EITHER Nicola Sturgeon’s army of special advisers is becoming nervous, or she herself is.

Her conference speech sank to a new low, making absurd allegations about the "damage" Westminster will do to Scotland – "our working population is likely to fall. Who knows what will happen to our NHS in future trade deals" ("Sturgeon says unionists will try to exploit Brexit impact", The Herald, September 14). Actually, it is under SNP health governance that every health board in Scotland has signed a contract with the US private health company, IHI.

Westminster has, allegedly, "made us poorer". The truth is that, over and above the usual £2,000 per person per year Barnett bonus, Westminster has poured an extra £14 billion into Scotland during the pandemic, in terms of furloughing and business support. It is not Westminster’s fault that £2.7bn of business support has not reached business but has been snarled up somewhere in the SNP system. "They want us to believe we are powerless in the face of the disastrous decisions they have taken for us," Ms Sturgeon claims. Yep. Furloughing and the quick production and distribution of Covid vaccines really were "disastrous decisions". She talks about "resisting" Westminster as if Scots lived in an occupied country (as some of the wilder fringes of the SNP claim).

To listen to Ms Sturgeon, you would think that "Westminster" – Tories, English, London, obviously – spends most of its waking hours engaged in a conspiracy to do Scotland down, that there is a whole civil service unit dedicated to that policy, just as she spends our money on her civil service referendum unit. This is the tired old SNP trope that was dishonest at the time of devolution, propagated incessantly during the referendum, and harped on at every election campaign. But now there is a clear element of paranoia in Ms Sturgeon’s words. "They are out to get us" is her message. It’s all to stop us from being "independent" – and look around us, she says, at other countries: "independence works". I rather thought her adviser, Professor Mark Blyth, put the mockers on that by pointing out that "Denmark took 600 years to become Denmark" and that Scotland would not be transformed overnight into some mythical paradise ("FM adviser warns independence would bring 20 years of economic upheaval", The Herald, September 7).

The blunt truth is that the UK would save money if Scotland left it. The corollary of that is that Scotland would be a lot poorer. Persecution-complex talk of Westminster being desperate to damage Scotland is a product of secession mania and deep-seated hostility towards our fellow citizens in the UK. Talk of "resisting" is an escalation of hostility. But fear not: we all know that Ms Sturgeon is becoming rather desperate in the face of the impossibility of holding a legal referendum on her own authority. What is interesting is that it has reached such a pass that her desperation is now very obvious.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


GORDON W Smith (Letters, September 15) is quite correct that democracy prevailed in 2014. At that time, both sides did indeed accept the democracy of the vote, but for that to remain the case, another element was required – that it was honoured by both sides.

So may I ask Mr Smith a few questions? Where are the 13 frigates due to begin being built in 2015 on the Clyde? Is the Holyrood parliament and its powers, from which Westminster has already withdrawn elements of powers, now enshrined in law in perpetuity? Is the Sewell Convention, which was meant to prevent Westminster from overruling Holyrood, now enshrined in law? Does Scotland now have the “guaranteed“ membership of the EU? That latter, in particular, was what swung the vote from a potential Yes to No.

While the losing side, however reluctantly, was indeed prepared to honour the democracy of the vote, the winning side merely fulfilled the age-old, historically documented “power grab prophecy”, which reveals that the side which makes promises to ensure a win never fulfils them after victory.

Democracy also enshrines the right of voters to change their minds with time and changing circumstances. No democratic vote is forever.

P Davidson, Falkirk.


IT would be nice if your unionist correspondents applied the same principles and rules to Scotland as apply elsewhere in the UK. Does Dr Gerald Edwards (Letters, September 15) think David Cameron, with 37% of the vote, had a mandate for the Brexit referendum? Did Theresa May have a mandate for offering to Labour a Brexit 2 referendum in 2019 when she had a minority Government, and had not sought electoral approval for one?

It is dispiriting that UK Ultras continue to try to gerrymander Scottish democracy for their narrow nationalist ends. Scotland needs to get this issue resolved soon, in the interests of us all. Boris Johnson is a great English populist (his long history of “Ajockalypse Now” jibes are, however, contemptible), but is sometimes on the right track. He would say “Get It Done”.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


THE Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SCPB) has asked the Home Office to designate the Scottish Parliament a “protected site” on national security grounds, effectively meaning that anyone standing outside the parliament can be removed by the police if they are “without lawful authority” to be there ("Holyrood refuses to back down in growing row over protesting", The Herald, September 15). The architect of the Scottish Parliament, Enric Miralles stated that “the seats of the Parliament are a fragment of a large amphitheatre where citizens can sit on the landscape”; “the natural amphitheatre will be the first form in the land ... between citizens and the building ... a physical representation of a participatory attitude to sit together-gathering”; “to carve in the land the form of gathering people together”; “citizens, sitting, resting, thinking...”

The proposed law change completely disrespects the architect's vision and ignores the purpose of the space outside our parliament which is intended as a space for people to gather without the risk of being lifted merely for being there. This proposal shows complete disrespect for the architect, his intentions, our magnificent world-class parliament and our citizens.

Alasdair Smith, Eastwood.


I THANK Richard Hyslop (Letters, September 14) for his critique on my letter of September 10 regarding the Falkland Islands.

As regards the “settled view of islanders” to remain a UK Overseas Territory, the same census Mr Hyslop refers to recorded that 59 per cent of residents considered their national identity to be “Falkland Islander”, 29% considered themselves British, 9.8% St Helenian and 5.4% Chilean. Mr Hyslop contends that the island pays their way “without recourse to the UK taxpayer” which is true if one discounts completely the 40-year reliance on a permanent UK military base and everything that goes with it. One imagines that the presence of so many troops contributes significantly directly and indirectly to the island's economy. Medical services on the islands rely heavily on UK-trained staff; I wonder what the Falklands contribute to the cost of training them? The current airport was paid for by the UK taxpayer on land bought from the islanders, the previous airstrip having been constructed by the Argentinian military. To suggest that the islands are completely self-sufficient stretches credibility and ignores the improvements to island infrastructure that have happened since it became a permanent military base.

I fail to see how the thousands of air miles and sea miles involved in maintaining a garrison of 1,200 personnel rotating in and out of the islands and one assumes not just sitting around doing nothing all day contributes in a positive way to climate change. As for biodiversity I would simply ask Mr Hyslop if he has ever visited Scotland and our islands such as St Kilda. I’m sure the thousand or so Falkland Islanders who consider themselves British would be welcomed here if they wished to come home, especially if they can drive a lorry or are good at tennis.

The bottom line is that the UK occupies the Malvinas Islands and our armed forces are stationed there because, as Mr Hyslop states, “there are opportunities for UK companies to participate in major capital projects”. It is in the future financial interests of the Establishment to have dominion over the archipelago; anything else is just hot air.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

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