The nationalists’ main argument for leaving the UK appears to be that Boris Johnson and the Tories would have no power over Scottish affairs. This is a rather flimsy stance to take, given that the Tory government could be voted out at the next election.
The Remain side, in a possible Scottish referendum, merely has to set out the disastrous economic consequences of leaving the UK. Pre-Covid Scotland had an annual fiscal deficit of abou t 8 per cent GDP and a trade deficit of between 7 per cent and 12 per cent GDP. It would be essential to reduce these deficits in the short term to avoid national “bankruptcy”. The nationalists have to be honest and tell voters that this would involve higher taxes, cuts to public services and import restrictions (leading to higher prices for food).
The SNP and the Yes groups have no answers to these problems and must address them before any referendum, Scottish or official.
James Quinn, Lanark, South Lanarkshire
Make Gaelic pay
One of the reasons for English taking over from Gaelic in Scotland was Gaelic speakers learning to use money, a new (and appealing) concept in the 12th century. Before the reign of King David I, Scotland had no money. The only part of the kingdom that had currency was the English-speaking south-east, which used the penny.
Seeking to make Scotland a mainstream nation, like the rest of Europe, was based upon King David’s many years at court in England. When he became king of Scotia, he moved English speakers to places like the north-east to establish the use of money there in local markets and burghs. Along with the money came the English language from which Doric descends.
For Gaelic to prosper, there needs to be an economic imperative to make people want to live in the Gàidhealtachd and speak the language. Throwing money at departments of government is pointless. If, however, a major, economic generator was established in (say) Stornoway and used Gaelic as its medium of communication, people would be encouraged to work there and live in a Gaelic-speaking, vital environment, not in a museum. Painting words on police cars in areas that have never used the language is meaningless, gesture politics.
What is needed is for those whose tongue it is to be encouraged to use it, to retain it and to have their children use it at home as well as at school.
Andrew H N Gray, Edinburgh
A colleague of mine who is a respected Gaelic researcher, historian and author, has a pithy phrase to describe the irrational antipathy to the meagre amount of resources expended on the Gaelic language.He calls it "toxic Philistine ignorance", which seems to apply to the comments made by (Dr) RJM Wilson and Pauline Carruthers (Letters, 17 July). The former seems to believe Gaelic is being taught to the exclusion of other languages. The latter gives away the underlying cause for her displeasure and the extent of her ignorance by asking SNP supporters to apologise for a policy enshrined in legislation by a Labour/Liberal Democrat administration. But what is really sad is that, apparently for political reasons, these individuals actually seem to want to see a piece of Scotland's heritage and culture die.Thank you also to Robin Jack (Letters, 19 July) for airing another myth on the "millions" spent on road signs and public vehicles. My understanding is that signage is updated with Gaelic names added when the signage becomes due for renewal. He will be relieved to hear that the cost is minimal, but he has missed the point about the reinforcement of the existence of the language in national consciousness. And why is it we don't hear of resentment of this strategy in Wales?However, on the brighter side, it is encouraging to see that The Scotsman has reinstated its Gaelic column. It was also encouraging to read the supportive and constructive editorial (July 16) which cautioned against superficial tokenism. Scottish Government please note.To allow Ms Carruthers to un-bate her breath, I'm happy to report that throughout the country, thousands of people are learning Gaelic. These include parents who are sending their children to the Gaelic Medium schools, aware of the educational benefits of bi and trilingualism for young students.
Gill Turner, Edinburgh
Not so smart
While enjoying a feast of sport in recent weeks I’ve been struck by the sheer number of people who have been buying tickets and then watching the action through their phone. From tee shots at The Open to serves at Wimbledon, you will see people with their phones out, watching their screens while they are capturing the events taking place. Would it not be better to enjoy what you’ve paid to see in all its glory by using your own eyes and watching the action take place right in front of you?
While smartphones have brought some benefits they do seem to have a grip on many whereby they can’t saviour the moment happening right in front of them without pulling their phone out. Truly experience these moments as they unfold. That’s why you are there.
J Lewis, Edinburgh
Getting it wrong
Thank goodness Nicola Sturgeon did not listen to the Tories on Covid (Douglas Ross, Perspective, 19 July) as we would have ended up with 40 per cent more deaths and 50 per cent more infections compared to England. Scotland’s vaccination roll-out has seen a higher percentage of our population receive their first jag and second dose than in England or Wales. We did not waste £37 billion on a failed test and trace system. Our health and care systems are under strain but again performing much better than their English counterparts.
Boris Johnson is currently steamrolling a Health and Care Bill through parliament which will which further dismantle the NHS in England as a universal, comprehensive, publicly funded and provided service free at the point of delivery. It is an astonishing attempt to allow the Secretary of State, an enlarged NHS England as “rule-maker and regulator”, and new public-private “Integrated Care Boards” to reduce services, limit expenditure, further degrade local accountability and entrench the market.
This proves yet again that Douglas Ross is in no position to give advice to Scotland.
Fraser Grant, Edinburgh
As face-coverings continue to be mandatory in Scotland it is important that the public be informed of their ineffectiveness. According to Dr Colin Axton of Brunel University, a covid viral particle is 100 nanometres in size (a sheet of paper is 100,000 nanometres thick). The gaps in the material of surgical masks are 1,000 times the size of a covid viral particle and the gaps in cloth masks are 500,000 times its size. Wearing a face covering will not stop the virus.
William Loneskie, Oxton, Scottish Borders
I'm sorry, but am I alone in thinking that Boris Johnson has been damned if he does, damned if he doesn't throughout this whole Covid pandemic? Whatever he does, he's either callously "not following the science" when holding firm or showing "weakness" by changing tack when the science demands it.From the outset, there have been those who cared more about business profitability and civil liberties than the potential death toll from a virus caring for neither, and reliant on human selfishness creating new avenues for it to exploit.
If people want to see who's to blame for the Covid pandemic's continuance they, like Dominic Cummings, need only look into a mirror.To the Boris bashers, ask yourselves one question: if Theresa May was still our Prime Minister – or Jeremy Corbyn instead – do you think you'd still be alive today to read this?
Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire
The elephant in the room re: variants of the virus seems to be around the illegal migrants who come across the channel. These people have come from many countries and travelled through many countries, none of which will have vaccinated them. We have various travel rules for holiday travellers. But what happens to ensure that the illegal immigrants are kept in isolation in their boat/dinghy bubble to ensure they are Covid free and vaccinated.
Elizabeth Hands, Armadale, West Lothian
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