ONE of the most depressing features of the independence campaign in 2014 was the “It’s Scotland’s oil” theme. Scotland joined the Union as a doughty, independent nation but one which, nevertheless, at that time was bankrupt and continued to burn witches and hang heretics.
Within a few years after union our nation had commenced its great Enlightenment and remains today as part of the world’s fifth-largest economy which happens also to be a beacon of hope in a world increasingly threatened by powerful tyrannies. How disappointing it was then that some of our number thought that they had spotted an opportunity of oil riches and sought to depart the Union on the strength of a natural resource that happened to lie beneath Scottish waters. I felt shame that that policy was put forward in Scotland’s name.
Thankfully, in 2014, the majority chose a more rational way forward. Ironically, the oil asset morphed into a liability and, again, the strength of the Union was called upon to address the collapse of the oil economy.
Now, however, William Thomson presents again the oil argument in the form of “It’s Scotland’s wind” (Letters, January 26). The proposal that we remain in the Union until there is a chance that we might make some extra money by pulling out, as well as having been proven fallacious in the case of oil, remains wholly unworthy of a self-respecting people.
I have no doubt that many of the proponents of independence are by no means unworthy and have the highest of motives in seeking what they envisage to be the best future for Scotland. Nevertheless their aspiration cannot escape association and condemnation with those who seek to walk away from a centuries-old Union that has served the nation and the world very well because they think they have spotted a financial windfall in doing so.
Michael Sheridan, by Strachur, Argyll.
ALARM BELLS OVER THE NORTH SEA
THE current debacle resulting from the new law requiring all households to install linked alarms shows why all of Scotland should be worried by the SNP’s apparent hostility towards the North Sea oil and gas industry. Its interpretation of a “just transition” from hydrocarbon-based to “green” is not just a threat to jobs and the local economy of the north-east.
Though the two issues appear unrelated, there are important similarities in that both require money, time, raw materials, manufactured products, and equipment installation.
The law was originally to come into effect in February 2021 but was delayed a year due to Covid, an inadequate public awareness campaign, shortages of material, import lead time and installation competence. As the new deadline approached it was apparent that we were still a long way from compliance. This prompted the Scottish Government to issue vague assurances that this will not result in prosecution – leaving householders to worry about whether insurers will pay out in the event of a fire damage claim for a non-compliant property. The Government had misjudged the complexity of implementing even a modest change within a self-imposed deadline.
Absurd as this failure is, its scale and consequences are negligible compared to failing to achieve energy transition before current domestic supplies deplete, leaving us increasingly hostage to imports.
The effort and resources needed for Scotland’s smoke alarms were miniscule compared to the monumental worldwide competition for the raw materials (including oil and gas), finance, expertise and hardware that will be required to achieve net zero. The SNP lack of joined-up thinking on joined-up alarms, coupled with its multiple failures and overruns on projects ranging from new ferries to bottle deposit schemes, should set alarm bells ringing across the country.
Mark Openshaw, Aberdeen.
UNIONISTS PLAYED INDYREF CARD
ALEX Gallagher (Letters, January 29) appears to offer a choice “between another referendum or more social workers and an end to bed-blocking”. The problem with this is that the former – on the basis of the 2014 vote, costing £15 million – won’t go much of the way to the latter, given that it is the smallest fraction of one per cent of the Scottish Government’s annual budget of £54,897.9 million. The “choice” he offers is an illusion to distract from the democratic case for an event to test support for independence. Part of the usual drumbeat of “I can see no support”, all the way to “you’ll have had your referendum”.
Does he not agree with me that after the local elections, we should set about organising a democratic test of opinion about the constitutional future of our country? If not, given the relatively small cost, what is it that he is afraid of?
Certainly, local elections should be about local matters, but, to the best of my knowledge, the SNP has not indicated any intention to have independence debated during the local elections in May. An important reason for this is that it can leave this up to the unionist parties.
At the last local elections, I received an election communication from the Conservative Party candidate standing in our ward. This was a remarkable document for any local election as it made no mention at all of local issues – not even “cut council tax” – but it did go large on “Send a message to Nicola” and “No second referendum”. Perhaps, Mr Gallagher would do better to speak to others in his own camp?
The choice he sets out between another referendum and council funding is a false one to justify ceasing the constitutional debate. It may have escaped his notice, but in the last two elections the SNP has achieved more seats than any other party, and indeed more than Labour and Conservative combined. Perhaps rather than another referendum, Mr Gallagher’s real fear is Professor Sir John Curtice’s prediction that “SNP ‘should win the best local election results ever’.”
Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.
BEWARE A SNAP GENERAL ELECTION
THE Westminster Establishment prides itself that its political system is superior to others around the world, believing that fair play and decency in public office has protected its citizens or subjects from the intolerance and corruption found in lesser countries.
Well, how the proud and mighty have fallen into the dust of complacency and failure with the unbelievable antics of this UK Tory Government, led by a lying, deceitful Prime Minister.
Scotland must leave this rotten Union as soon as possible, since a snap General Election will bury us all in a rising tide of English or British nationalism, destroying the peace and harmony of Europe.
Grant Frazer, Newtonmore.
ALL SCOTS SHOULD BE GIVEN A VOTE
RUTH Marr (Letters, January 26) talks about “the right to choose our future”; lest she has forgotten we did so in 2014. That is fact and much as separatists would like it, that defeat is not going away.
What I would like to know though is why the SNP in particular wishes to exclude Scottish voters who live abroad, either as expats or shorter terms, and who are denied the vote in any second referendum were such a thing to continue to divert Nicola Sturgeon and co from the many challenges facing our country.
Ms Marr and other contributors to these pages incessantly refer to “other small countries”. Those countries, bar none, allow their citizens around the world to vote in domestic elections, including referendums.
So, if there were IndyRef2 and subsequent neverendums please do explain why the “right to choose our future” is only for some, disenfranchising others who otherwise hold a franchise for voting in UK and Scottish elections.
Douglas McBean, Edinburgh.
LET’S HAVE AN NHS ASSEMBLY
THE Citizens Assembly has passed almost without trace for many reasons (“How SNP ministers let down their own Citizens’ Assembly”, The Herald, January 27), but the principle is correct, particularly in these extremely partisan political times dominated in Scotland by constitutional debate.
The Irish precedent discussed and clarified a specific problem, that of abortion and did lead to legislative change.
The idea problem for the Scottish assembly to discuss, clarify and propose modern solutions for is the NHS in Scotland. Spared from political interference we might at last have a truthful discussion about what a future NHS would look like, priorities, structure, cost, funding.
There is clearly no prospect of the present Scottish Government or Holyrood doing this, but one might hope government funding would continue to a constructive end, and they might agree to accept the findings of the assembly.
A much higher media profile would be needed so the public would appreciate the workings of any discussion, and the evidence and reasons for change. Perhaps a weekly TV programme to report proceedings and expert evidence would help.
That would be far more enlightening than the tedious, pointless lazy journalism of daily reporting of Covid figures, which no-one now can be listening to.
Gavin R Tait, East Kilbride.