Don't get distracted by indyref2 ­– Nicola Sturgeon has a plan

I DISAGREE with Iain Macwhirter (In post-Brexit Britain Nicola Sturgeon can’t keep telling her troops indyref2 is round the corner. It isn’t, The Herald on Sunday, January 19). I suspect Nicola has carefully worked out her strategy. She is much cleverer than any other of the party leaders in the UK.

What she is doing is jousting with Boris Johnson and temporising with her over-enthusiastic supporters. She knows full well Johnson will not authorise indyref2 in 2020 or even 2021, and she knows that indyref2 in the near future would be lost and would prevent an indyref3 in the foreseeable future.

What Nicola Sturgeon foresees is that, if Treasury forecasts and fears of Scottish entrepreneurs prove to be even half right, Brexit will be hugely damaging to the Scottish economy, particularly to small businesses. By her reckoning, the right time for indyref2 will be 2023 when all the news will be of widespread closures and layoffs.

It would need only another 10 or 15 % of Scottish voters to decide that independence inside the EU is a better prospect than dependence on a UK outside the EU for the pro-independence vote to reach 60%. Surgeon did say, after becoming First Minister, that a 60% vote for independence would settle the matter convincingly.

The person she should watch is Dominic Cummings. He could point out to Johnson that indyref2 now would most likely result in a victory for himself and his Government. But he could also point out that Scottish independence would permanently remove 50 or so non-Unionist Scottish MPs from the House of Commons thereby giving Johnson an even larger majority.

Cummings could point out too that Whitehall would no longer have to provide around £10 billion annually to the Scottish Government to cover its current account deficit. As for the UK losing “all its nuclear weapons”, it would not, as it would pay the Scottish Government a rent for the site, say £3bn a year, which a financially hard-pressed Scottish Government would gladly accept even if it meant shafting the Greens. This would be rather like the British naval bases in Ireland and elsewhere being retained after independence.

Iain Macwhirter should not forget that Johnson is an unscrupulous charlatan whose guiding political principle is his own success. Johnson would as readily shaft the Scottish unionists as he shafted the Ulster unionists.

C J Woods

Celbridge, Co Kildare

Who needs who in UK?

IS anybody else noticing how dialogue is shifting at the moment on the economic balance between Scotland and England?

For years we have been told ad nauseam that Scotland could not survive without England. Now, suddenly, even Iain Macwhirter is saying in this week's The Herald on Sunday that there is no chance of the UK letting Scotland go because the Trident base, income from oil and our other strong exports are just too valuable to the UK.

Study of the UK economy shows current total debt standing at £1.78 trillion and likely to rise. Cost of servicing the debt annually is £45 billion, of which Scotland pays its annual share of approximately £4.5bn.

Everything in the English garden is not rosy. With Scotland due to reach 100% renewable energy this year, Scotland is the country rich in resources. Shout it from the rooftops.

Susan Grant


• The British/English Parliament has peddled via the state-run media the myth that Scotland is subsidised by England. The same British/English Nationalists managed to convince a majority in England to leave the EU by saving £8 billion a year – and now the same British/English Nationalists are saying no to Scotland holding a referendum that could save them £13bn a year. They are even passing an act through Parliament that all future referendums must have a 60% vote to secure a win.

Isn't this enough evidence for all in the UK that they have been lied to for decades by the British/English Parliament. It's either that or you believe Westminster is this wonderful kind generous institution that doesn't like auld Granny Smith having a spare bedroom but loves to subside a whole country.

If you believe that then you are far too gone for help.

Rod Selbie


Monarchy and a matter of faith

I WOULD like to comment on the excellent and robust article by Neil Mackay (House of Love?, The Herald on Sunday, January 19), and share some information regarding the phrase “Defender of the Faith”.

During extensive travels to former East Germany, together with detailed research I carried out in preparation for my lecture on Martin Luther, I uncovered comprehensive clarification on how the phrase came about. Since Henry VIII hated the religious revolution being created by the monk Martin Luther, Henry tried to portray himself as a heroic defender of the Catholic faith and commissioned a special book to be presented to Pope Leo X, praising the Pope and the Catholic Church.

In return, it was Pope Leo who conferred the title Defender of the Faith on Henry. Defender of the Catholic faith. When Henry failed to get his marriage annulled, he broke with Rome, destroyed the monasteries and set up the Church of England. Pope Leo immediately revoked the title and conferred it on James V of Scotland, father of Mary, Queen of Scots. The English parliament reintroduced the term in 1544. Cromwell revoked it in 1653 and it only came back into general use in 1660 during the reign of the Scottish King Charles II.

Personally I would like our Prince Charles to do away with the title altogether since Great Britain has many religions, but as the phrase Dei Gra Reg Fid Def is plastered on every coin in the realm, that might be a tough one to win.

Kathy Crawford Hay


Flying the flag for jingoism

I WOULD like to thank Ruth Marr for answering a question that I have wondered over for a long time, namely when do politicians have their sense of irony switched off. From Ms Marr’s letter of January 19 concerning Saltires and Union Flags, it would appear irony is removed when you become a card-carrying member of a political party.

While the sight of thousands of Saltires gives her a warm, fuzzy feeling the sight of British supermarkets using the Union Flag to promote British products seems to offend her to the core. At the time of writing, the Union Flag is the flag of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of which Scotland is a constituent part.

I am well aware that the Scottish SNP Government and their supporters like to say that Scotland is a warm and welcoming country. Maybe not so much if you are one of the 55% who don’t want independence.

Jingoism is jingoism, no matter what flag it is wrapped up in.

Margaret Johnston


We're a nation, not a state

IT'S time to talk federation in the UK. The First Minister has already made a mark in history and can make a greater mark yet.

No-one has ever denied the nationhood of Scotland. It’s not the same thing as a state.

There was a known German nation for literally thousands of years before a couple of large Germanic regions became states in the 19th century.

The greatest thing the First Minister can achieve is a federal freedom to keep Scotland in the European Single Market with free movement of citizens. After that the day job has greater things yet awaiting.

The richest nations on Earth do not need deep-hidden poverty on the edges of dozens of cities. But that’s what we are, and that’s what we have, below the radar of politics.

Tim Cox

Bern, Switzerland

Time for a smoke (and vape) free Scotland

The World Health Organisation has declared that e-cigarettes are "not safe" but are harmful. Vaping is particularly risky for the developing brain, can damage babies in the womb and cause heart disease and lung disorders.

In our streets the vapers emit huge clouds of noxious fumes that people have to walk through. It is not only vapers but tobacco smokers, standing outside pubs and restaurants, are equally guilty and also throw their stubs on the ground.

The Scottish Government could steal a march on Westminster by banning vaping and smoking on our streets and Nicola Sturgeon could proudly boast "Scotland under the SNP has the best no vaping, no smoking policy in the whole world". Now that the public would love to see.

Clark Cross


A wonderful article

What a delight to read about Peta’s founder, Ingrid Newkirk, in Sunday’s paper (She talks for the animals, January 19). I loved hearing the anecdotes from Newkirk’s childhood, and learning more about the work Peta does around the world.

Anyone who wants to learn more about how to protect animals must read her new book, AnimalKind, which gives which gives fascinating insight as to how complex and clever animals are, and then also provides practical easy ways to help them in everyday life.

James Fraser


One politician worth celebrating

Regarding your article "Is your MP a career politician?" (The Herald on Sunday, January 19), I think it can be helpful if MPs have been in paid employment, either as councillors or working as researchers or parliamentary assistants prior to their election. It must mean that they are more likely to know what they are going into, and it should be easier for them to settle down with their new responsibilities.

Scotland's MPs come from diverse backgrounds, which surely is a good thing, and your article suggest that only John McNally, MP for Falkirk, "has a traditional blue-collar trade". However, it should also be acknowledged that McNally, formerly a local business owner and a highly popular local councillor, held his Falkirk seat at last month's General Election with a majority of 14,948, the largest majority of any MP in Scotland.

Ruth Marr


This is science – believe it

CLARK Cross, in his letter on climate change (The Herald on Sunday, January 19), resorts to the old controversialist strategy of “blame the messenger” – if you don’t like the message, it’s the messenger to blame, so you attack that target. In that way, you don’t have to confront the evidence.

The vast majority of climate scientists are agreed that we are facing a climate crisis. I believe that most of these scientists are people of integrity, who use their skill and knowledge in the service of their fellow people. So when they tell us that we need to take action to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, I believe that we need to heed them urgently.

Clark Cross would have us believe that these scientists are part of a huge conspiracy designed to serve their own selfish advantage. Such an explanation is too preposterous to be credible and should be dismissed as such. I suggest that he tries to tell the people of New South Wales and Victoria that climate change is a fantasy and see how many people believe him.

Michael Martin


Scrutiny of education is long overdue

FINALLY we are going to have, I hope, a no-holds-barred review of the state of Scottish education. Indiscipline of a low-level nature as well as the increasing number of more serious anti-social acts meed to be investigated.

There can be no doubt that the burnout which is affecting many teachers is aggravated by the incidence of rising indiscipline.

We all know that there has been a major breakdown in the moral code which teachers could once rely upon with appropriate sanctions to keep control of their classrooms. Sanctions against miscreants are now weak while members of staff feel unsupported by their school administrators who do not wish to get into the black books of the council authorities and also try to cover up any publicity which could be bad for their schools.

There must be a serious investigation on the matter of school discipline as well as the content of the curriculum, the methods of its delivery and the competence of teaching staff to facilitate a proper progressive development in their young charges.

So, a wide-ranging educational review must be undertaken to restore Scotland to the forefront of global education, where it belongs, if we wish to do the best by our youngsters.

Denis Bruce


We must wake up to wokeness

BEING "woke" is so intolerant and sanctimonious that it can, inadvertently, provide considerable humour as it is ultra-feminist, multi-ethnic and a gender-non-conforming culture. It has led to an American columnist, Sophia Benoit of GQ, complaining that 1917 has few female characters. Director Steve McQueen will boycott the Baftas as "they lack diversity" yet he has won two and had three other nominations.

The snowflakes complain about the lack of Oscars diversity yet Moonlight (about a closeted gay black man) trumped La La Land. On television, the woke episodes of Doctor Who have seen audiences halved.

As your columnist Iain Macwhirter hilariously pointed out in his column last month (How Britain 'woke' up in 2019), it led to the BBC drama Years And Years, so beloved of young white millennials, yet called "The Woke Family Robinson" in the industry.

He has also argued it was not so funny when the LibDems suffered as their leader tried to defend the dogma that biological sex did not exist. Then there was the failure of Labour to accept that their metropolitan identity politics led to their biggest defeat since 1935. Yes, Brexit is the greatest example of economic self-harm we have endured, but the attack on white working-class voters as racists and bigots was simplistic nonsense and did for them in northern England.

The British people, the press and the royal family are not racist. Meghan and Harry, initially, had gushing coverage, until they went on their virtue-signalling crusades, jetting off to a climate-change lecture. It is not prejudice to complain that Sussex Royal wants a celebrity lifestyle funded by taxpayers.

Afua Hirsch, interviewed by Piers Morgan on GMB, supported them, but overplayed Britain as a racist dystopian nightmare. She claimed that many British black people want out (without citing evidence), and this privately educated barrister of Ghanaian descent argued that few women of colour rise to prominence here.

Of course, she benefits from the human rights denied in Ghana – rights which mean she is able to spout her inflammatory woke language.

John V Lloyd


Please, just get Megxit done

AT a time of crisis for our country with Brexit looming and the indyref 2 impasse, it is hugely frustrating that the media is transfixed on the showbiz aspects of royal family. As well as providing a smokescreen to obfuscate what Boris Johnson and his Tory Government are planning it is also making out the royal family to be far more important than it is.

I didn’t think I’d ever paraphrase Boris Johnson but can we please get Megxit done so we can concentrate on issues that really do have an impact on real people's lives?

D Mitchell