MY primary school days were very long ago, but I can recall a class being instructed to debate the question of which was most important: money, power or happiness. Even at that age I felt that there was something wrong with the question, for “happiness” is not on the same level as the other two: the people who make “money” or “power” their principal goals do so in the belief that their “happiness” will be increased by the fact of having a lot of “power” and/or “money”.

A similar issue arises with the debate on the importance to Scotland of independence. Of course, when worrying about whether our children’s schools are adequately staffed and equipped, when a doctor will be available to treat our illness or injury, how we are going to pay our next heating bill and the like, we are not thinking of how to change the constitution. But it does not in the least follow from this that independence is less important than those other matters; for the fact which appears to elude John Milne (Letters, January 20) and others is that the recovery of our independence is a precondition of our being able to address them effectively.

As long as we are shackled by the Union, we will never escape the effects of subordination to a sleazy and incompetent Government with neither understanding of nor concern for Scotland’s needs. Independence is the most important issue facing Scotland today, if those other issues are to be dealt with.

Derrick McClure, Aberdeen.


ALEX Gallagher's long epistle (January 20) on why Scotland should remain subservient to Westminster rule falls on every one of his assertions.

On Scotland’s economic case for independence, Mr Gallagher should read the House of Commons Library Report on oil and gas taxation published last November in which the Resolution Foundation analysis predicts £20 billion from the North Sea in 2023, which more than covers the £15bn deficit Mr Gallagher quotes.

Or he can read which shows that, despite the UK’s benign taxation policy when compared to Norway, $872 billion has flowed to London from Scotland’s waters since 1998.

An energy-rich independent Scotland would be one of the richest countries in Europe, as Scotland produces the vast bulk of the UK’s oil and gas and has 20% of the EU’s total planned offshore wind power, 10% of the EU’s wave power and is a net exporter of electricity. Per head of population, Scotland exports twice as much as the rest of the UK, mainly due to our food and drink industries, plus our tourism, life sciences and gaming industries, resulting in a healthy balance of trade surplus.

Given our vast renewable energy potential and a highly educated population there is no logical reason why an independent Scotland can’t match the economic growth of Denmark, Finland, or Ireland in the EU and independence is the only route available to reverse the UK’s Brexit catastrophe which is costing £40bn a year in lost taxes.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.


ALEX Gallagher points out that Great Britain is “65 million people crammed on to a small island”. However, that ignores the variable population density between say London and the south-east and the Highlands, an aspect sadly paralleled by regional distribution of income.

He points to the claimed £15 billion of subsidy from Westminster which would be lost after independence. But this ignores that the source of the figure, GERS, itself makes clear this is Scotland’s estimated financial situation under current constitutional arrangements not independence, which is not part of its remit.

There is, he claims, “no historic case” for independence since “Scotland is not a colony”. However, as one of the oldest European countries there most certainly is a case that is historic. Historically Scotland is a country, which for the last 316 years has been part of the union that is the United Kingdom. What the United Kingdom has not been historically is a "unitary state" as Alister Jack referred to it in the last few days. There is no historic case for this.

There is no democratic case, Mr Gallagher tells us, since we had our referendum in 2014 and lost. But is democracy only a series of events? Or is it a process, a procedure, that determines how these questions should be answered, with the possibility that the electorate could change their minds in the future?

Cognate to his claim of no democratic case, is that there is “no legal case”. However, this is only because the Supreme Court determined that the Scotland Act never delegated the powers necessary for Scotland’s electorate to determine its own future without the OK from Westminster.

Lastly, the whole tenor of Mr Gallagher’s letter is that there is no case for independence. Perhaps we should consider too what the case is for remaining part of the UK. Mark Blyth pointed out in August last year that “Scotland suffers from being attached to a broken debt and consumption-driven national growth model called the UK that teeters on the brink of collapse …. If you think the UK has inflation now, just wait.”

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


Scottish Labours party political broadcast was fronted by Sir Keir Starmer rather than Anas Sarwar

Scottish Labour's party political broadcast was fronted by Sir Keir Starmer rather than Anas Sarwar



"THIS is a party political broadcast by the Scottish Labour Party," said the BBC Scotland television announcer (January 18).

Viewers have a quick choice to make at this stage: switch off, put on the kettle, or look for hope and inspiration from leader Anas Sarwar.

But who pops up on screen? The UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. And I thought it was a political broadcast on behalf of the Scottish Labour Party. Stupid me.

Sir Keir's opening words? "I grew up in a pebble-dashed semi sharing a bedroom with my brother..."

If this was an attempt to prove working-class credentials it was an abject failure.

For the first minute, more than a quarter of the entire broadcast, we were treated to Sir Keir reminiscing about his dad working in a factory and his mum as a nurse and that sometimes they couldn't pay the bills.

When it came to Scotland it was so predictable. "The people of Scotland are being let down by a Tory Government in Westminster and the SNP Government in Scotland".

Labour would fix all that, he informed us. But details of how were not included, just some frothy words about challenges and aspirations.

What is important here is not really the content; who listens to these political propaganda pieces anyway? The key is who gave the first Scottish Labour Party broadcast of the New Year, and it wasn't the leader of the Scottish Labour Party. The keys stay at Westminster.

Andy Stenton, Glasgow.


HOLYROOD debated the Gender Recognition Reform Bill in a full house with every party having their say and a free vote thereafter. It was passed by a large majority that included members from every Scottish party.

This was not a ground-breaking bill. It was one that 33 other countries had already debated and passed into law. If England has had no trouble with visitors from those countries why should they suddenly feel that Scots might be a problem?

Most recently Ireland passed their Gender Recognition Bill on July 15, 2015. They have free borders with Northern Ireland and folk come and go there without any difficulties arising. Why should the English find visiting Scots any different?

We are now a devolved country with our own parliament and it is time that Westminster respected our legislation. I hope that our courts will help them remember that.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh.


I AM in agreement with Catriona Clark (Letters, January 20) regarding the raising of the pension age. This doubly disadvantages shift workers and manual workers, whose life expectancy is cut short by several years primarily due to the working conditions they have to endure. As a society we should be reducing the retirement age for both men and women to 60 years. This would provide employment opportunities for younger people. This is affordable; the UK is the fifth-richest country in the world.

Jim Mackenzie, Edinburgh.


THE aftermath of the Cameron House Hotel fire ("‘Number of defects’ contributed to tragic Cameron House blaze”, The Herald, January 12, and Letters, January 13) brought to mind an experience I had as a child of eight when the Aviemore Hotel went up in flames in September 1950.

Luckily my parents, siblings and I escaped the blaze, which totally destroyed the building – but two guests who were unable to get out lost their lives, just as at Cameron House.

It was discovered during the inquiry afterwards that the blaze was caused by a member of staff cleaning the fireplaces early in the morning and putting the still-warm ashes in the salvage store alongside flammable material.

I understand that was the cause of the Cameron House fire and would suggest that lessons were not learned and probably never are.

Douglas Lindsay, Dunblane.


I NOTE with interest your report on the effect of Covid lockdowns on infants' communications skills ("Lockdown affected speech skills", The Herald, January 20). It is unfortunate that time or perhaps money restricted researchers into only studying the youngest groups. Evidence is definitely forming that the spoken language crisis has reached critical mass amongst teenagers.

During like a recent like interview with like pupils like heading for their like Na 4 exams like there was like consternation that like examiners would like not like be on the like same wavelength as the like students sitting like these exams. There was like further like concern that like lecturers at like tertiary places of like education would like be like unable to like communicate with the incoming like students and it was like suggested that like courses could be like run to like bring these like lecturers like up to speed in like their daily like communications.

Or is there the merciful possibility that this verbal diarrhoea does not actually find its way into the written word?

Andy Trombala, Stirling.


IN response to both Mark Smith ("God save Scotland – An idea for the new national anthem", The Herald, January 16) and R Russell Smith (Letters, January 19), dare I suggest that Paisley’s finest son, Gerry Rafferty, showed remarkable prescience regarding Indyref2 when he penned Get It Right Next Time.

Iain Colvin, Bridge of Weir.