REBECCA McQuillan ("Gordon Brown is right – Scots and English share more than divides us", The Herald, September 17) agrees with Gordon Brown about common values shared by Scots, English and Welsh (what, no Irish?).

So do I, but the problem for this trope as a political driver, is that these values are universal in human societies. France and the Republic of Haiti even have as a national motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”.

The real problem in the UK is that over the last100 years or more, the accumulation of economic, political and media power in one corner of this island has been relentless.

Mr Brown needs much better arguments to convince Scots that a natural desire for self-government is not the solution to this. Before that, he would have to convince those in the Home Counties that an equitable sharing of wealth and power with other parts of the UK is for the good of all. As we see with the Boris Johnson “Levelling Up” policy, this is a fantasy.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


REBECCA McQuillan reported on the efforts of Gordon Brown to point out how much the Scots have in common with English people. One area where a difference is clear is in relation to attitudes to Europe.

Robert Louis Stevenson once observed that the Scots “love change and travel for themselves”. From the Middle Ages Scottish traders travelled throughout Europe selling a wide variety of goods. Many Scottish students attended European universities to enhance their education, Scottish mercenaries in large numbers served in European navies and armies, such as those of Russia and Sweden, and many Scots served in senior positions in European finance, diplomacy and armed forces. Moreover, there are a number of countries in Europe where Scots have experienced a particularly warm welcome because of Scotland’s long-standing affinities with Europe.

If ever one wished to have confirmation of the different attitudes to Europe within the UK, one had it in the results of the EU Referendum in 2016, when a majority in England (53.4%) voted to leave the EU and a majority in Scotland (62 %) voted to remain. The UK decision to leave has proved to be one of the most persuasive arguments for the SNP in promoting Scottish independence.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

How Federalism could work

REBECCA McQuillan produced a fair comparison between Boris Johnson/Toryism and NicolaSturgeon/nationalism but she limited the comparison to “ us and [ the English] them”. We have a lot in common with the rest of Europe and the British Commonwealth too.

Scotland and all Commonwealth nations never had an Elizabeth I. We were never successfully invaded by so many European countries and our national religion/church was not founded by a king who only wanted a divorce when beheading a wife became unseemly.

Unfortunately, and unlike our Commonwealth friends, we are still dominated by a government solely with an English majority and overall financial control.

If Gordon Brown would promote the Australian governance system whereby each state (in our case each home nation) elected three members to a Senate in place of the House of Lords then we might agree with his plan for federalism (as well as getting rid of an unelected, privileged and expensive second chamber with limited powers).

JB Drummond, Kilmarnock.


IAN Moir (Letters, September 17) bemoans the fact that Scotland has had to call on English power stations to guarantee uninterrupted power for the COP26 conference. I’m assuming that he is not a great fan of renewable energy generation by wind power, but he is decrying an industry that, with the dead hand of Westminster on the Scottish exchequer, is not yet a fully-functioning sector. Like the GERS figures, it is a picture of Scotland as she is now, not as an independent country. Presently, control of energy is reserved to Westminster.

To complement and make wind power a reliable source, its output must be matched by storage capacity. This can be in many forms, such as pump-up hydro or gravity. However, there must also be investment in other forms of continuous generation such as tidal and, together with storage, this can form a reliable power supply for Scotland, though for this, we need the fiscal control of our economy to provide the necessary government investment in renewable technology and this can only come with independence.

Incidentally, last year, 97 per cent of Scotland’s power was provided by renewable generation and Scotland has also been an exporter of electricity to England for some years. As the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy states, “in 2019, Scotland exported a record 31.7 per cent of its generation in net transfers to England and Northern Ireland totalling 15.9 TWh. Scotland’s renewable capacity has expanded dramatically in recent years, offsetting the fall in fossil fuel generation to result in an increase in total generation of 9.4 per cent from 2016 to 2019. In this period, Scotland’s electricity demand fell by 5.0 per cent, resulting in an increase in electricity available for exports.”

It seems that England needs our generating capacity more than we need theirs.

Tony Perridge, Inverness.


THE proposal to build a bridge/tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland ("The Big Read: ‘Building a Boris Bridge is not a stupid idea – it would create thousands of jobs and revive the economy", The Herald, January 18) was mooted some years ago and has since been promoted by the Prime Minister and debated vigorously. No matter that is possible by certain individuals,it is totally preposterous and impracticable for reasons too numerous to give mention. This folly is not a new concept with similar proposals as far back as the 1890s, which I detailed in a letter published in this newspaper on January 25, 2018.

Some of the cost given as £20 billion would be far better spent on building bridges as far as practical between beleaguered islands off the West Coast of Scotland that are currently being squeezed out of life and existence by the ongoing ferry service dispute. Practical and necessary terminal facilities to deal with a new build of ferries would also be welcome. A proportion of this amount of money could also be a far better proposition in creating a lasting solution to the A83 whether by new roadworks or, indeed, by tunnelling. There is much that is useful for aspiring engineers to bring about.

I fully understand that the south-west of Scotland is a forgotten part of the country in more ways than one. Ignored, by and large, by tourists and visitors there is more that could be done other than what might just come about with creation of a fixed link to/from Northern Ireland.

John Macnab, Falkirk.


WHAT a difference a Dey makes except that, sadly, it has not. Our new Minister for Transport, Graeme Dey, has bottled out on the opportunity to make a transformative change to ferry procurement and has, instead, taken dated and expensive advice from CMAL, the Scottish Government procurement agency for ferries, an agency which has, over many years, presided over an incredible decline in the quality and efficiency of our inter-island network.

While this Government's record on procurement is poor, to say the least, CMAL has plumbed new depths in this regard and it beggars belief that its advice is given credence.

CMAL is, undoubtedly, smarting that Pentland Ferries has stolen a 15-year march on it in the transition to catamarans. The ordering of more monohull ferries will extend that deficit to some 40vyears, if not more. The probable £100 million cost of these two craft for the Islay route, assuming they come out on budget – a big assumption – could have purchased four catamarans of similar capacity without the need for further extensive and expensive dredging and port infrastructure works while offering greatly reduced operating costs.

CMAL’s implacable resistance to the catamaran concept, a concept now well proven by Pentland Ferries, is evidenced by its extraordinary and contrived rejection of the Mull and Iona Ferries Committee-sourced 80-car catamaran with the modest, fully compliant, price of £11.5m. It is time for CMAL’s profligacy with our money to be curbed once and for all and for the Scottish Government to seek professional advice elsewhere.

J Patrick Maclean, Oban.