Would our First Minister be displacing two existing members from her not-long-appointed cabinet to make way for Green ones? Or would Nicola Sturgeon, to save internal party pressures, simply create two new cabinet posts and thereby add pressure on the environment with more bureaucrats and offices and salaries, all adding to tax demands for the Scots taxpayers?
Jim Craigen, Edinburgh
Green with envy?
Journalism-wise, Murdo Fraser's latest article (Perspective, 18 August) is very skilful: eye-catching headline, recently invented words, striking opening sentence and clever choice of accompanying photo all conspiring to draw the reader into his critique of the Scottish Greens and, in particular, its co-leader Mr Patrick Harvie.
The average Scottish voter who follows politics will have seen Mr Harvie on TV, participating in debates and giving interviews. I cannot believe they would have formed an opinion even close to that of Mr Fraser: "Bullying, insulting, sectarian, threatening, misrepresenting, traducing, intimidating, debate-denying, simperingly sanctimonious, possessed of a cynical, ruthless and self-serving ego".
Our Scottish Parliament has set standards in debate of which we should all be proud. Vigour? Fine. Disrespect? Not fine. Verbal abuse? Definitely not fine.
Nonetheless, my genuine best wishes to Mr Fraser.
Scott Weatherstone, Edinburgh
Try ‘thank you’
Scotland's Employment Minister Richard Lochhead says “the UK Government must extend furlough for those who still need it" (your report, 18 August). The arrogance of this man and the Scottish Government which, at every opportunity, blames Westminster for its self-inflicted failures too numerous to list and which have cost the people of Scotland billions of pounds.
Scottish furlough cash is coming from Westminster and English taxpayers and is a scheme which an independent Scotland could never afford. A thank you to Westminster would not go amiss.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian
Amid the rancour and recriminations over the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, former Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford provides some real insight and military analysis (Perspective, 19 August). He is certainly right to focus on the intricate links of tribe and kinship in that troubled country. It leads to what seem to be split loyalties but may, in fact, be simply an affinity among various groups that cuts across the military divide. There was no real commitment in the Afghan army to defeating the Taliban because the main loyalty is to the tribe and the community.
Mr Crawford draws the valid conclusion that when you add into this corruption , lack of resources and real drive there could never seem to be an objective that those forces thought was worthwhile. The Taliban, by contrast, knew exactly what they wanted to achieve and had put in place the resources and materials to achieve it. As the Nato forces withdrew, arguably there could be only one winner.
In a radio broadcast some months before he became prime minister in 1940, Winston Churchill said: “Very few wars have been won by mere numbers alone. Quality, will power, geographical advantages, natural and financial resources, the command of the sea, and above all a cause which rouses the spontaneous surgings of the human spirit in millions of hearts – these have proved to be decisive factors in the human story.”
In some ways the Taliban have twisted that rhetoric towards their own perverse ends. It remains a mystery as to why the intelligence resources not just of Nato, but other powers, failed to see not just the Taliban supremacy but the imminent collapse in the morale of government forces,
When the history of this dreadful affair is written, let's hope the cause of that intelligence failure is fully exposed.
Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife
The governments of the USA and its allies have expressed surprise at the speed with which the Taliban have taken control of Afghanistan.
I do not share that surprise. The USA spent much effort and money in providing military training for those living in Afghanistan who supported its aims of moving the country to take up a way of life much closer to that existing in the West than their traditional way of life.Unfortunately and inadvertently, training was simultaneously being given to those who were members of the Taliban or who supported them.
The training showed how to conduct a war of resistance against a local insurgent group, learning to operate in secret to avoid identification or defeat by a determined enemy equipped with the full range of modern military resources. The numbers being so trained necessarily were unknown to the USA.We in the UK must recognise that a sizeable proportion of the population of Afghanistan is still reluctant to abandon its traditional way of life, though many of the features of that tradition are repugnant to us. It is a continuation of that tradition which the Taliban says it offers.Magnus Peterson, Dunblane, Stirling
The mission in Afghanistan was not to create a Jeffersonian democracy. It was to ensure a pragmatic government which did not provide sanctuary for terrorists determined to destroy the West.
That was working quite well until President Joe Biden’s incompetent, unconditional retreat handed it over to our enemies who will create an Islamist militant haven.
He blames everyone but himself and claims he had no option because of the agreement Donald Trump signed with the Taliban. But the Taliban violated that agreement so he didn’t need to follow it. He has reversed almost all his predecessor’s treaties but apparently Afghanistan was the one place where he had no choice but to follow "Trumpian" policies.
In fact Trump promised a withdrawal based on conditions on the ground, but Biden explicitly rejected a conditions-based withdrawal. By announcing he was getting out no matter what they did, he gave the Taliban a green light.
He insists his hasty exit is not comparable to the US departure from Saigon. That’s absolutely true – it’s very much worse.
(Dr) John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife
On 28 June you printed my letter challenging SNP supporters thus: “An independent Scotland would become a disastrous basket case because Nicola Sturgeon’s promised Utopia would be impossible to finance, cut off from the flow of cash from the UK. Scotland would, in fact, go bankrupt. Nevertheless, some Nationalist might be able to prove me wrong by providing facts and figures in support of the financial viability of an independent Scotland.”
Deafening silence ensued, as it did following other letters in similar vein. Now, in the face of even further increases of UK largesse blessing Scotland with ever rising income per head than England – £1.828 per person greater than the UK average, despite which our Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, firstly blames the UK claiming “fiscal position was the result of how we are governed by the UK”, and having a deficit was “not a barrier to any country being independent”.
This amounts to mind-boggling chutzpah on a grand scale.
David Hollingdale, Edinburgh
I enjoy Mary Thomas's Indy Fun Facts letters. Wildly impressed by her claim that "97 per cent of the electricity Scotland uses comes from renewables" I decided to check this on the Gridwatch website.
The actual use of wind, which represents 73 per cent of Scotland's renewable capacity, across the UK, which (I also checked) still includes Scotland, was 1.84 per cent of total demand and output. Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGT) provided 49.9 per cent and the other main renewable sources, solar and biomass, around 17 per cent of energy demand. Hydro supplied 0.68 per cent. In the past 12 months wind has never supplied more than 15 per cent of the country's power. The 97 per cent quote comes from the Scottish Renewables website and what it really means is that renewables have the capacity to produce 97 per cent of Scotland's electricity, assuming the price is right, the wind is blowing and the sun is shining.
I can only hope that if Scotland does pull the plug and become independent it is still able to access the National Grid and its CCGT and nuclear-fuelled electricity.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
I know poetry does not have to rhyme, I was taught about blank verse in school many years ago. Rhyming poetry does however have a rhythm and flow which makes pleasant reading, and one has to admire the skill of the poet when they can convey a message, tell a story or paint a mind picture in rhyme.For me a poem, blank verse or rhyming, has to be coherent, comprehensible, uplifting or inspiring, descriptively beautiful or perhaps even humorous.I have to say that I could not discern any of these qualities in the piece reproduced in Brian Ferguson’s column on the Makar (Perspective, 19 August ). Perhaps “The Wishing Tree” was not Kathleen Jamie’s best work. I will not rush to judgement, however, and intend to read her collection The Bonniest Company before deciding whether she justifies the title of Makar.Graham Hammond, East Calder, West Lothian
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