I FORESEE years of fruitless confusion and rancour surrounding the constitutional issue, it being all or nothing for fundamentalists on both sides of the debate.

However there is hope. With Labour and the LibDems being seen as “losers” in the recent election, little attention is being given to the fact that their manifestos contained proposals for a Constitutional Commission being established to come up with some form of practical federalism. North of the Border we talk of Devo Max. Without a third option a repeat of the binary Yes/No in indyref2 could lead to disaster with no lessons having been learned from the politics of division of the past five years.

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In this context I was much encouraged by Andy Maciver’s article (“How unionists pushed Scotland away ... and how to stop doing it”, May 16) and by Gavin Esler’s splendid book How Britain Ends: English Nationalism and the Rebirth of Four Nations.

Both Mr Maciver’s and Mr Esler’s approach can be summed up by Mr Maciver’s assertion that “unionists must reimagine unionism. The only viable United Kingdom, now, is a looser kingdom at ease with its many identities and embracing its political diversity” and by Mr Esler’s “Home Rule for All Nations will not be easy. But it is probably the last chance of saving the many good things about our United Kingdom, building upon the UK’s existing quasi-federal structure being the obvious way to proceed.”

Furthermore a reading of both reveals that the more rational Scottish nationalists recognise that in this day and age there can be no “absolute” independence and as a consequence it is not entirely inconceivable that they and the “federalists” may not be so far apart when it comes to the crunch, the minorities of ultra unionists and Scottish nationalists being the only opposition to the achievement of a reasonable solution.

And so the UK needs a Devo Max movement, the core of which is surely to be found in the Labour Party “with Sir Keir Starmer’s idea of a constitutional convention being a reasonable first step” , as Mr Esler suggests.

John Milne, Uddingston.


NICOLA Sturgeon rightly said in her acceptance speech on re-election as First Minister, that those of who do not support independence cannot be “bludgeoned towards an outcome you have not been persuaded of”.

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With those words the First Minister sums up how it has felt living over the last many years in Scotland, for those who value what we share with our fellow citizens across the UK.

Day in, day out, the heavy hand of Scottish nationalism has made its presence felt, badly mismanaging critical public services like education, whilst simultaneously seeking to impose a “we-know-best” attitude into many aspects of our lives. All the while, the SNP leadership has used every opportunity to stir grievance against the UK, promoting division rather than recognising the benefits of working positively together.

Despite warm-sounding political spin, the First Minister’s acceptance speech reasserts the SNP’s determination to impose its will on the half of Scotland who oppose it. Meanwhile, we have no hint of clarity or honesty on reasonable concerns over the challenges the SNP’s overriding objective will likely mean for us.

As some countries look forward to enjoying a period of calm normality once they emerge from the awful effects of Covid, our First Minister instead offers us a vision of division and uncertainty. Using her own favourite Brexit imagery, she appears to want Scotland to join hands with her and jump off a cliff into the unknown, simply because she says we should.

Keith Howell, West Linton.


GERALD Edwards (Letters, June 16) presents the tired old contention that the SNP “only” secured 31 per cent of the “available” constituency vote. Of course, what he means is that “only” 31% of registered electors voted SNP in their constituency. However, readers might care to note that on the same basis the Conservative vote was 14.2% of the “available” constituency vote and Labour’s 13.9%. How a voting system works has a clue in its name – “voting”. One must register a vote to register an opinion.

Moreover, it’s interesting that he uses the constituency vote to claim that the unionist vote was higher than the independence vote. Using the list vote instead and removing votes for parties with no explicit manifesto position on independence (Freedom Party, Family Party, Animal Welfare, Women’s Equality, Communist Party, Hazel Mansfield, James Morrison and Maurice Campbell), which amounted to 1.1% of the total votes cast, the proportion of votes for parties explicitly supporting independence was 50.6% of votes cast, compared to 48.3% for anti-independence parties.

Any dispassionate view of these figures could only conclude that the independence and unionist sides are, currently neck and neck. Statistical sophistry of the kind initiated by your correspondent does little to take forward any debate. Perhaps, this might have something to do with the fact that at the start of the last referendum debate, independence started on something like 30%? Could it be this is another part of the unionist campaign to talk down another referendum and the possibility of independence by bogus means, and thus avoid defeat?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


I NOTE Clark Cross's letter (May 16), in which he says: "Every time there is an unusual weather event the green brigade rush to say it is climate change" and wish to respond. Pete Townshend wrote: “The simple things you see are all complicated”.

This perfectly describes atmospheric processes.

The basics are simple. Earth’s atmosphere is absorbing and retaining more solar energy as this is trapped by greenhouse gases. This energy is either dissipated or stored in a variety of ways, with different outcomes, all governed by basic physical processes. The atmosphere behaves in line with the combined gas laws. Pressure, volume and temperature constantly interact.

Kinetic is movement energy, of both wind and water. More atmospheric energy will mean more wind, bigger waves, and even faster or disrupted flows of ocean currents. A present benefit to us is that the Forth and Clyde are not icebound in winter.

More kinetic energy means peak events like hurricanes are likely to be more powerful.

Storm energy can be dissipated in electric storms like thundersnow, once rare, now frequent.

Both atmosphere and oceans may absorb more heat energy, so temperatures rise.

Warmer oceans hold more dissolved gases, becoming more acid. This can have a dramatic effect on marine life’s ability to survive, corals being a sensitive life form. Corals store carbonates in their reefs. This is a knock-on impact. Fewer corals means less take-up of carbon. These feedback loops intensify climate change impacts.

Warmer air in higher latitudes and altitudes will melt more polar and glacier ice. Oceanic thermal expansion will also cause sea level rise, if it is not sea ice.

The albedo effect – reflectivity – complicates ice loss impacts. Open sea, formerly ice-covered, absorbs more heat energy than highly reflective ice floes, thus allowing more rapid heat transfers in high latitude oceans. This then accelerates further ice melt.

Another basic physical process – latent heat, or conversion energy, governs the melting of ice into water . Ice melting, in huge masses, requires a much larger energy transfer than just raising it from -1C to 1C.

Mass transfers of energy are needed to drive the hydrological cycle. Water vapour evaporates from the seas, condenses into clouds, then rain or snow.

More energy can mean higher rain or snowfall. Additional cloud cover reflects more solar energy so we also have to account for a mitigating impact.

Yet, some large air masses stall and produce longer periods of stable drier or hotter weather leading to droughts, and increased fire risk, especially in Mediterranean climates.

These are all energy transfers. Feedback loops within these systems then either accelerate or slow processes. It isn’t a neat linear progression.

Climate is the average weather over a 30-year cycle. Single weeks, months, even years can diverge from the overall direction of longer term trends. Such is "bias" or "noise". No atmospheric scientist will say any single peak event is definitely caused by climate change. Yet over time more storms and powerful weather events are likely.

One of the problems of climate change is that fish don’t see water. We’re immersed in daily weather patterns so the bigger picture is often concealed.

Mr Cross’s piscine observations are one such example.

Tony Philpin, Gigha.


GLASGOW is facing a lockdown extension ("Post-match height of madness, May 16). But there are many scientific studies that cast doubt on the efficacy of lockdowns. For example, in December a Korean team led by S Hong published a study which says that, except for school closures and contact tracing, all non-clinical Covid measures “are proven to be statistically insignificant or even have a negative impact”.

A Stanford team led by E Bendavid published a paper in January which says “there is no evidence that more restrictive nonpharmaceutical interventions ('lockdowns') contributed substantially to bending the curve of new cases in England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain or the US in early 2020”.

And in February a Canadian study published by A Joffe says that the recession and austerity resulting from government lockdowns “can be expected to cause far more loss of life and well-being over the long run than Covid-19 can”.

Government ministers and advisors should be asked if they're willing to forego their salaries for the duration of any lockdown.

Geoff Moore, Alness.


RON McKay's comments on Question Time (Diary, May 16) hit the mark. The programme is a travesty of its former self, even allowing for restrictions caused by the pandemic. The "virtual" audience are "virtually" the same every week. Their contributions are predictable. There is no meaningful debate. How are these people chosen, week on week? Fiona Bruce does not even ask viewers now to volunteer for future programmes.

If this is the best the BBC can do the programme should be axed, until something more like its original format can be re-instated.

Sandra MacDougall, Edinburgh.