We’re a nation of unions, not a union of nations- Readers' Letters

In his New Year speech, Sir Keir Starmer described the United Kingdom twice as a “union of nations”. As a lawyer, he will know that this is not strictly correct, and that we are actually a nation of unions.

The Union flag combines the crosses of the three countries united under one Sovereign - the kingdoms of England and Wales, of Scotland and of Ireland (now Northern Ireland)
The Union flag combines the crosses of the three countries united under one Sovereign - the kingdoms of England and Wales, of Scotland and of Ireland (now Northern Ireland)

Wales formed a union with England in 1536. Scotland and England formed their union in 1707 to form Great Britain, and Ireland formed a union with Britain in 1801, to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, now Great Britain and Northern Ireland. On top of this, we had the Union of Crowns in 1603.

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These unions caused all sides to give up some power and influence for the greater good, and by and large, they have all survived the passage of time.

There is of course a lot of ambiguity about these things, with “country” and “nation” being applied to the whole or the constituent parts, and nobody complains about this as they help us to rub along together, but it would be good to see politicians with some real sense about how our current arrangements actually came about.

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The Labour Party in particular should understand the value and obligations of being in a union and what that means. If they don’t understand or believe in this, then you do have to wonder what it is they do actually believe in.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross

Radio accents

Derek Farmer (Letters, 4 January) rightly urges an improvement to Radio Scotland programmes. They could also pay attention to the choice of contributors, as many have local accents that are almost unintelligible, even to the trained Scots ear.

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Radio is also sensitive to voice pitch, and some presenters have voices whose levels do not broadcast well. Radio Scotland is in fact losing its once-familiar and welcoming "sound”.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Perth and Kinross

Blair’s ‘lies’

Let me try to set the record straight on Tony Blair and the Iraq war.

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In the modern world no country could secretly develop a nuclear weapons capability. The Blair government was of course fully aware of this and, to my recollection, did not ever directly accuse Iraq of such an activity – it knew only too well that there was none. The phrase invariably employed was "weapons of mass destruction", which is also used to describe chemical weapons and, as every man and his dog at the time knew, Saddam Hussein had such and indeed had already employed chemical weapons against some of his own people, so no lies were actually told.

The real deceit of Blair and his cabinet was that they were fully aware that the phrase would be interpreted by the general public, egged on by much of the media, as applying to nuclear weapons development. Unfortunately, according to remarks recently made in this and other newspapers, this belief still appears to be held.

Dr A McCormick, Terregles, Dumfries and Galloway

Size does matter

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Political parties are notoriously reluctant to reveal membership figures, but in 2019 the House of Commons Library published the number of SNP members as 125,000 and many more have joined since. Recently Peter Duncan, formerly chairman of the Scottish Conservatives, let the cat out of the bag and put the number of Scottish Conservative Party members at about 5,000.

This means that party policy and choice of candidates for election are determined by what is little more than a clique, so it’s little surprise that the Scottish Conservatives follow an undeviating unionist line and seldom break ranks on any issue..

In contrast the SNP, with 25 times the number of members in Scotland, has a structure that embraces a wide variety of views which are freely and openly expressed and fed forcefully to the party leadership. It is not surprising that with such a huge membership, there are diverse opinions on many subjects, including the route to independence.

This is democracy working at its best, though sadly it also lays the SNP open to nit picking and sniping comment from a largely hostile media. Nevertheless, it is in this broad church approach that the strength of the SNP lies and which will carry the country to Independence.

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Elizabeth Buchan-Hepburn, Edinburgh

Bubbling under

Clearly, D Jamieson lives inside a misinformation bubble. He bemoans “economic misery” and says that we will be getting more of it (Letters, 3 January). Don’t they have a Covid crisis in Dundee? Where else does he think that this misery imposed on us by the SNP comes from?

There have been no empty supermarket shelves that I have seen in any of several supermarkets I have shopped in since 2020. Which ones does he use? Any shortages have been due to the Europe-wide shortages of HGV drivers, which are bigger over there than over here, incidentally.

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The “struggling post-Brexit GB economy”, as he puts it was the fastest-expanding economy in the G7 in 2021 and will be again this year. As to the “cost of living catastrophe” he refers to, “If you are arriving from a European country, you will likely find living costs in the UK around average relative to the other major European nations like France, Germany, and Italy,” as the UK Immigration Service explains.

Soaring energy costs can be firmly put at the door of the SNP allowing yet more useless, expensive, foreign-built wind farms to destroy our landscapes which cost billions and not investing in British-built, local, nuclear power stations. Rather than “thinking Scots”, these wind turbines are supported by dimwits.

Luckily, unlike Northern Ireland, we are not subject to EU regulations we could do nothing about.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

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Brian’s Brexit

As a former Brexit Party MEP, may I suggest Brian Monteith uses his next column to list the benefits of the UK leaving the EU? Despite the huge increases in red tape and punitive changes to trade regulations which kicked in on January 1, he fails to even mention Brexit in his first column of 2022. How odd.

Like so many businesses all over the country, however, I can see nothing but economic catastrophe in the years to come as a result of the lies told by Brian and Boris’s respective parties during the referendum campaigns.

Should he wish to console us with the triumphs of Brexit, I suspect he will not need his usual article length after he mentions the return of blue passports and crown logos on pint glasses. Cheers Brian!

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D Mitchell, Edinburgh

Abuse truth

I read with dismay Jane Bradley’s article about the death threats and abuse which MSP Karen Adam has received following her comments about abusers on Twitter (Scotsman, 4 January). It was quite obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that Ms Adam was pointing out that abusers don’t have signs hanging from their necks reading, “I am an abuser”.

I am a retired psychiatric nurse, and worked in the acute sector. I was also a trained counsellor dealing with victims of sexual abuse. The damage done to these women was profound, and long-lasting. I can verify Ms Adam’s claim that family members, and other people well known to their victims, are statistically more likely to be abusers than strangers. It’s not difficult to understand – they have easy access to vulnerable children.

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Those who prey on children for their own twisted sexual gratification live amongst us. They could be anyone, as their victims would confirm. An abuser uses threats and emotional blackmail to silence victims and this strategy ensures that they will maintain that silence, and live in perpetual fear of their abuser.

If people refuse to accept the truth about those who abuse, they will ignore, or not even detect, the desperate signals emitted by these sad children.

Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Sun is in control

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We know that, on average, one quarter of the Sun's energy sent to Earth goes to evaporating water into water vapour and represents an enormous amount of heat energy. Water, changing back and forth between liquid and vapour, moves vast quantities of heat around the Earth to control its temperature.

Carbon dioxide (CO2), on the other hand, is always a gas in conditions found on the Earth. It has no physical effect on the Earth's temperature. CO2 is so inert we use it for fire extinguishers. Nevertheless it enters the biosphere and is essential to provide our food.The sun provides the light that combines CO2 with water vapour in the presence of chlorophyll in the leaves of plants.

Thus, as you see, the Sun is in control of our lives.

Charles Wardrop, Perth, Perth and Kinross

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SNP propaganda

The SNP’s claim that Scots pay and average £840 a year less in taxes and statutory charges than our counterparts in the rest of the UK (Scotsman, 4 January) is a revelation.

MSP Rona Mackay is not slow to praise the policies of the SNP for this benefit. It’s therefore a bit puzzling as to why we still suffer from a high degree of child poverty and fuel poverty, and see many struggle to pay the fewer and lower bills that our impoverished cousins have to live with.

Unfortunately I imagine there will be some levelling of bills when councils are forced to raise local taxation to cope with their budget "increase” that the Finance Minister insists she gave them. The SNP and finance are uneasy bedfellows and, given that there are local elections in the offing, I can only surmise that 2022 will see a tsunami (to use a phrase) of inverse propaganda.

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Why am I reminded of the phrase attributed to the past master of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who once said that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth?

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

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