THE Deposit Return Scheme, like the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, has at its core good intentions that would be widely supported if implemented well (“Small traders ‘shun DRS’”, The Herald, March 2).

Yet, like so much from the current Scottish Government, the best of intentions can be undermined by a failure to properly listen to the genuine concerns of those simply trying to avoid the pitfalls of badly-devised laws and regulations. The SNP under Nicola Sturgeon has developed a tin ear to those who do not conform to the leadership’s preferred version of existing or future outcomes.

In all walks of life, there is little chance of getting things right if you are not prepared to be honest about where you have gone wrong in the past. That is why, despite lengthy and expensive rounds of consultations and extensive parliamentary debate, new initiatives from the Scottish Government so often appear deeply flawed when it comes to the point when they are tested by reality.

The conundrum facing the three candidates vying to take over as First Minister is that what Scotland needs now is an open-minded and frank assessment of where the SNP’s leadership has failed us, combined with a determination to right the wrongs of the past. This is the complete opposite of the narrative that the SNP membership has been fed over the last many years.

The “we know best” attitude of those who lead us more often than not has failed Scotland badly. It will take someone of exceptional ability to break free from the tyranny of groupthink that has become the SNP’s hallmark.
Keith Howell, West Linton

The Greens are damaging indy

THIS time it’s Lorna Slater who has been caught out, again, being economical with the truth. The number of companies signed up to her shambolic, and potentially financially-catastrophic for many companies, Deposit Return Scheme, is a small percentage of what she tells us.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that because of their lack of credible policies both SNP and Green MPs and MSPs have to resort to presenting fanciful and wildly inaccurate statements simply to fool the voter into thinking everything’s okay.

They may be fooling their supporters who blindly follow every word they say but not those of us who are wise to their tactics. Much to my delight it appears that the two Green MSPs in the SNP Cabinet are doing more damage than good to the independence cause. Keep it up, Ms Slater, you’re doing a grand job.
Ian Balloch, Grangemouth

Hold election on October 19

NEIL Mackay ("Scotland needs a reset. It’s time to call an election", The Herald, March 2) makes the case for a Scottish Parliamentary election to allow Scottish voters the opportunity to legitimise (or not) the new leader of the SNP as First Minister. The current lame duck FM, Ms Sturgeon, has stated her preference for the next General Election to be a de facto referendum and had alternatively planned for an actual independence referendum on October 19 this year.

The new SNP leader should boldly seize the initiative, call an election for that date and unilaterally declare it as a de facto referendum.

By that time the leader and the wider Yes movement should have their economic case for secession in place, with plans for a Scottish currency and £50-£100 billion reserves in a central bank, a cut to Scotland’s massive fiscal and trade deficits and a replacement source for the annual £24 billion fiscal transfer from Westminster.

I had been looking forward to an election-free year but these are exciting times and there is a chance that the complacent nationalist establishment could be upset.
James Quinn, Lanark

Lift the ban on dissent

I UNDERSTAND that the SNP’s standing orders for MPs and MSPs, strengthened in 2015, ban them from criticising any party policy in public. Unless their parliamentarians have since been freed from this authoritarian gag on free speech, all three of the leadership candidates must be facing internal disciplinary hearings as all of them have spoken out against current SNP policy.

Even the Sturgeon continuity candidate, Humza Yousaf, has been critical of the bottle recycling policy, albeit somewhat timidly. And, along with Kate Forbes, by his criticism he has also played fast and loose with collective ministerial responsibility.

I trust that all three candidates will now publicly state that, if they become leader and First Minister, they will remove the gag from their MPs and MSPs and relax the collective responsibility rules. The removal of the gag would be good for open and honest democracy, while the easing of collective responsibility would avoid ministers having to arrange convenient meetings to avoid votes that might embarrass them.

If they don’t remove the gag, the first act of the new leader must surely be to expel themselves from the party along with their two opponents and many of their supporters.
Alistair Easton, Edinburgh

UK did not suppress McCrone 

STAN Grodynski (Letters, March 1) repeats the myth that somehow Gavin McCrone’s report back in 1974 was kept secret from the Scots in an attempt to suppress the economic benefits of the North Sea oil and gas.

Whether the publication of his original report would have made any difference depends of course on which side of the independence argument one supports. However, what is not in dispute is that according to Professor McCrone’s recent publication (After Brexit – The Economics of Independence), his original report was not suppressed by the UK Government.

This is a direct quote from his book: "There have been suggestions in the press that my paper was suppressed or in some way hushed up. This was not so. It was a confidential briefing for ministers and never intended for publication, just as other briefing papers for ministers are confidential." Basically he was advising the Government that it had underestimated the economic benefits of the North Sea and must ensure the extraction was managed successfully.

As regards the special arrangements negotiated by Rishi Sunak (red and green lanes for goods entering Northern Ireland from the UK) without jeopardising the Northern Ireland Protocol which is designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement to ensure the border remains open, the current agreement proved untenable due to the very complicated arrangements (excess bureaucratic checks to conform with EU regulations) for goods going straight from the UK to Northern Ireland as a final destination.

Clearly what has been proposed by Mr Sunak is a big step forward for Northern Ireland (UK internal and EU single markets) which should greatly benefit it going forward and should result in a substantial increase in investment whilst cementing its bond with the UK.

However, an independent Scotland would be faced by an entirely different situation compared to Northern Ireland. For starters we would be leaving the UK (Northern Ireland will not) which will automatically trigger major repercussions – like for example leaving the internal market, ditching the pound (or opting to go for sterlingisation) and be outside the EU for an unspecified number of years.

Just like the EU, the UK would insist on protecting its market with similar safeguards demanded by the EU, which in all probability would require a hard border.
Ian Lakin, Aberdeen

Scots must assert rights

IF anyone in Scotland is bemused by the fact that Rishi Sunak has been so generous to the people in Northern Ireland by securing such an amazing deal for them (Sunak in storm over NI’S ‘special status’ after Windsor agreement", The Herald, March 1) in comparison to his dismissive response to the destructive impact of Brexit on our nation they must look at the heart of the matter, which is the Good Friday Agreement.

That is not an agreement which resolved the differences between nationalists and republicans; it is merely a cease-fire agreement to keep the guns and bombs off the streets until such time as the inevitable unification of Ireland is brought about democratically. It is the ever-present fear of a return to armed conflict which gives Northern Ireland an advantage over Scotland.

The people of Scotland vote with crosses on ballot papers rather than with guns and bombs – and long may that continue – but they must now realise that they need to exercise that power to assert their right to self-determination, setting aside any distracting political loyalties or affiliations.
Willie Maclean, Milngavie

Read more letters: So now we know: indy doesn't mean a hard border


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