We need pragmatists to replace Brexit zealots - Readers' Letters

Tim Flinn asserts that Brexit is an unfinished project yet to show its potential solely because of incompetent government (Letters, January 4).

Boris Johnson's cabinet is full of fervent Brexiteers

Surely the present regime is so hopeless simply because only fervent Brexiteers were chosen for ministerial rank, on that criterion, and no other.

No future government seeking a sound economic performance could contemplate going on with a dogmatic Brexit in its extreme, Johnsonian form. Not a single benefit from leaving the EU has been demonstrated by those who voted Leave, unless you count Edwina Currie’s pleasure that it is now possible to “stick two fingers up to Brussels”.

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For any hope of success, the next government must facilitate political efficiency through pragmatism, not zealotry, and proper international relations through patient, realistic cooperation, rather than the aggressive,"two fingers" nationalism seen of late.

Such a course would rule out any future administration dominated by another group of Brexit extremists, as it would fail for exactly the same reasons as this one – a harmful obsession with an outdated and untenable world view to the exclusion of sensible political management.

Mr Flinn acknowledges that rising energy prices, immigration, and unemployment are problems we share with our EU neighbours. Why then not work in common with them to find joint solutions?

One other point. He makes the usual complaint about the lack of democratic legitimacy of EU leaders. Yet wasn’t former cabinet minister Lord David Frost’s critical role in the UK’s withdrawal performed as an unelected bureaucrat?

Anthony O’Donnell, Edinburgh

Murdo’s views

It seems that either wilfully or through ignorance, elected members of the Scottish Conservatives are undermining public health messages.

The latest example is Murdo Fraser stating that Scotland having registered 20,000 positive cases means that the restrictions imposed here are not working (Scotsman, 5 January). He makes no observation on what the infection rate might have been without restrictions. He calls the situation in Scotland “Draconian” and compares it unfavourably to England, where more than 136,000 infections were recorded on 3 January, increasing to more than 148,000 the following day. He has nothing to say on the fact that hospitalisations have doubled in England and Scotland in a week.

He has plenty to say about an incident in Glasgow, where he says that six police vans arrived at a pub because someone was seen dancing through the window. Clearly, he has not viewed the footage of this incident or reviewed the fact of it, or he would know this was nonsense at every level. No, his preference is to dishonestly imply that the police were acting at the behest of the First Minister.

The rest of us are left to wonder when the Conservatives moved from being the party of law and order and when it became alright for columnists to veer from offering opinions to punting misinformation?

Gill Turner, Edinburgh

Work together

Yet again, the First Minister ably demonstrates how her Covid decisions and policies have been driven by narrow minded nationalism and political dogma.

She has endeavoured at every turn to offer a “different” solution to policies in England but now she has had, yet again, to follow England in changing the ten-day isolation period to seven days (Scotsman, 6 January).

No matter that she cratered the hospitality industry over the festive period and no matter that she jumped down the throat of a journalist for having the temerity to ask whether she would consider cutting the isolation period just a short time ago!

One of the major lessons to come out of this pandemic is that the four nations of the UK must work in concert in the future and not in isolation and therefore remove the opportunity for the heads of the devolved administrations to “showboat “ at the expense of business and people’s livelihoods.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

The key question

James Scott (Letters, 5 January) gave us a long and complex account containing a lot of wide -ranging statistics supporting the claim that financially, an independent Scotland would be better off out of the UK. I was reminded of the old lawyers' ploy of “complicate to obfuscate”.

A lot of us who are trying to make up our minds on this issue would be better served by a simple, honest and believable answer to one simple question: "How would an independent Scotland have coped with the pandemic over the last two years without the billions of pounds poured into the Scottish economy by the UK Treasury?"

Remember we would have been a nation very much divided on the issue of independence. A nation with no currency of our own, existing financial problems, no central bank, sources of income (oil, gas and hospitality) dwindling alarmingly, cut adrift from our largest market with no immediate prospect of joining the EU and with a government whose pre-pandemic record on the domestic front was hardly impressive.

Before anyone suggests that as an independent country we would have had unlimited capacity to borrow , they should reflect that an independent country with the problems described above would not have found it easy to borrow on the enormous scale that would have been necessary, and even if this had been achieved somehow, the level of debt and the repayment required would have scuppered our economy for years. Is this what we really want?

D Mason, Penicuik, Midlothian

Making waves

I agree with Derek Farmer’s comments (Letters, 4 January) that Radio Scotland needs a change in the structure of programming. I think the content is very narrow; almost dumbed down and doesn’t reflect contemporary Scotland, a multi-cultural country. I do think news coverage and balance is mostly very good but I don’t rate the phone-in programme very highly.

Why are there no plays? I have heard plays on Radio 4 that have been produced in Scotland. Why can’t they be heard on Radio Scotland. Why is there no novel being serialised every day? I remember a few years ago enjoying hearing Peter May’s Trilogy set on Lewis. Why don’t we hear poetry which reflects the different dialects and ethnicity found in the country today?

Why can’t there be some classical music during the morning rather than have it “in a box” on a Sunday evening? I do enjoy the variety of the Culture Show, however.

And there are far, far too many hours are devoted to football – six or seven hours on a Saturday or Sunday is much too long!

Nancy Millar, Drumbeg, Highland

Ireland revisited

In his enthusiasm for Scotland to ape Ireland's model of public service broadcasting, Fraser Grant (Letters, 5 January) seems unaware that Irish television and radio is owned and controlled by the state.

Independent news and current affairs programmes do not exist, and broadcasts are subject to government censorship. Rarely do Irish politicians (especially those of the ruling party) experience intense and thorough questioning on Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ). This might explain why so many Irish political journalists are household names in the UK and work for the BBC instead.

So is Mr Grant advocating government ownership of the airwaves? We can all imagine what SNP-controlled broadcasting would be like.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Learning lessons

It seems a long time since Nicola Sturgeon proclaimed in Holyrood, "Judge me on education because the future depends on it" – or words to that effect.

Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie has been doing some digging into the actual status of education under this government and the standing of those who we entrust to deliver it.

77 per cent of newly qualified primary teachers last year were not offered permanent posts. These are the people who have studied for four years, at our expense, and are then faced with the uncertainty of starting out on their career in temporary contracts. Is this really what our investment in education amounts to?

Permanent posts have been declining steadily over the time of this SNP government. Why? The answer is to be found in the settlement to councils, who are of course the employers of teachers. Kate Forbes did not even bother to include news of the council block grant in her budget, which is in itself quite amazing. However, it is clear that the decline in secure teaching posts simply illustrates the starvation rations on which local government is forced to exist.

This First Minister is all about statements and promises. A weak fail on delivery.

Alison Fullarton, Eyemouth, Scottish Borders

Taxing times

The revelation that Scots pay less in taxes than elsewhere in the UK (Scotsman, 4 January) should not come as a surprise.

The latest available figures for income tax, council tax, water bills, medical charges and tuition fees show that in comparison to England, Scots pay an average of £840 a year less. Compared with Wales, people in Scotland pay almost £500 less; and if university tuition fees are included the figure balloons to £10,000.

As an example, in Scotland the average Band D Council Tax is £590 lower than England and £423 lower than Wales, while the average household water bill in Scotland is £33 lower than in England and Wales.

At a time when Brexit is exacerbating the UK’s cost of living crisis, more impending tax increases by this Tory government on national insurance simply add to this costly burden. While the Tories portray themselves as the party of low taxation, they are in truth anything but.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

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