RUTH Marr (Letters, April 6) tells us that everything is rosy in the field of education in Scotland. Yet in December 2019 John Swinney admitted that four children out of 10 from Scotland’s poorest areas are leaving primary school without achieving expected literacy levels. This means that they are going into secondary school with one hand tied behind their backs. Is it then not unexpected that they also underperform in secondary?

In the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Scotland’s record in the subjects of reading, maths and the sciences has plummeted to pre-2012 levels. In the Scottish Parliament, these figures were described as shameful, appalling, and damming. Mr Swinney has been a disaster for Scotland’s education system and really should be considering his position. We used to have the best universities in the world, but now we only have one in the world top 30.

Independence, for the sake of it, will do nothing to improve the lives of the people of Scotland. If I were leader of the SNP I’d be concentrating on telling us how the party will improve our lives. How it will improve the economy of Scotland and tell us its industrial strategy to make Scotland great again, bearing in mind that we are already out of the EU and after independence would be out of the UK, trading with the world on WTO terms. Not liking like Boris Johnson is insufficient reason to destroy Scotland for our grandchildren.

Finally, I’d like to ask the SNP what currency Scotland will use, how it will float in world money markets, how much will it be worth against the pound and the euro for when we go on holiday, for those that can afford to, and how the high interest rates it will cause will affect our mortgages?

I have asked the SNP repeatedly for this information but hit a brick wall. Do its leaders not know, or haven’t they thought that far ahead?

Tom Wylie, Elderslie.

* RUTH Marr contends that the SNP Government has delivered for its citizens with all the services it dispenses "free". Who does she think pays for all of this?

In a population of approximately 4.5 million adults,only 2.5 million pay income tax. Almost 45 per cent of all Scottish adults, around two million, do not pay income tax, therefore approximately 55% are subsidising this bounty – so not "free" for all, and likely to cost even more as, inevitably, taxes will rise.

Isobel Hunter, Lenzie.


AT the time of the Smith Commission deliberations on more powers for Holyrood, the Labour Party argued against increasing powers. Since that time the Tory Government, which had earlier proclaimed English votes for English laws, has at every opportunity sought to undermine devolution and transfer powers over matters directly affecting Scotland to Westminster. Both the Labour and the Tory parties argued against Brexit, yet now both support an agreement which denies Scotland access to the EU single market and the Customs Union despite Scotland’s expressed desire to remain in the EU with access to both.

There was a time when the Labour Party would have campaigned against nuclear proliferation but now it remains silent as the Tory Government sets in motion plans to increase the potential devastation of Scotland’s largest city, along with most of the Central Belt, while the real decision-makers blissfully enjoy the benefits of controlling most of the UK’s wealth from their insulated London bubble. (If there are no concerns about potential catastrophic implications for the local population why are no influential entrepreneurs promoting Boris Johnson’s previously-proposed site for “London Britannia Airport” on the Isle of Grain, in the Thames Estuary, as an alternative support facility location for the UK’s nuclear submarines which are unwanted in Scotland?)

Those voters who in the past have supported either Labour or the Tories should think again if they truly wish for their children to benefit from comparable standards set by our European neighbours. This is not simply a wish to restore the highly-valued Erasmus programme but an argument aimed at all who genuinely wish to build a more egalitarian as well as a more prosperous society in Scotland. The only viable route is via independence and not via London-based Labour or Tory parties that will inevitably work together to deny children born in Scotland, and wishing to live in Scotland, democratically free and ambitious futures.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.


I NOTE an interesting historical perspective from Dr Allan Kennedy ("The Union could have been so different – and here’s how", The Herald, April 6). It is to be noted that, apart from Cromwell’s interregnum, the relationship between England and Scotland was regulated by negotiators. At a point where many in Scotland feel the Union no longer works for them, and England has reverted to their historic disinterest (not least Tory Party members), there are no negotiators to “offer a solution to the constitutional wrangles of the 21st century”.

No real surprise: the Union parliament is topped by a Cabinet executive which poorly represents the four nations of the Union, and whose main function is the governance of England. Led by an English nationalist who lamented a Scot becoming Prime Minister (which under English Votes for English Laws is no longer feasible), but who surrounds himself with giant Union flags at English coronavirus briefings, it seems unlikely the Union, as is, can be “saved” by a Union 2.

A confederation (or trading Union) might work if Ireland were included, but, again, English sentiment under this populist regime would be opposed. The performer known as “Boris” is adored in England (not least by the media) but he is a roadblock to any sovereignty-sharing solution. Perhaps Unionists could have a fundraiser to buy him a villa in Tuscany or Mustique where he could retire to, and write his tell-all memoirs.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

* I BELIEVE that two main factors which eventually prevailed from the Scottish perspective in getting agreement to the winding-up of the Scottish Parliament in 1707, notwithstanding the significant opposition inside and outside Parliament, were fairly straightforward. First, the assurance of cash from England for a number of the members, reflected in the words of the song "We're bought and sold for English gold/Such a parcel of rogues in a nation".

Secondly, there was the weight of the simple argument, which proved persuasive to many in Parliament at the time, that they should consider the many material benefits to come from such an alliance with England. During these days of living through a pandemic, one can still see the force of that argument, the effectiveness of which will no doubt be put to the test at the Holyrood elections next month.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


SCOTTISH Renewables, the promotional body funded by companies which generate renewable electricity recently issued a news release declaring "97.4% of Scotland's electricity consumption [was] met by renewables in 2020". It wasn't.

It was actually met throughout the year in very significant part by electricity from our nuclear power stations – mostly Torness running constantly, supported in part by Hunterston and Peterhead gas-powered station.

These stations provide essential synchronous generation support to grid stability increasingly threatened by the increase in renewables generation. The two nuclear stations will be retired this decade and Scotland has no plans to replace them.

They are crucial in providing rotational inertia which acts as a system shock absorber during grid disturbances to keep the frequency stable and localised wattless, reactive power, essential to keeping voltage stable as grid load characteristics vary through the day.

Without them and large imports from Europe and England, which contribution Scottish Renewables seem to have wittingly overlooked in its erroneous claim, during several long calm periods of the year when wind supplied no output at all we would have been sitting in the dark .

Additionally the £1bn DC interconnector from the Hunterston area to Wales in support of exports regularly fails and we the bill payers have to meet millions of pounds annually in constraint payments to the wind farm owners to shut down.

Scotland's total renewables generation may, arithmetically, have equalled this percentage of our total annual usage but we cannot use it to run our grid at the claimed level due to the heightened stability risk and risk of near-instant collapse for several days at a time. No matter how many more wind turbines we build this will not change.

So we are left with an erroneous sound bite which will likely wrongly influence people living in Scotland, including our politicians, to believe we can stably produce all of our electrical power by wind alone with no critical electrical support from additional synchronous sources.

DB Watson, Cumbernauld.

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