JILL Stephenson (Letters, July 19) criticises Iain Macwhirter for claiming that in 2014 Scotland could have remained in a currency union with rUK. The certainty with which she makes her case is both misplaced and misleading.

First of all there was no technical reason for there not being a currency union – basically it could have been “business as usual”, as the Governor of the Bank of England at the time (Mervyn, now Lord, King) confidently suggested would actually have been the case, no matter the posturing of Osborne, Balls and Alexander.

In particular, though, and in any case, the vote went against independence, so a currency union was moot. Thus the certainty with which Ms Stephenson presents her “case” simply has no basis in reality beyond a convenient conjecture.

Her musings about membership of the EU, likewise present another unwarranted certainty. It is certainly the case that member countries have their own currencies (or did prior to the euro), but the fact is that the EU has never faced a situation like Scotland’s and thus any certainty about what it might do is unwarranted. In any event, even if Ms Stephenson is correct that the EU would refuse an independent Scotland membership if it lacked its own currency, she writes as if one is in the EU or not, when the fact is that, routinely the EU enters into association agreements with applicant states prior to full membership. These, while not according voting rights, could give Scotland much of what we want from membership, such as single market access, participation in EU schemes and freedom of movement.

Of course, if one starts from the proposition that Scotland should continue to be part of the UK, then any forecast of an independent future will be extremely negative. Naturally, we are all entitled to our point of view, but presenting mere conjectures as facts is disingenuous. Ironically Ms Stephenson considers giving false impressions “worse than irresponsible”. She might want to look at her own contributions before being critical in this way of others.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

JILL Stephenson is correct, the British nationalist parties vetoed a currency union between Scotland and rUK, though it could only have worked short term in any case.

After the break-up of Czechoslovakia, the establishment of new currencies was achieved quickly and pain-free. So Scotland should establish a new currency as quickly as possible, and as Scotland runs a substantial trade surplus we have a good basis from which to start. I prefer the “Norway Option” for Scotland, but if we did join the EU, the euro would be fine; an optimal currency in a huge trade block on our doorstep.

Would an independent Scotland have a per capita share of the substantial UK assets (home and abroad)? If not we would then have no debt to repay (Vienna Convention on Succession of States). But if we had Clark Cross’s trial run (Letters, July 18), we would spend our revenue for best Scottish bang-for-our-buck, not paying for expenditure outside Scotland “on our behalf”. We would not expect to pay any part of, or incur debt on behalf of, HS2 or renewing Trident, or the rebuilding of Westminster Palace, or any of the myriad of expenditures south of our border, any more than we would pay for spending programmes in, say, France.

Of course, under Mr Cross’s suggestion, Scotland would have no way to access the many opportunities that a normal self-governing country has, but it would part the veil of dependency and let us see the most excellent vista’s that lie beyond. We only have to vote Yes.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

I VERY much doubt if Clark Cross's proposal that Scotland should be given a two year "trial run" at independence would result in the waning of the desire for self-government as he confidently predicts. So far, 62 countries have gained independence from the UK, none of them has asked to come back and many of them celebrate the day that British colonial powers departed. As for Scotland's sustainability, other nations of similar size in population to Scotland are managing their independence very well, such as Denmark, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, and Finland; and there are plenty of other countries with far smaller populations than Scotland, such as Iceland, who are also thriving with self-respect, self-determination and self-government.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

NICOLA Sturgeon often quips that Boris Johnson's a recruiting sergeant for Scottish independence. As a UK governmental committee (with SNP MP Stuart Hosie a member) highlights "credible" evidence of Russian "influence campaigns" in the run-up to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, maybe she's confusing the Prime Minister with President Putin?

Martin Redfern, Melrose.


I AM sure I was not the only one horrified by the mess people left on the streets of Leeds when they celebrated the return of their team to the top tier of English football.

And just as many must have been appalled at the amount of litter left behind on a beach where many had gone to take advantage of the relaxation of lockdown.

What we saw on our TV screens was shameful in relation to those two incidents.

Those two sets of people, who were out to enjoy themselves, appear to have had neither common sense nor a conscience about the amount of clean-up which needed doing after their totally insouciant conduct.

What could have been easier than to gather up their debris to deposit it in the available litter bins or to bring it home with them to dispose of it in their own refuse disposal bins at home?

Selfishness and a lack of consideration for others seem to be the characteristics we must expect from those who have no respect for their surroundings which they display in spades with their careless conduct.

The me society is all too evident in those two episodes as though some people feel entitled to do what they like and devil take the hindmost.

Freedom does not mean that we do not need to follow the rules and observe the proprieties of decency.

I hope that those who made the mess felt thoroughly ashamed of what they had done when they saw the evidence of their disrespect scattered on the streets and the beach.

Or is that too much to ask of those kinds of people?

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


PROFESSOR John Underhill raises important points about the perception of geology in Scotland ("Concern over lack of future rock stars from Scotland", July 19). Knowledge of geology has never been more important, for understanding and mitigating future climate change and helping Scotland meet the 2045 net-zero emissions target. So it is concerning that the number of applications for geoscience degrees at Scottish universities is in sharp decline.

The loss of Higher Geology is undoubtedly a factor, but there are many opportunities within the Curriculum for Excellence and other Highers such as Environmental Science and Geography for pupils to learn how the planet works, and the many different ways in which geology and geological processes impact on modern life in Scotland. Organisations such as the Geobus at St Andrews University and Scotland’s Geoparks are doing excellent work in taking geology into the classroom, and placing it in the context of sustainable development. The recent launch of a new charity, the Scottish Geology Trust, recognises the need to support these existing initiatives, and for wider promotion of the importance of geology to Scotland.

Angus Miller, Secretary, Scottish Geology Trust, Edinburgh.


ROBERT McNeil's piece on video gaming was embarrassing (Talking Rabbish, July 19): there have been holograms with more substance.

First, video gaming being for "loners": right, so all those adverts with families playing Nintendo Switch games together (usually Mario Kart or some other swear box money generator) just passed him by, as did World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls Online, Rocket League and the umpteen other cooperation games where you have no chance of advancement or success without teamwork.

Next, "all the games had themes of violence and fighting". The biggest-selling this game this year by a country mile is Animal Crossing New Horizons, where the only violence comes from being stung by wasps or a scorpion. Every year there's a new Animal Crossing, it always comes top, and if not that, it's the latest in the The Sims series.

Mind you, as he later gushed that "bacteria have started eating metal!" – er, yes, it's called microbial corrosion, and it's been known since 1900 as a hazard within sewage systems – perhaps we should make allowances for the terminally out of touch?

Mark Boyle, Johnstone.


I READ with interest Ron McKay’s account of Charles Dickens’s visit to the Chinese Gallery (July 19) and noted that he ended the item with the words “Charles Dickens ... racist bigot”.

The item is at best facile and at worst mischievous. The picture is by no means as clear cut as Mr McKay attempts to present it. While he is obviously familiar with the titles of some of Dickens’s novels, he ought to read Martin Chuzzlewit, in which Dickens’s horror of slavery is abundantly clear. He should also read the chapter on slavery in American Notes, which shows Dickens’s utter revulsion at the manner in which slave owners treated their slaves.

As to the assertion that “Dickens didn’t have much time for Catholics” I would suggest that he read Pictures from Italy, where he will learn that Dickens took issue with aspects of ritual, but not with Catholics as people. He might try Barnaby Rudge, which, as he may know, is an account of the “No Popery” Gordon riots of 1780. It is quite clear throughout that Dickens’s sympathies lie wholly with the victims of the disorders. I would venture to suggest that the above assertion is purely mischievous.

Dr GM Armitage, Glasgow.