 1997, to £2 trillion by the start of Covid in 2020. So the Covid extra is really academic, as the National Debt was already way beyond any kind of repayment. In fact the only target for spending reduction by government, has been to try to reduce the annual deficit. Indeed, pre-Covid, the Conservatives were boasting of having reduced the deficit by a third, so the ND just keeps rising anyway.

The ND is of course not real. It is merely computer keystrokes by which the banking system creates money from thin air. They are not lending people’s savings or their own investor’s money. Nobody has been deprived of the use of the money they have lent to government.

But of course, that money bears interest payable to the banks, and at the moment, we pay about £55bn a year to the banking system as interest on their magic money. The sensible thing would be to nationalise the banks, or simply tell them to write that sum off as a bad debt, ie totally unrepayable, just as those banks were indeed forced to do for many African countries in the 1980s.

In the view of many, the National Debt (£31,000 per UK head) should be disregarded as it is obviously unrepayable; the banks who have provided that fake money over the years did so knowing that it could never be repaid, but would of course earn interest.

Malcolm Parkin, Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross

Jacobite causes

Alison Campsie’s article “The Jacobites: 'Don't let romanticism obscure the threat they posed” (November 21) was very true, looking at it with Hanoverian colours.

To give it some balance, surely you must look at the causes of Jacobitism, namely religion in part, but principally to the real dissatisfaction with the dynasty sitting in London. Starting with William and Mary in 1689, right through to George IV, not one monarch even bothered to set foot in Scotland, let alone tried to show some respect to the different cultures that existed in the northern part of their Kingdom.

The arrogance and sheer disinterest of William, George I, II and III was mindboggling, which made many Scots toast the health of the exiled Stewart kings, “Tae the King o’er the water”. The German George I totally ignored his Scottish Chancellor, Erskine, the Earl of Mar, on being invited to visit the northern half of his new kingdom. So began the 1715 uprising. What makes it even more galling is that if it were not for past Stewart blood in their veins (in William’s case, through his wife) none of them would ever have come to the British throne!

After the Jacobite victory at Prestonpans in 1745, theirs became the only army in Scotland, with most British forces heavily involved in France. With better generalship, the Jacobite army would have gone on and taken London, George II and all. Another factor here was the total lack of communication with and from the French, whose fleet was ready to sail.

Yes the Jacobite uprisings were serious and only later history has brought in the romanticism. Indeed, many men and their families gave their lives for the cause.Stupidity, arrogance, a lack of common sense and a total lack of leadership brought about all this loss of blood between 1692 and 1746.

There was a gap of 133 years between the end of James VII/II’s reign and George IV’s orchestrated visit to Edinburgh in 1822, when he was heard to say, wearing full Highland dress: “Look at me, you can all wear the kilt now!” Oh dear.

Iain Simpson, Upper Green, West Linton, Peeblesshire

Sticky wicket

Brian Monteith is on a sticky wicket claiming devolution has been a failure (Perspective, November 23). When he talks about “...partisan zealots who put their party before country,” he could be talking about himself, given that his Brexit Party has failed abjectly to make any inroads into Scotland and has been resoundingly rejected in subsequent elections north of the Border.

Clearly, Mr Monteith knows that an independent Scotland would seek to rejoin the EU and maybe this is why so many people have shifted their allegiances in recent months. Not what he wants to hear, hence devolution has been “a failure”.

D Mitchell, Coates Place, Edinburgh

Write to The Scotsman

We welcome your thoughts. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid Letters to the Editor in your subject line.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.