Single Unionist candidates is not way the forward - Readers' Letters

Ex-MSP Adam Tomkins is a clever man, but he is quite wrong when he suggests that the only way to displace the SNP is to stand single Unionist candidates against them (Scotsman, 29 December).

Unionist parties should band together to field a sole candidate in each seat against the SNP in elections, says Adam Tomkins
Unionist parties should band together to field a sole candidate in each seat against the SNP in elections, says Adam Tomkins

While I can understand the temptation, the problem with doing this is that we would only reinforce the dividing line that currently exists in Scottish politics, getting us further and further in to a Nationalist vs Unionist rut, from which we are less and less likely to emerge, and we will ultimately all suffer because of that.

What the opposition parties at Holyrood all agree on is that there are plenty of issues in Scotland that are more important than the constitution, and the most effective answer to their dilemma of never being elected is to move the political debate on to different ground. Anyone who has been paying attention to what has been going on in the world in recent years knows what the challenges are, the magnitude of those, and the amount of time it will take to resolve them. The SNP show absolutely no willingness or ability to do this. The constitutional debate is a distraction, and the longer we indulge ourselves in this, the more we get left behind.

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The answer therefore is that the opposition parties need to put forward visions of the future that look coherent, based on their own ethos and philosophy, and take the debate away to another place. If they cannot do that, we have to ask why. Are they unable, unwilling or just lacking in confidence and leadership?

There are plenty of banjos and plenty of barn doors to choose from. It is time they started hitting a few of them.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross

Irish alarm

I was bewildered at the alarmist nonsense of Tory MSP Murdo Fraser and his panic that as he put it "Scotland is turning into Northern Ireland without the killings" (Scotsman, 29 December).

Now most people would put that down to more Project Fear and an attempt by them to get people talking about something other than Tory politicians attending parties and breaking lockdown rules.

However we now have Tory Adam Tomkins calling for Scotland to become Northern Ireland without the killings. Mr Tomkins wants a political system where voters have a choice only between unionist candidates and nationalist candidates.

If anyone was ever in doubt that Scottish Tories are only interested in the constitution and have nothing to offer on everyday issues then they need look no further than Mr Fraser and Mr Tomkins and their obsession with Northern Ireland.

Alex Lunn, Edinburgh

Optimism needed

The USA has cut quarantine time for Covid positive cases to five days. Boris Johnson, in England, has cut quarantine time to seven days and is being urged to reduce further to five. Yet Nicola Sturgeon, in Scotland, continues to throttle the life out of the Scottish economy with a ten-day quarantine (Scotsman, 30 December).

Yes, cases of Omicron are rising but mainly in younger age groups and thankfully hospital admissions and death rates are stable, reflecting the experience of South Africa that Omicron is often mild.

In England, contacts of a Covid positive case can continue their normal life if they have negative lateral flow tests. In contrast, contacts in Scotland must isolate for ten days even if their lateral flows are negative.

Nicola Sturgeon is increasingly out of step, and meantime business, livelihoods and the running of our public services in Scotland suffer. The overly cautious package of restrictions here is damaging Scotland’s economy and the functioning of society.

It is time for a more optimistic strategy.

Dr Bruce Halliday, Dumfries

Out of step

Derek Farmer's letter headlined “SNP insistence on Scots difference is harmful" (29 December) totally misses the point that Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are all pretty-much “in step”, whilst Westminster's rules for England are the ones that are “different” from the other three. Even if that weren't so, perhaps a wee reminder that, in the weeks before the 2014 independence referendum, Scotland was implored to “lead us not leave us”.

Maybe it's time the Westminster government took notice and followed Scotland's lead – that way their Chancellor would surely get the Bank of England to release the necessary funds to support businesses when their ability to trade normally is being hampered by restrictions.

Ian Waugh, Dumfries

Dae as yer telt

John Swinney told BBC Breakfast this week: "People have to make their own choices; they have got to follow the advice we have put in place". So choice, according to the SNP, is to dae as we're telt.

Nicola Sturgeon's address to a virtual parliament (Scotsman, 30 December) was like a primary school teacher addressing a class of eight-year-olds. It was a litany of edicts which have been oft-repeated and of which the public are very aware.

The SNP government's response to the pandemic has changed the relationship between the state and the individual for the worse. The state has become too powerful and the individual too weak. The mark of a democracy is its freedom for citizens to choose how to live their lives.

William Loneskie, Lauder, Scottish Borders

Sunak’s choice

Covid has been an expensive business for the country, and somehow the costs will have to be recouped.

This is the challenge for Chancellor Rishi Sunak, with the obvious source of large amounts of cash for his coffers being the rich, many of whom have profited hugely during the pandemic’.

One of the avenues he investigated was a rise in Capital Gains Tax from 20 per cent to 25 per cent, which, he was advised, could contribute £14 billion per year, hitting, but not too hard, high earners who could well afford it.

Mr Sunak, however, has political ambitions, and, with the Prime Minister’s jaiket on a shoogly peg, there could be a vacancy soon for a bright young man: a bright young man like himself perhaps.

But to achieve his ambition he needs the support of his party, and their wealthy supporters, who would not look kindly on having to pay more tax for the good of the country.

So, a rise in National Insurance it is, hitting the poor the hardest, with minimal effect on the rich. ’Twas ever thus!

Les Mackay, Dundee

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