LESLEY Riddoch ("Time to develop a green strategy for food security by simply developing our own", The Herald, March 6) is spot on. When we look at our empty supermarket shelves, waiting for produce to arrive from France, Spain, Italy or further afield, and then try to understand why so many Brits voted for Brexit and still try to justify it, why shouldn't we tackle the crisis head on?

I was working in Qatar six years ago when the small, but yes very wealthy country once run by Britain, was blockaded by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others because of tribal jealousy and rivalry. Goods weren't getting through. What happened? Qatar decided "we'll do it ourselves" and farms were set up, orchards, croplands, fields in the desert were suddenly filled with home-produced vegetables. It worked.

There is no reason why Scotland can't do the same if huge chunks of land owned by millionaires who don't really give a damn about this country are made to pay proper taxes and have to contribute to the wellbeing of the people who actually live and work here.

But, and here's the big but, farmers and manufacturers are struggling as it is to deal with what they are actually producing because of immigration laws which are going to get even tougher, red tape and bureaucracy, advocated by people who should not be given airtime any more. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Suella Braverman... the list goes on. The sad thing is the Labour Party under Sir Keir Starmer doesn't appear any better.

This is why Scotland has to stand up for itself. That doesn't necessarily mean the SNP. It means an independent Scotland by people of all political persuasions who believe in this great land.
Andy Stenton, Glasgow

Double standards of SNP pair

I'M increasingly concerned by the apparent double standards of leading SNP leadership candidates Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf. Forbes' religion, her belief set, and presumably her all-encompassing moral compass, mean she personally opposes equal marriage, abortion and children being born outside of wedlock.

Yet she maintains she'd entirely ignore all this were she First Minister, and pursue a completely different, more liberal set of values and policies. But why should we trust someone with such staggering double standards to do any job, let alone hold Scotland's key political role?

Mr Yousaf seems to me equally self-contradictory, just less transparent about it. He – entirely by chance, he insists – missed parliamentary votes on equal marriage and transgender rights, certainly suggesting a personal stance in opposition to these liberal initiatives. Yet he claims he supports both pieces of legislation and would champion similarly liberal legislation in the future, when hitherto his voting record suggests he has not.

I can understand why many SNP members, with third candidate Ash Regan in my opinion trotting out frankly bizarre views, feel this contest traps the party somewhere between the Devil and the deep blue sea.
Martin Redfern, Melrose

Read more letters: Why I'm having to give up on my dream of independence

Keep religion out of politics

A MOMENT of national soul-searching is clearly under way as we take stock of the religious beliefs professed by two of the three candidates to lead the country. A couple who love each other may not marry if they are of the same sex. A woman may not halt the development of an embryo in her own body.

When prospective leaders are unwilling to decry the kind of irrationality that is clearly at odds with a practical orientation towards a challenging future (that of our world, as things currently stand), it’s no time to get philosophical, unless you mean the late-18th century variety, and the pivotal role played by David Hume and others in pulling the world out of a morass of superstition.

We’ve managed to make critical thinking a cornerstone of the new Curriculum for Excellence in Scottish schools, and young people seem to be turning away from religion in ever greater numbers. Maybe it’s time for our political class to catch up.

Some governments, notably in Scandinavia, legislate for improvements in the health and wellbeing of their citizens without interference from any religious body. In these countries no beggar sits on a cardboard box in the rain, no child goes to bed cold and hungry and the income of the richest is measured in multiples of 10 compared to that of the poorest – not in hundreds.

Would that we in Scotland could emulate them.
Clare Marsh, Giffnock

A matter of priorities

YOUR latest revelations tell us we have a Culture Secretary who cannot participate in fiscal decisions affecting more than 20% of his budget ("Revealed: Robertson ruled out of key calls", The Herald, March 6). He cannot participate in any decisions about national art galleries, museums or libraries. I assume he’s only working a four-day week?

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Humza Yousaf is setting up a new Scottish Stazi, or Rebuttal Service as he calls it, to “respond swiftly to any misleading claims against the Yes campaign” ("Yousaf: I will hold independence workshops", The Herald, March 6).

Maybe he could set up a swift response team to clean our filthy streets and roads, or sort out the massive problems facing our health service or ditch the ridiculous DRS scheme?

One can but dream.
John Gilligan, Ayr

Kate Forbes' flawed thinking

KATE Forbes is standing to be leader of the SNP and suggests finance is her thing. My one contact makes me doubt that.

I wrote to her to complain that with the complete absence of the five-year revaluations that were supposed to happen, what we all pay in council tax is still based on temporary valuations set in 1991 (about when she was born). In truth properties that may have been comparable then have in the meantime diverged massively, so the tax we pay is arbitrary.

The reply was that the Scottish Government had no plans to address this because the administrative costs might be up to £8.8 million. The last report I saw suggested that revaluation would yield for local government some additional £600m.

So Ms Forbes' financial acumen tells her that spending £8.8m of public money to yield £600m is not sensible spending, whereas it is sensible for the Scottish Government to spend £30m-£52m on the failed Bifab support, some £30m on the failed Ferguson Marine, some £39m (and the rest) on a limping Prestwick Airport, and some £250m on not getting ferries.

I suspect the real issue is that having failed to keep the system up to date, she is now feart of the ballot box, so is prepared to allow thousands of households just to carry on unfairly paying out massively too much because of historic bandings. I hope that is the real reason, because the alternative is that she has no financial nous and heaven help us all.
Ian N Steele, Kirkcudbright

Read more letters: It is clear that McCrone's report was suppressed by the UK

Devolution has failed us

THE devolved settlement has failed Scotland utterly. That is not to say devolution is not a good idea. Many good ideas fail and need to be improved upon to work.

Why failure? We have a parliament designed for coalition Government but we have a single-issue SNP government dominating parliament and policy. We have the other representatives of the 50%+ population unable to form a coherent opposition coalition that would be meaningful to an electorate.

We have a voting system and representation system which creates and maintains a centralised political stasis. This suits the parties and politicians as well as all the paraphernalia of government that underpins and feeds the political body, paid for by the body politic.

What business in its right mind would invest here? Scotland needs to commit to either the UK or independence to provide a stable environment that allows people and business to thrive. The outcome of that choice is another issue of course. But we risk economic extinction by our failure to decide.

Looking forward, if peak SNP has been reached, the future looks as bleak. Independence going nowhere, no workable non-SNP Holyrood coalition practicable. The SNP minority Government sniping, obstructionalist, exceptionalist, and anti-Union rhetoric averse to co-operation with rUK, means a downward economic spiral.

It is ironic that a devolved government has centralised so much. But localisation and devolution to the regions (remember them, bring them back?) offers a way forward, where proper politics can work out and proper criticism of Holyrood can fester and induce change by challenge. Above all give voters a meaningful vote.

Decentralisation, more local funding and governmental reform are essential, we need to stop blaming others for our problems and solve them ourselves from the grass roots up. Few solutions from top down ever get buy-in and therefore fail.
Gavin Findlay, Boghead

Read more letters: Why can't SNP candidates focus on the truly pressing matters?


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