To remind readers, planning officials, the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, the John Muir Trust, Shetland Amenity Trust, Shetland Bird Club, and Sustainable Shetland, along with the majority of residents, all objected to the Viking Wind Farm in Shetland. Despite all this, the Scottish Government granted planning permission, with utter disregard for the peat-rich environment and birdlife. Eco tourism? Forget it. How dare the heavily subsidised wind industry claim their electricity is ever-so-cheap when these “hidden” costs are never disclosed. And of course, the “Security of supply” for Shetland will be “ensured” by reversing the power from conventional sources whenever the wind stops. This week’s UK weather – flat calm.
George Herraghty, Lothlorien, Elgin, Moray
It looks very unlikely indeed that Nicola Sturgeon can achieve her stated aim of a legal Section 30 order from Westminster no matter who is in power. The fallback position is deemed by her to be a "de facto" referendum at the next general election. This is extremely unlikely to work. If the SNP & Greens do not achieve their 50 per cent +1 of the votes result then Nicola Sturgeon's “grand plan” will turn into a nightmare situation for the nationalists. The next general election is a “must win” event for them but could be ignored by Westminster should the SNP and Greens actually achieve this. Either way, if the desired outcome is not reached, Nicola Sturgeon has exposed the independence movement to almost certain terminal defeat. October 19 2023 is looking more like Flodden than Bannockburn.
Gerald Edwards, Glasgow
May we now add the gift of precognition to Keith Brown, depute leader of the SNP’s, talents? How exactly does he know that “the next prime minister will still not have Scotland’s best interests at heart”. If he is not blessed with these powers, did he ascend to Arthur's Seat when the moon is waning crescent to speak with a shawl-clad crone to gain this insight?I’m no psychic, but there may be a general election soon. After this, the PM might even be Keir Starmer rather than the Tories of the SNP’s fever dreams. Either way, I expect Scotland’s interests will be best served by this clairvoyant of Clackmannanshire putting the tarot cards down, doing his day job and with Scotland remaining part of a political entity with a large tax base and long-standing economic clout on the world stage.
David Bone, Girvan, South Ayrshire
Scotland and N Ireland did not want Brexit and now the economic effects have been laid bare by the worst balance of trade figures since 1955, according to the Financial Times. The current account deficit is now 8.3 per cent of GDP. The ONS reports that the UK export of goods to the EU has fallen by £20 billion. Compared to pre Covid UK, exports have decreased by £4.8bn and imports increased by 12.2bn.
The Office For Budget Responsibility said, last week, that cutting taxes is the last thing that the economy needs just now yet the Conservative leadership candidates are offering just that. Some want to reverse the NI increase, some to increase defence spending, some to reduce VAT, to reverse the increase in business rates, and restore the higher rate tax threshold. This is the high speed lane to recession and a return to Cameron/Osborne austerity.
Against that backdrop, it was beyond belief that Sir Keir Starmer has now set the Labour Party against rejoining the EU at a time when the damage is unfolding. Buoyed by the Survation Opinion Poll (one day after Boris Johnson resigned) which, predictably, showed Labour 14 per cent ahead, he gloated that there would be no deals with the SNP. Really? Starting from their lowest base since 1935, if they were short by 24 MPs, and the SNP had the anticipated 52, what then?
We must return to the world's largest trading bloc with freedom of movement. Sir Keir now has a five-point plan, Make Brexit Work, which sounds like it could be confused with a Leadership Candidate's manifesto. What a wonderful gift for the SNP, the only major party fully committed to rejoining the EU. Suddenly that 50 per cent vote looks assured.
John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing Fife
Psephologist Sir John Curtice has told us for some time that Scottish voters are alienated from the Conservative Party – and possibly the UK – by the UK having Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. That is pretty uncontroversial: the SNP has hammered away consistently in its propaganda about Johnson the bogeyman. But now Sir John tells us that Johnson’s departure will make no difference, because Brexit continues.
Does anyone need to be reminded that the Vice-President of the EU Commission, Viviane Reding, wrote to the Scottish Parliament on 20 March 2014 to explain to MSPs that, if a part of a member state left that member state, it would also leave the EU? That is to say, the UK was an EU member state. If Scotland left it as a result of the 2014 referendum, it would also leave the EU. In fact, the date of that Scexit would have been 23 March 2016, Alex Salmond’s chosen “independence day”, exactly three months before the actual Brexit referendum was held.
Anyway, one million Scots voted for Brexit in 2016, and more than one-third of SNP voters were among them. Many of us do not like Brexit, but a substantial minority does. Sir John would do well to remember that.
Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh
While broken Britain struggles to find a competent Prime Minister, Scotland’s long serving First Minister has had private talks with the Queen at Holyrood Palace, when she presented Her Majesty with a bottle Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky.However, it is now time to focus on 19 October 2023. This date is when Scotland will ask the same question as in 2014; “Should Scotland be an independent country”, but in greatly different circumstances.In a preemptive move Nicola Sturgeon has surprised all by directing Indyref2 to the Supreme Court and unveiling legal points and a Plan B in using a General Election as a mandate for independence. This has caught the Holyrood opposition and UK government off-guard by employing an unused but powerful provision in Schedule 6 of the Scottish Devolution Act that allows the Lord Advocate to refer the Holyrood Referendum Bill to the Supreme Court.With the Union case static and with unity of purpose in the independence groupings I am certain that, no matter how arrogant and undemocratic the British state is, Scotland will become a successful and independent nation again, welcomed by a world well aware of its proven abilities.
Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland
There must be an air of disappointment within the SNP camp given that some of the most prominent Tory leadership hopefuls have indicated that Westminster would not sanction an independence referendum for a decade. Given that Keir Starmer has also indicated that he would not agree to another referendum for the time being, it seems that the legal route to an October 2023 Indyref2 is facing some hurdles and puts the ball back in the SNP court.
This will no doubt lead to more grievances and demands from the nationalists but raises the possibilities that the next referendum may take place after Nicola Sturgeon moves on and might become a “once in a generation” occasion as was initially envisaged. Depending on what happens within the UK in the interim, another plebiscite might be more successful if new politicians are more credible and conciliatory, and less divisive.
Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Stirlingshire
Whom to tax?
Yesterday’s letter from Andrew Vass regarding taxation ignored the question “whom to tax?” Economics stems from the Greek “oikonomia” (good housekeeping) in the micro sense or good planetary maintenance in the macro. Therefore a good capitalist creates and disburses wealth in a generous and worthwhile manner; whereas a bad capitalist creates and disburses wealth in a selfish and worthless manner. Good homes for the many versus super homes for the few. As it's foolish to kill the capitalist geese that lay the much-needed golden eggs, which of the two types of businesses should bear the heaviest taxation? The answer is clear to me.
Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian
The letter from Dr Alison Innes (2 July) regarding gene editing of vegetable crop species was a breath of fresh air. It seems the members of our Scottish Government tend to pay scant attention to the published and significant results emanating from Scottish research institutions. They appear to prefer the medical directions of those whom they have appointed to revise the struggling NHS. Public opinion of medical doctors is now at an all time low. However, GPs and specialists are as good as ever – but why are they leaving the jobs they love in unprecedented numbers?Perhaps our First Minister should not be blamed as she is not medically qualified. However, she must bear responsibility for blindly accepting the views of the blinkered medical personnel she has appointed to advise her.
J Nelson Norman DSc FRCS, Aberdeen
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