Use the powers

Have your say

UNFORTUNATELY Alex Orr is probably correct when he says that this year’s Holyrood elections will be about Yes and No voters rather than Right and Left (Friends of The Scotsman, 31 December).

This is an admission that current SNP dominance is not based on their record in government or their plans to use the new powers devolved to Holyrood but on the festering grievances created by the referendum. The SNP remain a single issue party committed only to winning independence at any cost and not to using devolved powers to the benefit of all in Scotland. The “disarray” Mr Orr has decided Labour are in is in fact democratic debate, something stifled within the SNP. In Scottish Labour this debate includes using the new tax powers to afford an end to the austerity imposed by the Tories and SNP. A better Scotland is possible if Scots voters forget past and future referendums and embrace devolution properly.

(Dr) SJ Clark Easter Road, Edinburgh

Verse vs verse

The Archbishop of Canterbury claims Jesus was a refugee, “fleeing as a baby with his parents” (The Scotsman, 1 January).

This story comes from Matthew 2:13-15, where an angel told Joseph to take his family to Egypt until Herod died.

However, Luke’s Gospel, which contains the only other birth narrative, knows nothing of this escape, telling us that the family had to move from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Clearly the two versions are incompatible. That is because they were invented separately to give Jesus an origin commensurate with his later deification and to give him a status at least equal to other contemporary saviour gods, from whose own narratives his was probably constructed.

The specific reason for Matthew’s account is revealed in verse 15. The story of a return from Egypt was invented to fulfil the prophecy of Hosea (Hos. 11:1) and to indulge the Alexandrian Jews for whom Matthew wrote.

The Archbishop should know this, yet overlooks it to make a point not justified by Scripture (it is unlikely Jesus was ever a refugee). Except that he came from Galilee, Jesus true origin is not known.

Steuart Campbell

Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Stem the flow

The Scottish Government’s Infrastructure Investment Plan 2015 has 163 pages of the SNP’s investment plans for the next 20 years, their vision for a prosperous, fair and well-connected Scotland. Climate change objectives have their place, as they should, given the global warming we are experiencing, but when it comes to flood defences, £170 million is to be invested in reducing the risk of flooding from sewers – apart from that, nothing.

There is annual funding through the local government settlement, so that local authorities can invest in flood protection, but this is simply outsourcing the problem, not a strategic, co-ordinated, longterm plan.

South of the Border, the Tories continue to promise whatever it takes, while cutting spending on flood defences at the same time. It looks like the SNP intend to follow their example. There is a crying need for more long-term investment in flood protection, but what is the point of the SNP government if, like the Tories, they refuse to spend money to protect citizens .

Phil Tate

Craiglockhart Road, Edinburgh

Bomb’s benefits

The ultimate irony with Brian Quail’s condemnation of Trident (Letters, 31 December) is that only the presence of the UK’s nuclear deterrent has given him and like-minded people the freedom to express the points of view they do.

Had the UK been overrun by Fascist Germany during World War Two, or the Soviet Union in the Cold War era, Mr Quail would be doing his complaining in a gulag, or worse.

Only strong defence and the presence of Trident and its predecessors have kept this country free. I agree the weapons are loathsome and that multi-lateral disarmament is essential. In the meantime, we should be grateful for the freedoms we have and appreciate the presence of Trident in ensuring those freedoms.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Moral maze

Oliver Letwin was right about one thing: “bad moral attitudes” are a factor in the gratuitous violence and wanton destruction rioting entails.

Of course, the dominant “liberal progressive” view is that “unemployment, slum housing and poor education” overwhelm people’s capacity to exercise free will, directly causing rioting. Thus the perpetrators are absolved of personal and collective moral responsibility.

Mr Letwin was merely stating the obvious when he pointed out that not every group of people responds identically to a given set of circumstances, depending on the dominant values shared among a community. Different communities have different moral cultures. Some groupings will be more prone to one vice than others, while a destructive attitude might prevail in others.

I have no wish to defend Mr Letwin’s particular comments about black culture in the 1980s, but criticising the moral values and attitudes of a section of society can be valid, so long as the temptation to over-generalise is resisted.

Attitude and values often have more of an impact on a person’s life chances and well-being than wealth or privilege, yet the Left insist on reducing every problem to their ubiquitous ultimate cause: poverty.

Richard Lucas

Colinton, Edinburgh

Not so green

A Scottish Renewables’ study shows Scots are clocking up thousands of miles on tracks specifically built for wind farms (The Scotsman, 30 December).

They are used by runners, cyclists, walkers and others.

However, this shows how desperate Scottish Renewables are for some good news to offset the fall in subsidies, potential power failures, the millions paid to shut down turbines when not needed and the research disputing the wind industry’s claim to be reducing CO2.

Joss Blamire of Scottish Renewables says: “These activities show how renewable energy developments have benefits way beyond their economic and environmental contributions.”

Many would dispute the “economic and environmental” claims. The industry is less than honest where CO2 emissions are concerned and one example is the Denny to Beauly transmission line costing £820 million.

This line is solely for wind electricity from afar, so the CO2 created should be logged against wind turbines but is studiously ignored.

The activities on wind farm tracks also create CO2 because the people involved have to travel many miles by car to get there. Still think turbines are green?

Clark Cross

Springfield Road, Linlithgow