Readers' Letters: No time for referendum

In relation to your Editorial comment saying that Boris Johnson’s refusal of a second referendum is just ridiculous (15 October), it is plainly obvious that despite the SNP’s claim to have a mandate for it, there is going to be no referendum within this parliament.

Will Boris Johnson go along with SNP's pleas for IndyRef2?

We don’t know who will be elected next year. We don’t even know if there will be an election, because how can people engage with the debate under the current circumstances?

Why, then, would the Prime Minister spend political energy on this when there is so much more going on, and, let’s be honest about this, it is he who is having to make the really big decisions at present, not Nicola Sturgeon, who can be as cautious as she pleases knowing she doesn’t have to pay for it all.

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If and when the time comes, we all need to remember that we have had two referendums in the last six years, neither of which has addressed the issue at hand, and both of which have made things worse. We cannot therefore have another referendum here on the same basis, irrespective of the outcome, and expect a result that is any more definitive.

If there is a next time, we need to know in advance what Indy really looks like, we need the Leave/Remain option which has been shown to be fairer than Yes/No, and if the 55:45 result in 2014 was not definitive, then the winning threshold must, by the SNP’s own argument, be more than that.

And we cannot have a fair election if the one side who wants Indy at all costs is organising the vote.

You mention the prospect of violence in your Editorial, the first time I have seen this in a mainstream newspaper. What would cause that? The constant ratcheting up of divisive nationalist rhetoric in the midst of a global pandemic? It’s time we all engaged our brains if we are genuinely interested in a better tomorrow.

Victor Clements

Aberfeldy, Perthshire


I refer to the letter from Gill Turner in today’s Scotsman (14 October). Ms Turner attempts to justify Margaret Ferrier’s behaviour in travelling to Scotland from Westminster after her diagnosis with Covid-19 on the basis that MPs with Covid symptoms were told to go home immediately. She further states that Ms Ferrier does not have a London home, the implication being that she had no alternative but to return to Scotland. Does this not beg the question of where Ms Ferrier resides whenever she is attending Parliament in London?

Further, Ms Turner ignores the fact that the journey from London to Glasgow was actually the second transgression by Ms Ferrier, as she travelled from Glasgow to London after experiencing symptoms of Covid and having had a test. She accordingly should have immediately gone into self-isolation.

If she had complied with the regulations at this point there would have been no need for her to get on public transport to return to Glasgow, thereby putting others’ lives and health at risk for a second time .

I note Ms Turner’s statement that none of the people calling for Ms Ferrier’s head were at all outraged by Dominic Cummings’ conduct. I find it hard to believe that Nicola Sturgeon, who has called for Ms Ferrier’s resignation, was not outraged, given that she insisted that Chief Medical Officer of Scotland, Catherine Calderwood, resign when she broke the rules. In any event, is it not the height of hypocrisy for Ms Ferrier to remain in post when she herself was one of the voices calling for Dominic Cummings’ resignation?

Kate Marshall

Gilmerton Road, Edinburgh

Outrage there was

There were more than 10,000 retweets of a tweet calling for both Margaret Ferrier and Dominic Cummings to resign. Meanwhile, Ms Ferrier herself called for the Prime Minister's adviser to go in May for a lesser offence – he did not travel by public transport. Unfortunately, it appears too much to hope that she would follow her own advice.

Could I ask Gill Turner-– indeed, all contributors – in future to provide proof of their outlandish claims?

Martin Foreman

Craigend Park, Edinburgh

Who’s a jackal?

Gill Turner refers to letters from Dr RW Wild and Michael Baird as “joining the pack” of “jackals continuing to circle around [Margaret Ferrier]” whilst still acknowledging the “grave error of judgment” committed by that lady, and goes on to assert that “none of the people calling for Ms Ferrier’s head were at all outraged by the conduct of Dominic Cummings”. Really? I am by no means alone in deploring Dominic Cummings’ behaviour, but what he did pales into insignificance by comparison with Margaret Ferrier’s behaviour, but now she presents herself as a victim, not a miscreant.

Gill Turner’s past correspondence suggests she is a firm supporter of Nicola Sturgeon. However, Ms Sturgeon has strongly advised Ms Ferrier to resign, which Ms Ferrier flatly refuses to do. It must follow that, in Ms Turner’s view, the First Minister must be a member of the “pack of jackals circling around” Ms Ferrier.

David Hollingdale

Easter Park Drive, Edinburgh

Trumped-up PM

Is Boris Johnson becoming more like Donald Trump when he blusters and proposes to make Britain great again and "the greatest place on earth"? He has also hired a £100,000 per year spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, for White House-style press briefings, thus saving him answering any detailed questions.

Incidentally, I was fascinated to learn where the term "Tory" came from, relative to the Conservative Party. Apparently the word came into being in mid-17th century Ireland and is a derivative of the Irish Gaelic “Toraidh”, which means plunderer, robber, thief or barbarian – perfectly in tune with the Johnson/Cummings London orchestra!

Grant Frazer

Cruachan, Newtonmore

Dim politicians

There is a simple explanation as to why politicianshave such difficulty with coronavirus. Almost none of them arescientists. In the same way that climate change trumps all politicians, Covid-19 does the same, only much more quickly. They rush in vain to the few experts on pandemics only to find it is ridiculously easy to ignore them once they have made their recommendations.

Why? Because few politicians have even heard the word “exponential”, let alone tried to understand what it means. And so, rather than act decisively as a trained scientist would,they dither and put off the decision until it is too late. They are paralysed by lack of knowledge because the time it takes to absorb the workings of pandemics is longer than the development of a crisis. Always at the back of the mind of a politician is the knowledge that they are “democratically” elected, whereas the “experts” are not and so can be safely disregarded.

How wrong they are! Probably the only way to solve this problem is to employ at least one scientist per ten politicians to act as translator for this new “foreign” language with which the political world is suddenly forced to deal.

This solution is probably too late now, so we can look forward to more disasters, like the looming Brexit. This will rightly be thrown back in the faces of the politicians who produced it, together with a reminder that 37.5 per cent never was a majority, nor the will of the “British People”, whoever they might be.

Henryk Belda

Kirkton Bank, Penicuik

One law for us...

Why is it that the legislation that has emanated from the SNP is so harsh? They have tried to have our children taken under state guardianship which, thank heavens, was ruled "totalitarian" by the Supreme Court and so the Named Person Scheme is no more.

We have now got a hate crime bill which will penalise freedom of expression. It seems that someone simply has to perceive an expression (how about "Scotch", or "gypsy" as descriptive terms that some, though not all, may find objectionable?) for it to be deemed offensive, only to find the boys in blue knocking at their door and a penalty of several years in prison for those found guilty.

We are also very soon to enjoy the crackdown on smacking children which any normal parent does only when absolutely necessary. However, those same loving parents will be criminals next month, thanks to the bill which only the Conservatives opposed, like most other restrictive SNP legislation.

However, when it comes to dealing with their own people – think Derek Mackay and Margaret Ferrier, to name but two – they seem to be incapable of cleaning out their own stable.

Clearly, there is one law for us and another for them.

Peter Hopkins

Morningside Road, Edinburgh

Rail stories

When there were two big railway stations in central Edinburgh, there was good reason to name one of them Waverley.

As the other one, Princes Street, is gone, there is no point in keeping a qualifying name – which might suggest it is a suburban station. Arriving there by rail I have been asked by strangers who noticed the platform name board “Waverley” if this was the main Edinburgh station – or should they stay on the train?

It seems so obvious that stations should be named for the convenience of travellers, not for the satisfaction of historians, or local people who protest: “But it’s always been called Waverley!”

Actually, it has been named “Edinburgh General”, also “North Bridge”, with a station next door called “Canal Street”, over which the Waverley Market was built – which may have given its name to this station in the 1870s.

Imagine arriving at a station in Portsmouth called “Oliver Twist”, or at one in Prague called “Schweik”.

Are we there yet?

Harry Jack

Dundas Street, Edinburgh

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