A very strong message to the effect that public transport should be avoided has been in place for most of the past 12 months, and the apparent switch back to private cars shows that people have taken it to heart.As alternatives to taking buses and trains we are urged to consider walking and cycling, but that is only practical for very short journeys. For instance, I calculate that to cycle from St Andrews to Ardrossan to catch the Arran ferry would take me three days.A very clear rescinding of the “avoid public transport" message needs to be made when tourism is given the go-ahead.
Otherwise, even domestic holidays will be out of reach for anybody who does not have a car; hardly fair, considering the environmental issues, let alone that those of us without cars could also do with a change of scene.
Jane Ann Liston, Largo Road, St Andrews
If in doubt...
Regarding the notion of doing away with the “not proven” verdict, does Scotland want to be just a clone of England or does it want to keep its justice system independent and distinct? As some have pointed out, no one except the accused knows whether or not they are guilty.
Consequently the old Scottish system of proven/not proven was philosophically correct. To get a conviction, the prosecution has to prove its case.Lawyers seem to lean towards returning to “proven/not proven”. That at least would show that Scotland is not just a copy of England and can be more rational in its verdicts.
The public should get used to what the verdicts actually mean.
Steuart Campbell, Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh
Who’s the boss?
In recent weeks and days we have been given some bewildering statements by Conservatives in Scotland and their supporters.
We have been told Boris Johnson will never allow another independence referendum no matter what the result of the May Scottish Parliamentary election; perhaps in another 20 years if there is still a demand but not now.And yet every Conservative leaflet I receive through my letterbox asks me to vote Conservative “to save the Union”. This is followed by a string of criticism of the present SNP government and, finally, only a few vague statements as to how Scotland would be better off with a Conservative government.Now we learn that Lady Davidson is being hauled back from the House of Lords to front a Conservative campaign in Scotland that is clearly going nowhere under the hapless Douglas Ross.
How does this develop confidence in the ability of the Conservatives in Scotland to run our country if they cannot even run their own Party without help from Lady Davidson, whose political base will be 400 miles away in London?After 14 years in government any government will have made mistakes and the one we have now is no exception.
But nothing the SNP government has done matches the gross incompetence of the mishandling of the NHS in England, with billions lost and hundreds of unnecessary deaths, the further billions wasted on useless defence projects, the awarding of multi-million pound contracts to supporters without fair competition, or of planning permission given to cronies against the wishes of local communities, to name just a few.
If you are considering voting Conservative make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for.
Ian McKee, The Cedars, Edinburgh
A Liberal view
Your leader “In search of the magic soundbite” (6 April) states that unionists need to find a clear vision of Scotland's future in the UK.
For more than 100 years the vision of Scotland being part of a Federal United Kingdom or Federation of the British Isles has been Liberal policy. This seems a reasonable solution to the present constitutional debate, but perhaps there is a problem with abbreviations arising from such a vision.
David Hannay, Planetree, Gatehouse of Fleet
Jane Lax (Letters, 6 April) quotes an Institute of Fiscal Studies study on Scotland’s poor fiscal position as part of the UK but ignores last week’s article published by IFS and co-authored by a UK Government economic adviser which states there were no obvious reasons an independent Scotland would not thrive like Slovakia and the Czech Republic, whose GDP grew substantially after independence.
Those who oppose self government need to explain why independent Denmark, Norway and Finland have much larger economies than Scotland under Westminster control.
In 2020 these Nordic countries’ economies fell by around two per cent while the Euro Zone fell by 6.5 per cent, but the UK economy fell by almost ten per cent and in 2021 Scotland's exports have been slashed.
Thanks to Brexit, and Boris Johnson’s poor decisions, the UK’s Covid recovery will be longer and harder than that of most of Western Europe, yet both Labour and the Lib Dems have turned their backs on Europe and only independence will give Scotland an early opportunity to become part of EFTA or rejoin the European Union.
It is nonsense for Gordon Brown and other politicians to claim that the SNP has not been concentrating on Covid recovery as a cursory internet search would reveal numerous Scottish Government publications.
However, another referendum is essential to guarantee that the Scottish Parliament has at its disposal the full range of economic and political powers of a normal country to ensure Scotland’s Covid recovery is tailored to suit Scotland’s specific needs and rescue Scotland from a London Tory Party that wants to bypass our parliament and democracy.
Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh
A tighter EU
An interesting article by Vernon Bogdanor (Perspective, 6 April) on the SNP policy of “independence in Europe”; after all, as an expert in constitutional matters, he should know. The policy is outdated, because the EU itself has evolved into a more organised unit, as many within the SNP will privately admit.
William Ballantine, Dean Road,, Bo'ness, West Lothian
Vernon Bogdanor refers to the union of Scotland with the rest of the UK as a marriage and to the ending of that Union as a divorce. Many may feel that in view of the way the Union was procured and used there never was a true marriage and we should speak of an annulment rather than a divorce.
If an independent Scotland rejoins the EU, it will be joining voluntarily with 27 partners. I doubt whether any of these feel that by being in the EU they cease to be independent sovereign states. As the UK has done recently, any member wishing to "take back control" can leave.
An independent Scotland will be rejoining the world. It may join the EU if the EU wishes it to do so. It may join Norway and Iceland in EFTA and therefore the EEA. In either case, it may hope for a prosperous and constructive future.
David Stevenson, Blacket Place, Edinburgh
What an odd article by Fiona Hyslop (Perspective, 6 April). She says that “Scotland is looking to build bridges with our partners”, which apparently means building border posts with the rest of the UK, which is more than slightly contradictory. Quite how we “expand our influence and amplify our voice” by breaking up the UK is open to discussion, as a little place with five million people carries so much more weight in a nation of 60 million than in a giant bureaucracy of 448 million, like the EU, but that must be obvious even to most of her party supporters.
I am very glad, however, that Ms Hyslop is so impressed by COP26 in which Scotland “can offer the world climate leadership”. That must be the climate change conference organised by the British Government, which the SNP did their best to disrupt by taking over properties that it would otherwise have used. Funny how short the SNP’s collective memory can be! Indeed, by some strange twist of logic, Ms Hyslop accuses the same British Government of being “increasingly insular and isolationist with its post-Brexit vision”. That will be the “inward-looking” UK that has so far signed 60 trade agreements with non-EU countries that have come into effect since January 1st, I assume?
The SNP is fixated on the bureaucratic EU, which is playing its silly games, refusing shellfish that we export on water hygiene grounds, while accepting the same shellfish from the same waters from French boats; closing the Irish border without notifying the Irish; and demanding vaccines from us without using the ones they already have, by the million. How dismally limited they are.
Andrew H N Gray, Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh
The forthcoming by-election at the boringly solid Tory seat of Chesham and Amersham may prove electorally significant as past evidence indicates it could be the first occasion an Official Monster Raving Loony Party (OMRLP) candidate saves their deposit. Years ago, John Craven’s Newsround held mock general elections for all seats on election day, and one curiosity was the regular return of an OMRLP “MP” to Chesham and Amersham, despite never so much as a council seat being contested by a Raving Loony candidate.Of course, children grow up, but one wonders if during the Covid gloom the prospect of brightening up an otherwise foregone conclusion by-election may prove too tempting to some locals?
Mark Boyle, Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire
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