I AM Labour by background and instinct, and have been for independence for a while now, on the basis of: why wouldn’t you?

But I was dismayed to learn from Dr Gerald Edwards (Letters, September 19) that we would be too poor to manage to be independent.

He says that issues (he makes them out to be problems) like the NHS, free personal care, the postal service, the armed services, pensions, and even house price valuations would mean that it would be just impossible. Or certainly far too expensive to achieve.

Crikey. Who knew?

Now part of me wants independence just to test Dr Edwards' assertions and see if indeed Scotland would be the first country ever to take its independence and then fail.

At least we would be rather a remarkable piece of history and I could regale my grandchildren with that.

There seem to be more Weary Willies and fearties than I had realised, but if it is indeed true that we are too poor, and just not able to do independence successfully then I’ll have to rethink

George Archibald, Lasswade.


FOLLOWING the recent fiasco in Afghanistan there was much agonising and soul-searching on the part of the foreign policy establishments in Britain and the United States as to what had gone wrong. A good deal of the analysis centred on the need for a rethink of the West's strategic priorities and how the West could best promote its values in the wider world. How it could best counter the challenges of China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Islamic extremism.

What was missing from the "analysis", and this was abetted by lazy journalists, was any attempt to define what actually constitutes the West or what Western values actually are. Is Saudi Arabia or Israel part of the West? Did the last US President,who sought to overturn his country's constitution, aim to uphold these values?

"Analysts" however can take comfort from the fact that the problem may becoming simpler. In a national newspaper last weekend a well-known broadcast and newspaper journalist wrote an article under the heading, "France is not a reliable partner to the English-speaking defenders of freedom". In other words only a select number of countries can be relied on to uphold freedom and true values.

The article has relevance in relation to the piece by Iain Macwhirter ("If the English are so progressive, as Brown says, why vote Tory?, September 19) Mr Macwhirter comments that "England is often portrayed as a kind of proto-fascist regime of middle-aged middle-class white men." I do not idealise the Scots nor am I complacent that they are somehow immune from far right ideas but there is something sinister occurring in the mainstream, not the margins, of right-wing English politics. Let's keep it out of Scotland.

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.


AS I looked through the list of government appointments in Boris Johnson’s recent reshuffle, I had a eureka moment. Beyond some leading ministers and a couple of others who had campaigned for Brexit, I had never heard of any of them.

Not a single one of them had come to public attention for arguing strongly and passionately for or against anything. And then the penny dropped. We have such poor government because ministers and their juniors are selected for their complete lack of concern about what actually happens in the real world.

Nor are Holyrood and the other devolved assemblies any better, in fact quite the contrary, for the same process of appointment is in operation, coupled with much smaller and weaker pools of candidates to pick from.

As long as lack of concern for the real world, more often than not coupled with ignorance of it, is the route to political advancement we will be ruinously badly governed.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates.


I WAS much taken aback by the recent report about allowing 12-year-olds to declare the gender they wish to be considered without any consultation with their parents.

That prescription would set in motion a very worrying trend in so many areas. To downplay the importance of parental relationships with their children could easily lead to other societal abuses which would absolve adults with ulterior motives of any blame should the opportunity for such abuses arise. Paedophilia comes to mind as an area which could enter such an arena.

However, the main thrust of my contribution comes down to the part nature plays at the conception of individuals.

All individuals receive an innate chromosomal composition marking them out with a programme to be fully triggered during puberty through their physical development complemented by the hormones nature provides to produce fully-functioning males or females for the perpetuation of our species.

You may have now recognised that I belong to the generation of the dinosaur brigade, which was brought up to accept the incontrovertible facts without which no sense can be made of our universe.

I am not saying that there is no such thing as gender dysphoria, where individuals can feel that their psychological gender identity is completely out of kilter with the physical programming of their biological sex. What I am asserting is that in such cases, non-judgmental counselling needs to take place over a period of time to establish whether this dysphoria is a temporary disturbance or a permanent condition, which can only be remedied through corrective surgery and lifelong supplementary hormonal treatment to override nature's original programming, which will always be in the background.

Parental cooperation is essential in such matters so that a proper decision can be arrived at to ensure that those children undergoing the torments of gender dysphoria can come to a conclusion about the direction they wish to take, having been fully made aware about the consequences following on from such a transformation via surgical and medical procedures.

There should be no public permission granted to ignore the participation of parents in their children's futures.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


OUR self-inflicted energy crisis has been hit by a perfect storm. Wind farms have stood idle, a fire in our key cable to France’s nuclear power will interrupt supplies till next spring, post-Covid economic recovery and tightening Russian and Irish supplies mean gas prices will rocket. The cost of both heating and lighting our homes will ensure fuel poverty is the “Scottish Disease” for years to come.

Yet it needn’t have been such a shambles. Twenty years ago Holyrood’s first scientific adviser, the distinguished St Andrews Physics Professor Wilson Sibbett, warned that climate hysteria was a fad, not a science; that energy’s priorities were reliability and affordability; that for Scotland with its vast shale reserves in industrial Fife and the Central Lowlands, fracking ticked all the residential and industrial boxes.

Mocking Heath-Robison devices like windmills, solar panels and tidal barrages, he observed the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stone and that the fossil fuel era would pass not because of political diktats but as a result of unexpected advances and human ingenuity. Scientifically-challenged politicos insist there will be no black-outs – I trust you have paraffin stoves and propane lanterns in your store-room.

Dr John Cameron, St Andrews.


NEWS that 300,000 people in Scotland are unable to their pay rent or mortgage is extremely unsettling. Losing your home is always an emergency and we must prepare for the tsunami of evictions which are inevitable as the additional protections for tenants, introduced in response to the pandemic, expire. Tenants across the country are building up unmanageable arrears and are clearly in need of support.

The Scottish Government must act now to avoid this situation getting any worse. Thousands of families and individuals urgently need the tenant grant to help them get out of debt, and keep the roof over their heads, especially at a time when the £20 cut to Universal Credit and an energy price hike are about to bite.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that good housing is a matter of life and death. But we must not forget that Scotland had a housing emergency before the pandemic hit. With thousands of people losing their jobs, and many battling with rent arrears, we need action to make sure this economic crisis doesn’t deepen our housing emergency.

Alison Watson, Director, Shelter Scotland, Edinburgh.


I ASSUME the television programme Submarine – Life under the Waves (Channel 5, Monday) was an accurate portrayal of activities on HMS Trenchant, this hugely expensive vessel, bristling with technology in the Operations Room, and with sophisticated weaponry on board.

Within hours of casting off we observed an engineer carrying out the mundane task of unblocking a toilet waste pipe which had rendered all seven WCs to be out of action for the crew of 100 submariners, for more than five hours, partly during a period of "High Alert".

Whilst great attention is given to the nuclear armaments on board, it is surprising that the simple task of clearing, scouring and checking the toilet connections is not carried our every time the vessel is in port.

Robin M Brown, Milngavie.