IAIN Macwhirter writes critically about the relative silence of the SNP regarding the arrangements for the Anglo-Scotland border after independence ("Sturgeon’s border problem could possibly kill Yes vote stone dead", April 11). But surely it is not possible to say what these will be, since there will be two parties to this negotiation and the SNP cannot speak for the position taken by the UK Government? All it can say is that it would wish cross-border trade and cross-border travel to be as smooth as possible. Plus, it would be foolish to reveal its hand if it had any particular ploys ahead of negotiation.

There is no reason to assume that a common travel area similar to what exists currently with Ireland would not be the outcome, and as for UK-Scottish trade, since we are both now outside the EU, why would cross-border trade be immediately impacted by EU rules? The Scotland-UK trade relationship would be a matter for the Anglo-Scottish negotiations.

Should Scotland wish to re-enter the EU it would be at a later date after independence and a matter for the Scottish people to decide. It would take a minimum of two years to arrange following independence during which time a three-way deal would need to be hammered out. Scotland would simply have to decide whether her long-term interests were best served by easier trade with the EU or easier trade with UK.

As a recent LSE study of the division of Czechoslovakia revealed, longer term it was in the interests of both countries to mainly trade with the EU rather than each other and their pattern of trade shifted from mainly trading with each other to mainly trading with the larger bloc.

Mairianna Clyde, Edinburgh.


JUST before the deadline when campaigning was to begin, the First Minister managed just in time to put out the promise to award nurses a four per cent rise. What a smart move to get the nurses onside to vote for the governing party. That promise made the Westminster offer of one per cent look a pretty measly and miserable offer. Plaudits would have to go to the SNP and allow the party to take a bow as the champion of the medical fraternity and sorority in that circumstance.

Then Jeane Freeman came out with a confession that the Government made a serious mistake by sending discharged NHS elderly patients into care homes, whose presence there most likely seeded the spread of the virus so devastatingly.

Ms Freeman, who is standing down at this election looks like she will escape scot-free from any culpability in this matter while our Teflon FM will most probably suffer no fallout from this admission.

Meanwhile still festering under wraps is the report on education by the OECD and that will not see the light of day until after May 6, which will be too late for the electorate to take into account to pass judgment on the record she said she should be judged on as FM.

After 14 years in government poll ratings suggest the SNP is untouchable. How long before that bubble will burst and its record laid bare for what it is, pinned upon the one premise of independence, an illusory perspective since the intention is to take us back into the arms of the EU where we will have to conform to the rules and regulations of that body instead of being subordinate to the Westminster lot?

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


AT the SNP manifesto launch Nicola Sturgeon said it basically depends on when Covid is over whether she will call a referendum, but it will be during the next five years. I don't know what the definition is of when a pandemic is over but sounds like it will be up to her to decide, and if the last five years are anything to go by it will be sometime never for her and her clique and Indy quarantine for the rest of us. Unless the people of Scotland unite on May 6 to vote tactically and rid us of this no-hope SNP ball and chain round Scotland's ankles.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.


IF our country is eventually wearied enough and forced into another referendum, there are some changes to the 2014 version that are essential for fairness. Then, the SNP was given every possible advantage – perhaps the pro-UK side was over-confident. The nationalists were given the choice of wording – which many found slanted towards those proposing breaking up the UK. They were given the crucial Yes choice, which many experts claim gives about an automatic five per cent advantage, as well as choice of age eligibility and date and other give-aways. That the nationalists contrived to lose after all that says much.

In Canada, beset for years by a separatist movement in Quebec similar to the SNP, the central government eventually acted. It had to – two lost referendums and continuing calls for another that were destroying Quebec’s economy. It decided to alter the wording of any future referendum to reflect what was actually involved in breaking up Canada. It became instead of a Yes or No, a Stay or Leave choice. The people were forced to think and the separatist movement has stalled, perhaps aware of the answer it would get in another referendum. Many think the present situation there is permanent.

A recent Survation poll, taken March 9-12, found that when Scots were asked if there was a referendum with the question: "Should Scotland leave or remain part of the UK?’’, 57 per cent voted to remain and 43% to leave.

The infinitely clearer Leave-Remain choice will reflect much more the true feelings of the people of this country. Legislation should be enacted now to stop one side in any future referendum ever having again the advantages the SNP had in 2014. Fairness should not need to be a demand.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


WILLIE Maclean (Letters, April 11) talks of the failure of Ron McKay in his column of March 28 and myself in my letter of April 4 failing to highlight the damage that will be done to young people by Brexit.The point I was making was the inability of those in this Government and in particular Priti Patel to take into account and recognise those past immigrants who enhanced this country by their presence as they have done for decades without harm to this country or its people. I am well aware of the consequences of Brexit on business and people and did not mention Brexit.

He goes onto ask why would employers train our young people in career development when "oven-ready" well-educated immigrants were ready available. Maybe he should be asking why our young people are not "oven-ready". There can be no excuse for the failure of the educational shambles today for which I would hold this Government accountable and not, as it would have us believe, another problem caused by immigration.

His assumption that our young people in the future will only be offered harvesting and fruit picking is so pathetic it could be coming from the mouth of Ms Patel as she makes her case for her answer to the immigration problems caused mainly by her party. It also suggests that our young people are incapable of making a success of life as they see it and have no ambition. Anyone who pays attention when young people speak will realise that is not the case.

His implication that jobs working the land as somehow beneath us is deplorable. This work was open to everyone but our young people mainly declined the offer.

If Mr. Maclean really thinks that every young person is interested in a career and further education, maybe he could advise all those with a degree working in pubs, or worse still, without a job, where exactly all these career jobs are.

Michael Tolland, Glasgow.


HAVING read Martin Williams's exclusive ("Taxed on Property Value?", April 11) it struck me that rather than revisiting the old domestic rates system to fund council spending, could we not consider a fairer system based upon a basic standard charge for services such as bin collections, road / pavement maintenance, street lighting and the like – common services which we all use, which could be set by local councils?

This should be set at a fairly low rate (say about £300 per annum) which would be paid by everyone over school age regardless of income level. If a council had to spend more money regarding exceptional costs, for example, tidying up litter andalism, it would increase the charge the following year to recoup the money. This would have the added advantage of focusing people's minds that these services have a cost and could possibly lead to a change of mentality – you might be less inclined to litter if you are paying for it to be cleaned up.

We could call this the Local Community Charge.

The second part of funding for the councils would be based on ability to pay. This could be achieved by the Scottish Government increasing income tax by anything up to the devolved three per cent and earmarking this amount to be shared by the local councils, possibly based on council area population, or some other fair system could be devised. This could also be topped up from central government grants.

Although I am not an expert in local government finance, I would imagine that this would be a fairly simple system to operate (compared to what we have at present anyway).

A fair business rates system is another matter.

B Bennie, Renfrew.


I WOULD have hoped that someone with the very northern name Ron McKay would have known that the person he referred to in the poem (Diary, April 11) is the Bonnie Earl O’Moray, the north-east shire, not a Glaswegian Earlamurray, or even from the Murray lands in Southern Perthshire as he was a Stewart. Mind you, I used to think another part of the poem said “lang may his lady look, oot frae the Castle doon when it is Doune Castle near Stirling that is meant. So, being half a Murray, it’s honours even.

David Fyfe, Arbroath.