Trident, Nato and an independent Scotland

Having newly published a book about such things, Sir David Omand has kindly offered his thoughts on the prospects for intelligence services and defence in our independent Scotland ("Indy Scotland free from Trident? Forget it", Herald on Sunday, November 8).

I am sure his book will appeal to all those who want to know more about the function of GCHQ and British Defence Policies throughout the last few decades – during which we have witnessed bloody conflicts in the Balkans, the invasion of Iraq, The Arab Spring, Twin Towers atrocities and the expansion of the EU amongst many other world changing events.

Nevertheless, however well-intentioned Sir David’s opinions may be, they are surely made obsolete by the biggest world event of all – Covid-19. Like economists and bankers, GCHQ experts face a new world in which old priorities and old alliances may not help at all. Very simply, nuclear missiles offer no defence against viruses. No matter how attached to them GCHQ may feel, nuclear weapons, with a record of mismanagement and potentially catastrophic accidents, must be removed forthwith from the outskirts of our largest city.

His concern regarding the possibility of London “spying” on Scotland after we regain independence seems particularly out of touch to me. Is he really saying that Scotland is not already well-acquainted with the activities of Special Branch, MI5 and whatever else the UK government employs to monitor the behaviour of those who appear to challenge the status quo of London Rule? As someone who has had the honour, many years ago, of a polite but shocking visit by such agents, I can assure Sir David that most of us take London surveillance of Scotland – especially Holyrood – for granted.

Sir David’s perspective is from the GCHQ, not Glasgow. This explains why he does not understand that Scottish Independence, reasserted so that we join Europe and the rest of the world again with our own voice, is a positive change, not a threat. It is about to happen at a time when the whole world is being educated, by the twin global enemies of Covid and Climate Change, that co-operation, not “Mutually Assured Destruction”, is the only sensible way ahead.

Frances McKie

Evanton, Ross-shire

• The coverage of Sir David Omand's new book was excellent. This highlights the difficulties posed by just one small but very important aspect of the push for independence that could become a major problem along with so many other topics, the hard border and usage or otherwise of Sterling being at the top of the list.

It is apparent that "independence" comes at not only a huge and unaffordable cost but it is not actually deliverable. Scotland can never be genuinely independent from England nor can it ever be an important part of the European Union. It is time for the nationalists to take off their rose tinted glasses and perceive this reality.

Scotland and England are joined by so much more than just geography and no political movement can break the myriad of bonds that cement us. It is not a case of "better together", we are permanently welded together.

Dr Gerald Edwards


• In 2014 we were told Scotland would be excluded from the European Union if we voted for independence. The truth is that had we voted for independence Scotland could already be a member state of the EU in its own right.

Now we are told that we will be barred from Nato if we vote to be a non-nuclear independent state. I wonder what the 90% of Nato members who do not possess nuclear weapons think of that claim.

With much the same diplomatic sensitivity as that shown by Alister Jack when he told Scots they would not be granted another referendum on independence for 40 years, David Omand tells us that if we chose independence we would be “vulnerable” and that “big brother” England might start spying on us. Is there a unionist plan to counter Indyref2 by Project Fear 2? I fervently hope Scottish voters are too canny to be fooled by the same trick twice.

The present UK Government knows full well it is not just Scots who oppose having weapons of mass destruction on their doorstep. If an attempt were made to move them from their current location just downstream of Scotland’s largest city, to just downstream of England’s largest city (to Chatham for instance, which was kept open to deal with the Falklands Crisis), I suspect Londoners and the residents of Kent would raise an outcry at becoming the new premier European target in any future nuclear conflict: “big brother” relies on its already “vulnerable” northern little brother to bear that risk.

Peter Martin

Strathconon, Muir of Ord

• I was surprised at the lack of balance in your front-page exclusive and The Big Read article. Ignoring the ludicrous notion of an independent Scotland being a threat to the security of the Western World, it was the complete lack of any challenge or counterargument in the articles.

We are expected to accept pro veritate the statements made by Sir David Ormand without questioning the provenance or purpose of the articles.

I can only contrast the balanced reporting on Page 8 of the allegations against the Scottish Government of the iron cage of institutional bureaucracy by an educational expert and the comments proffered by the relevant educational agencies. Also the opportunity on P16 was given to the BBC director to respond to the criticisms made by Professor Tom Devine to her documentary on Henry Dundas. It was that balance I expect from the Herald on Sunday which was clearly lacking in the Trident piece.

Ian Sloan


• In Neil Mackay’s piece in The Herald on Sunday, Sir David Omand, outlines security problems which an independent Scotland would face and questions “the SNP’s policies on Nato and Trident”. He describes the dire consequences to Scotland of being an isolated country at the mercy of international espionage and issues a warning about the cost of establishing security services and armed forces. An independent Scotland would be “vulnerable “ and heavily reliant on security agencies such as MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

In another piece by John-Paul Holden, eminent educationalist Professor Walter Humes, says Scottish education is “trapped in the iron cage of its own bureaucracy” and warns he is “gloomy” about the prospects for Scottish education – a comment that will not surprise many as we have all witnessed the decline in education in Scotland.

Given the serious warnings from these two experts, it is time nationalists discarded Nicola Sturgeon’s teenage nonsense of an independent Scotland, listened to real specialists and appreciated where the future and security of their children and grandchildren really lies.

We receive nothing from SNP politicians on these vital aspects of independence, all they offer is “hope”. Hope is not enough to educate our children, put food on the table or defend our country. As the SNP states, the election next year will be based on independence, “the people of Scotland” require and demand credible answers to these and so many other pressing issues.

If growing support for an independent Scotland is based purely on Ms Sturgeon’s daily grandstanding, Scotland is indeed “doomed – we’re doomed”.

Douglas Cowe

Kingseat, Aberdeenshire

Remembrance without a poppy

I am prompted to write to you after reading Ron McKay’s article "We will remember them – with or without a poppy" in The Herald on Sunday of November 8.

I support the charity financially, but have hardly ever worn a poppy to signify this. It stems from my mother not wearing one, either, and that is a result of something which happened to my maternal grandfather.

He was a soldier in the First World War, wounded twice, and sent back to fight again twice – I have his wee soldier’s book in my possession which records this. Like many others, he did not really speak about his experiences as a runner in the trenches – being only 5’2” in height, he was well suited to that task – as we presume they were too awful to put into words.

When he came back home to the north east of England at the end of the war, supposedly to a country fit for and welcoming to heroes, he was at first unable to find work. He went, as a last resort and in desperation, to the Earl Haig foundation, and they, in their wisdom and charity LOANED him the princely sum of 10 shillings.

From when my mother told me this I have never worn a poppy, even though, as Ron McKay states, there seems to be a sort of tyranny of the poppy these days, as there seem to be, tyrannies about other things, but they are subjects of other correspondence!

Gwyneth Campbell

High Banton

There's no glossing over the reality of the Lords

Douglas Ross vainly attempts to make the House of Lords more acceptable by suggesting that reforms should be considered to give Scotland and the other devolved nations "fairer representation" ("Scots quotas in the Lords? It's something that should be looked at," Herald on Sunday, November 8).

However, no amount of tinkering at the edges will change the fact that the House of Lords comprises hundreds of unelected members, all of whom can claim hundreds of pounds a day of taxpayers' money for just turning up and dining off subsidised food and drink. And no amount of gloss can cover another fact; the House of Lords is a depository for failed politicians from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.

I note Mr Ross's enthusiasm that the already inflated numbers in the Lords will shortly be increased by yet another failed politician, the future Baroness Ruth Davidson.

Ruth Marr


Scotland's Donald Trump ... or America's Nicola Sturgeon?

Donald Trump and his hard line supporters’ refusal to acknowledge, let alone accept, defeat in the presidential election has a disturbing element of deja-vu to it. Here in Scotland, a group of hardliners also refused to accept a demonstrably clear democratic defeat in 2014 and continue to raise one inconsequence and irrelevance after another to prevent the will of the people being carried out.

Mr Trump, in fact, is America’s Nicola Sturgeon.

Alexander McKay


• Nicola Sturgeon urges Donald Trump to accept defeat in the US presidential election. Sorry, Nicola, but just how much do you think he cares about your opinion? You're responsible for managing a number of vitally important domestic services in Scotland, with zero international responsibilities.

Ms Sturgeon, please don't waste our time on such self-aggrandising nonsense. How about instead focusing on the attainment gap in Scottish schools, that you've spent 13 years failing to reduce?

Martin Redfern


Time to apologise over green jobs promises

Well done to The Herald on Sunday ("Green revolution on life support," November 8) for highlighting that less than ten percent of the Scottish jobs promised in offshore wind have materialised.

Indeed the Offshore Wind Group, which consisted mainly of Scottish Government departments and wind energy companies, published a document titled “Scotland's Offshore Wind Route Map” in 2010 which estimated that 28,377 jobs in offshore wind would be created by 2020. In its latest data, the Office for National Statistics has estimated that only 1,700 jobs have been created; another estimate is 1,900.

Will the Scottish Government admit this to the people and apologise with the same enthusiasm that they made the original prediction?

Geoff Moore

Braeface Park, Alness

Disgusting telly? We should be so lucky!

Am I the only one astounded by HJ Lynch's claims that even BBC and ITV channels are full of "appalling, disgusting programmes ... full of nakedness, full frontals, live sexual intercourse, masturbation, prostitution and sado-masochism" (Letters, Herald on Sunday, November 8)?

One thought they were full of tortuous telly and movie "classics" being repeated more times than Covid-19 warning adverts, in between vapid soaps and reality shows for the living brain dead.

Indeed, the exact same ones have been repeated so often, I am confident of jumping into any role from the Rowling or Tolkien movies, any David Jason show, or acting as stunt double for the Manta Rays in Sir David Attenborough's two "Blue Planet" series.

One is inclined to suggest to Mr Lynch the words of Dr Samuel Johnson when congratulated over having no vulgar or lewd words in his dictionary, to which he replied "And how would you know, unless you were looking for them?"

Mark Boyle