I KNOW that columnists are there to give opinions. Facts are secondary.  However. sometime truth needs facts (Neil Mackay, ‘I hate the bomb but to dump Trident now would be crazy’, June 25).

There is no independent UK nuclear weapons system. The UK is a client state of the US and has been for decades. It makes warheads but has no way of delivering them. The US supplies the missiles and they return there for servicing and, whatever is said publicly, no-one who is knowledgeable really believes that they do not keep control of targeting. The French had a stop-kill device in the missiles they sold to Argentina forty years ago.

The last two tests (they took place in the US) of a UK Trident submarine firing a missile both failed.  In 2016 the missile headed to Florida and was stopped. Last year the missile didn’t head anywhere; it just plopped beside the submarine. I wish we knew that they would always fail.  This is a very dangerous and expensive system and its upgrade is going to cost us around £100 billion. It is a system that could never be used without US consent so if Trump is elected, he will be making the decisions on the use of UK Trident anyway.

But the crucially important point is that we are in a terrifying nuclear weapons spiral about which the public is ill-informed. The technological developments are accelerating rapidly – hypersonic weapons, submarine detection systems and undersea missiles, ‘fractional orbital’ systems that can evade warning systems.  The nuclear powers are racing to leap-frog each other. In that respect Russia is no different from the others.

Most of us in the disarmament movement are consistent. We oppose all imperial powers who start wars and invade other countries. The US is the state which has done that most often and very brutally in the past 70 years. But Neil changes his mind on nuclear weapons because the invasion was in Europe.

The world has been moving in the wrong direction on nuclear disarmament and that has not been one-sided.  

The 220 nuclear bombs on the Clyde do not keep us safe. Apart from accident, they make us a top European target. Let’s take that target off our backs.
Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.


Read more:

SNP’s Trident policy plays into Putin’s hands

Vanguard submarine returns to Clyde Naval Base after 'longest' patrol


Relocating Trident
NEIL Mackay picks an odd time to bring up Trident, but when serving in the Royal Navy I was based at Faslane twice and, being of the generation which grew up during the Cuba Crisis (born 1949), all of us matelots (and Wrens) discussed nuclear weapons a lot.

A deterrent is a Good Thing until it has to be used and nuclear weapons have required a strategy of mutually assured destruction to keep the peace. Some people have a moral or religious objection toward the mass killing of civilians, or prefer a situation where you can live to fight another day (no dictatorship lasts as long as a nuclear winter).

But an independent Scotland requires more than Mr Mackay’s linguistic gymnastics to justify Scotland basing another sovereign entity’s weapons of mass destruction on its soil.
UK defence ministers have previously asserted that Trident could be used as a first-strike weapon or could be used against a non-nuclear enemy, and indeed,  could be used outside of NATO control. That disturbing bombast is only the start of difficulties.

Who would have sovereignty over the geography of the weapons facilities based in Scotland, or over the transport of warheads? What of the role of the secret services of London within an independent Scotland? What assurances would be given over accidents, kept secret up till now? 

At the end, the best bet for both London and Edinburgh would be the relocation of the system to England: it might take a decade or so, but in 2014 the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) estimated the cost of relocating the Trident system (Faslane, Coulport and other bits and bobs) to England would cost up to £3.5 billion, a fraction of previous claims.

The real problem it seems would be to gain acceptance from a local population (a good distance from London).
GR Weir, Ochiltree.


Taking a political gamble
THERE is a world of a difference between gambling on the date of the next election and placing a bet on the result of the vote in a particular constituency.

Kevin Craig, the now suspended Labour candidate for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, was effectively taking out insurance against the risk of being defeated at the election on July 4. With his current standing in the polls I suspect that Keir Starmer could get such insurance at very favourable odds from his local bookie.
Sandy Gemmill, Edinburgh.

WHAT are the odds on Lord Jack of Ladbrokes? He will fit right in to the house of rogues. What a tawdry country we are.
Grant McKechnie, Glasgow.


A question of judgement
IT remains to be seen whether those who have been accused of placing bets about the election date actually did so. 

Chris Mason, the BBC’s excellent political editor, makes the telling point that there is a huge amount that the media currently does not know. We don’t know if there was indeed a bet, for instance.

But Mr Mason is surely right about one thing: the revelations may help reveal something about the judgement of those who hold senior roles, in office or seeking office. Such attitudes will not readily be forgotten.
S. Kemp,  Glasgow.


Paying each time we see the GP
DR Iain Kennedy. chair of the BMA’s Scottish council, has warned In his speech at the annual BMA Conference in Belfast, that the very existence of a ‘’national health service as we know it’’ is under threat (‘Scotland is ‘sleepwalking’ towards a two-tier NHS’, June 25).

Many other countries, some further left in attitude than this country has ever been, run their NHS equivalents in a different manner in order to handle the stratospheric costs involved.

In Scotland, several of the countries that the nationalists claim as models we should aim for, including our close neighbour, Ireland, for example, charge a fee for a routine visit to a GP.  A re-think is surely necessary across the board but that would mean political allegiances and dogma being put aside for the greater good of all. Of all UK institutions, the NHS must not become a political football. 
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

Despair over NHS's long-term future

GIVEN that the NHS has been in crisis for many years, that governments of different stripes have tried and failed to find workable and affordable solutions, and given that any number of think-tanks have studied the issue in exhausting detail, is it an issue that can ever be satisfactorily addressed? Or has it simply become too colossally expensive that all we can ever hope for is tinkering around the frayed edges?
D. Macdonald, Glasgow. 


Scotland needs a Rob Roy party
WHILST we hear great promises to improve the NHS and ease the housing shortages for first-time buyers, we should realise that those who can afford to send their offspring to Eton or Gordonstoun have no incentive to achieve these aims. Nor are they likely to accept the same proportional taxes which lower classes have suffered during austerity.

Your headline about a possible two-tier health service, plus Nigel Farage’s suggestion that we should pay for treatment if we can afford so to do, takes no account of the very little effect this would have on our richest populace.

Another problem, particularly in the south, is water pollution, which is a criminal act attracting fines. whilst management and shareholders enjoy income from it. The proceeds from crime can be taken from the criminals concerned, so why can we not withhold bonuses and dividends until all sewage works are brought up to standard? The answer is that certain parties are more interested in private income than keeping our waterways and seas healthy. Finally, as a European, I find it impossible to vote for the proponents of Brexit or those who intend to prolong it. Maybe England needs a Robin Hood party – perhaps even a Rob Roy party for Scotland.
J.B.Drummond, Kilmarnock.


Time is running out for woke ideas
DAVID Tennant, of all people, has started the real fireworks in this election campaign. His remarks over Kemi Badenoch have ignited the underlying problem of women’s rights versus minority rights.

This follows on from the issue of Gaza. Some politicians have lost the ability to stand up for the majority in a rush to be seen as politically “correct”. Common sense dictates that if you ignore the concerns of the masses in favour of small self-interest groups you will create tensions. If Labour win this election problems will arise by Friday night, July 5. Time is running out for “woke” ideas but as a Time Lord, David Tennant ought to know this already.
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.