THE SNP cites Brexit and its negative impact on international trade between Scotland and the EU as its justification for another referendum on Scottish independence. Our company is a Scottish-based manufacturing business in the plastics sector that exports the majority of its products, much of them to the EU.
We have now had four months’ experience of Brexit. In many respects, the SNP is absolutely right. Brexit has caused delays, administrative headaches and extra cost, but both we and our customers are getting used to the new arrangements, have adjusted our systems and costings accordingly, and are getting back down to business.
Brexit was difficult enough for businesses such as ours trading internationally to cope with, but the impact of the SNP’s proposal of Scottish independence is surely of a different order of magnitude entirely. If Scotland were to become independent, Scottish businesses trading internationally would have barriers to trade with the EU courtesy of Brexit, have barriers to trade with England, Wales and Northern Ireland as a consequence of Scottish independence, have barriers to trade with export markets beyond Europe in the absence of any trade deals concluded with them by a Scottish government, have to get to grips with the new tax and regulatory regimes of the new Scottish state and, last but not least, possibly have to factor into their business model the transfer to and adoption of an entirely new currency.
Therefore the SNP’s Brexit-based economic justification for another referendum on independence is bogus. Whilst Scottish manufacturing businesses trading internationally may have been able to cope with the single issue of Brexit, I suspect strongly that many would be unable to survive the multiple challenges of Scottish independence and to keep running a successful operation.
Gordon McCallum, Managing Director, PW Hall Ltd, Kirkintilloch.
NO LONGER A PARTNERSHIP
WE are in pre-election “purdah” where new announcements by government are banned, yet just before we go to the polls we can read everywhere about a proposed “blueprint to save the Union” (“Frustration in Tory ranks as PM’s Scottish infrastructure plan ‘too late’”, The Herald, May 3). A UK Government minister asserts that “Scotland has two governments”. Correct; one we elect and one we have thrust upon us, which as Professor Ciaran Martin explains is a government of “Greater Englandism”; UK governance is no longer based on partnership, but a post-Brexit UK built on a very 17th century English notion of parliamentary sovereignty, and where acceptance and appreciation of the subtleties of non-English national identity are ignored.
London complains of China interfering with the rights, freedoms and autonomy of Hong Kong while it does exactly the same with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
GR Weir, Ochiltree.
A SERIOUS SITUATION
IT must be frustrating for Nicola Sturgeon to be asked awkward questions about the SNP’s 14-year track record in government, just as she would rather leave detailed talk about the inconvenient implications of independence until after the election.
Yet for a change of pace in the final weekend of campaigning before election day, our First Minister decided to sum everything up in one word. Apparently what we need is a “serious” First Minister, leading a “serious” government, in these most “serious” of times (“Sturgeon: SNP has not done enough, but I’m only one offering serious leadership”, The Herald, May 3). Rarely has one word been used with such repetition with the purpose of simultaneously deifying one whilst trying to belittle all others.
Of course we have long been accustomed to being told by the SNP leadership that independence offers the answer to all our problems, but now it seems matters have taken a really serious turn.
Keith Howell, West Linton.
COMPROMISE IS VITAL
WHETHER by accident or design, Alan M Morris (Letters, May 3) is wrong when he writes that “since 2014 … the UK has done nothing to address the UK constitution except to denigrate half the population of Scotland with demeaning language whilst trying to limit the powers of the Scottish Parliament”.
Only Mr Morris can know what he means by his “denigration” remark, but the rest of us will recall that after the 2104 referendum, Scotland’s UK Government set up the Smith Commission. This in turn led to the Scotland Act 2016 which expanded the powers of the Scottish Parliament by a very considerable degree, above all into the areas of welfare and social security and personal taxation.
Although the SNP was a joint signatory to the Smith process, its activists made a great show of publicly burning its report, and this attitude has been reflected by the way in which it has been regarded since at all levels in the party.
The truth is that the UK has taken great steps to accommodate the wishes of the nationalist minority in Scotland, but that minority has failed abysmally to reciprocate that compromise. Until it does so, we will be stuck deep down the constitutional rabbit hole.
Peter A Russell, Glasgow.
OUR PARALLELS WITH ENGLAND
LESLEY Riddoch is quite right to say that Scotland’s politics have no parallels with those of the North of Ireland (“Scotland is not Northern Ireland writ large . . . false parallels can be dangerous”,The Herald, May 3) but she could have said the real parallels are with England. In England, as in Scotland, policy, principle and fact have been submerged under a tide of nationalism, jibes, empty promises and flag-waving.
Ralph Barker, Crawford.
SHAKE OFF THE FEAR
IS there a more ridiculous spectacle in any mature democracy than the present state of party politics in Scotland? We have three long-established parties, each of which has (at least it is to be hoped they have) a set of specific and well-defined policies relating to the social and political issues affecting the country; and each of which should be vigorously promoting its own aims, and countering those of the others, by facts and sensible arguments. Instead of which, they are huddling together like a bunch of craiking craws, unable to do anything but snipe at the SNP – whose political aims are in fact shared, to a large extent, by two of the other three parties. And this because what binds them together is fear of independence; a fear which is not uniformly shared by their Scottish membership, but is by their masters in the English parties.
Anybody who imagines that the movement for independence is simply going to evaporate is living in Cloodiegowksburgh (Douglas Young’s more accurate translation of the Greek word customarily rendered as Cloud Cuckoo Land). There will be parties with independence as their central policy, and calls for it from the grassroots, until it is achieved; as it certainly will be sooner or later. Why do the Labour, Tory and LibDem parties in Scotland persist blindly in crippling themselves and retarding Scotland’s progress by refusing to recognise this, and rejecting the opportunity which independence would give them to exercise their skills and promote their aims unimpeded by Westminster shackles? What will it take to waken them up?
Derrick McClure, Aberdeen.
ELDERLY ARE PAID LIP-SERVICE
I HAVE to admit that I am skim-reading the leaflets from the various parties as they transit from my front door straight to the recycling bin. In this brief time, it confirms what I have long believed: that the politicians will say almost anything to get themselves on the gravy train that is parliament; Holyrood or Westminster, it makes no difference. Where else in society can you have no qualifications other than an ability to avoid answering any questions and get a starting salary of £65,000, plus perks and an instant pension when you leave without having to be age-qualified?
One item which seems to be missing from all of the leaflets is any raising of the state pension to something bordering credible, not a top-up but a proper living income for those who age-qualify. The UK has one of the worst state pensions in all of Europe with all other potential top-up benefits being means tested, including a TV licence. I don’t hear or see anything being suggested to improve the situation.
Add to this the repeated call for lifelong learning when anyone 60 and over is discriminated against by not being allowed to apply for a student loan, blatant ageism.
The largest section of the population is paid lip-service by all parties. It all amounts to one thing, politicians of all parties take the population for fools and hope no-one will dig too deep or ask awkward questions on a husting. Its what their party wants that is to the fore, not what the populace need or demand.
The voters will still tick the box along allegiance lines and once it’s over those trickier elements promised can be quietly dropped or run through the committee system until they wither on the vine. Council tax reform, local authority reform, NHS reform? Keep quiet, it will go away.
The decider for me on Thursday is who is saying something bordering on a deliverable amongst them all. Unfortunately they all seem to be talking through a cocked hat.
Robert Tedford, Fenwick.