The UK is 2050, China maybe 2060 and India maybe 2070. Edinburgh council taxpayers would suggest that the council should stick to the numerous day-to-day problems they have and not venture into areas where they can make very little difference.
On second thoughts a trip by Councillor McVey to China and India could prove fruitful.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow
Ne’er the Twain
Les Reid’s letter of January 2 cannot go unanswered. He describes the SNP’s claim that an independent Scotland would ‘blow £350 million on unnecessary duplicates’ in setting up Scottish embassies.
If the UK were to break up, there would be a settlement, just as in the liquidation of a partnership. At present the real estate value of the British embassy in Washington is estimated as being in excess of $31 million. The value of the British Ambassador’s residence in Rome will also run into millions while the residence in Paris, the Hôtel de Charost, will probably dwarf the Washington embassy. In addition, Britain’s embassies in France and Italy each have real estate values which are likely to match that of Washington.
These, and all the British embassies, are owned partly by Scotland. If we assume that the Scottish holdings in UK plc are between 8 and 9 per cent, the value of all UK assets, including the embassies, would form part of the settlement. It is possible that this would reach, if not surpass, the £350m the SNP is proposing to set aside. Naturally other assets such as aircraft carriers, fighter jets and Whitehall offices would also be included in the settlement. A similar exercise would need to be undertaken regarding UK plc’s liabilities.
An independent Scotland could then form Mark Twain deals with other nations whereby access to diplomatic contacts could be done reciprocally; just as two 'Mark Twain' households do each other’s laundry and charge for it. This is what happens with the Scandinavian nations’ dealings with countries with whom the opening of an embassy would be too expensive for the benefit it would provide.
In Eritrea, the British embassy is a secure villa and the ambassador’s residence is a fine house; neither of which comes anywhere close to the opulence of Paris. Ten years ago, I attended two embassy receptions at the residence where several delegates were representing more than one country.
Dr Francis Roberts, Edinburgh
Flight of fancy
Les Reid obviously didn’t read the Freedom of Information request published in December that reported the total 2021-22 budget allocated by the Scottish Government on all offices abroad was £6m and not the fanciful £350m quoted in his letter (January 2).
This should be compared to the UK Scotland Office which spent over £9m in 2021. The Scotland Office should be almost redundant since devolution yet its staffing levels and spending has escalated year on year since 2014 much of this on attacking the Scottish government at taxpayers’ expense.
The unelected House of Lords costs us £50m a year and last year Lord George Foulkes claimed £64,643 and Lord Jack McConnell £62,157. Also, the daily attendance allowance of £323 is tax free.
Scottish taxpayers are also having to fork out for repairs to Westminster which are now estimated at £14 billion, three times the original estimate. When you add the £37bn the Tories wasted on their failed NHS Test and Trace system plus £1200 per person for Brexit and its related increased prices, this shows that we can’t afford the cost of the Union.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh
With recent polling showing over 70 per cent of younger voters being in favour of independence, I was reminded of a pre-Brexit conversation with retirees in the south of England who, unlike ourselves, were going to vote ‘leave’ – but told us that their own adult offspring wanted to remain in the EU. When I suggested that we, reasonably comfortable with our works pensions making it likely that, Brexit or no Brexit, we'd probably be fine, perhaps we could just let that younger generation have their way? Our friends’ response was “but they only want to stick with the EU because they can't remember anything else”.
So here we are in Scotland, where an even bigger majority of 'youngsters' are in favour of independence than are against – and it's we ‘oldies’ who want to hold them back? Might that be because ‘Britain/UK’ is all we can remember? As in “it's always been there”?
Many who are already retired are probably, like ourselves, reasonably comfortably off and, Independence or no Independence, will undoubtedly ‘get by fine’ at worst – and maybe, as the more positive voices for Scotland suggest, will be even better off than now. As most folk do also accept that independence is inevitable 'at some point', perhaps we should enable those younger folk to get started on that new project, sooner rather than later.
Ian Waugh, Dumfries
Aberdeen is buzzing with rumours of major oil companies downsizing and quitting Aberdeen City and the North Sea in favour of other countries where they will be made welcome.
The SNP/Green Parties rejoiced in seeing Shell pull out of the Cambo oil development West of Shetland which is now on hold owing to the current adverse political attitude of the Scottish Government.
Many thousands of North Sea jobs are now threatened with the current message being sent out by a Scottish Government who should be hell bent trying to create Scottish jobs… Scotland Deserves Better.
Dennis Forbes Grattan, Aberdeen
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