(The section in italics was cut by the Herald and did not appear in the paper.)
I HAVE recently received an election communication through the post from the SNP. I am told that it has been mailed directly to many others across Scotland.
As a matter of public service, I would like to point out to any others of your readers who may receive it that it contains a number of untruths in claiming achievements for the SNP.
The most obvious of these are free elderly care, free university tuition for Scottish students and free bus travel for pensioners. It is of course a matter of public record that all of these were introduced by the earlier Labour-Liberal Democrat coalitions. Those less generous than myself might also notice that the Borders Railway (another “SNP” achievement) was signed up by the Lab/LibDem administration before it left power in 2007.
Such untruths only go to reinforce the sense that if you are unfortunate enough to have Nicola Sturgeon or your local SNP candidate come round for tea, you should be careful to count the spoons before they leave.
Your readers may also like to ask themselves how these services are paid for. The answer is of course that they are only possible because of the many billions of pounds that Scotland receives under the pooling and sharing arrangements of the United Kingdom. Yes, the same United Kingdom that the SNP wishes to kiss goodbye to – along with all of the funding that comes with it.
That is not on the direct mail shot either.
Peter A Russell
YOUR correspondent William Thomson (Letters, April 22) questions the Labour Party’s continuing opposition to a further referendum on Scottish independence. In fact, the reason for this is really very simple.
The back of every Labour Party membership card bears the following statement: “by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more then we achieve alone.” This is simply the application of our philosophy that humankind is most successful when we work in unions. This applies to our personal lives, in the world of work, in our communities and in the relationships between regions within countries and between nations.
There is no evidence that Scotland is so special as to be the exception to this rule. Indeed, the history of the United Kingdom shows that all of the progress from which we benefit today has been made through collective achievements at all levels.
In contrast, nationalism has achieved nothing whatsoever, and indeed has proven to be a destructive and divisive influence. Can anyone really truthfully say that Scotland is a better and happier place than it was 10 years ago before the SNP took power at Holyrood?
Or indeed that another independence referendum is what we need to heal the divisions and enduring harm of the last one?
Peter A Russell
HAVING lost the 2014 referendum on the economic facts, it is now clear that Scottish Nationalists wish to muddy the water by discrediting the Scottish Government’s own GERS figures and creating a fact-free zone for any future repeat.
I would refer your readers to the excellent Fraser of Allander Institute blog on the derivation and status of GERS by Graeme Roy, and to the approval of the UK Statistics Authority, which is the “kitemark” for such data. They can then make their own minds up.
In the meantime, we can also consider two implications of the claims of the unreliability or inaccuracy of GERS.
The first is that margins of error work both ways. If the GERS deniers believe that the gap between our revenues and expenditures is, for example, a mere £10 billion rather than the eye-watering £15bn identified, they assume a margin of error of £5bn. By that same token, it could also be inaccurate by the same sum in the other direction: anyone fancy starting a country with a £20 billion per annum deficit? (No, me neither.)
The second point is to imagine that the GERS deniers are correct and that the figures are completely useless. Then we must consider just how completely crazy the proposition would be to embark on independence with no idea whatsoever about our revenues and expenditure, nor about the balance between the two. (Count me out of that one, too.)
Peter A Russell
THE Scottish Government’s latest figures show our economy to be stumbling towards a recession, while that of the rest of the UK shows modest growth. No-one should doubt the seriousness of the situation. The main difference between the Scottish economy and those of other UK regions is that only Scotland faces the uncertainty of the threat of a further referendum on secession.
The danger of this threat has been apparent since the 2014 referendum, when the SNP failed to grasp the opportunity to create stability by abandoning its policy of independence in line with the wishes of the Scottish people. It has become even more so since Nicola Sturgeon chose to add yet greater uncertainty to that of Brexit by unilaterally declaring her intention for another referendum.
It is well documented in Canada how businesses have shunned Quebec and turned increasingly to cities like Toronto as they make investment and expansion decisions – again because of the threat of secession. Scotland faces the same fate unless independence is put to bed indefinitely.
There is still a course of action which the First Minister can take which will offer hope for businesses in Scotland: she can put country above party and call off her dogmatic and blinkered pursuit of independence. To do so would take enormous courage and real qualities of leadership, and would cost her the support of the most fanatical of her supporters. However, it would gain her the admiration of even her most sceptical of critics, and – above all – would save the jobs and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Scots, now and in decades to come.
Peter A Russell
You have to wonder what happened to them.
MAGGIE Chetty (Letters, March 24) seizes on the vicious and cowardly attack on innocent people in London to ask what kind of country we wish to be.
I would suggest that we should be one that celebrates the success of our shared capital as the greatest and most successful post-colonial and multi-racial city in the world, and does not turn its back on our fellow citizens who live there when they come under attack.
Peter A Russell
THE SNP believes it has a manifesto mandate to pursue to a further referendum on independence, even if the more rational amongst us doubt whether that supersedes the commitment made in the Edinburgh Agreement that the outcome of the first one would be “decisive” and “respected by all sides”. Likewise, the party of “once in generation” and “once in a lifetime” but which declared “the campaign continues” while the ink was still wet on the results in 2014 is one which is not to be trusted in any way.
However, the Scottish Green Party is in a different position. Its 2016 manifesto is clear that it would support independence in the event of a further referendum. However, it also states that “citizens should be able to play a direct role in the legislative process: on presenting a petition signed by an appropriate number of voters, citizens should be able to trigger a vote on important issues of devolved responsibility. … this is the Scottish Greens’ preferred way of deciding to hold a second referendum on Independence. If a new referendum is to happen, it should come about by the will of the people, and not be driven by calculations of party political advantage.”
This is not the casual promise of given in haste by an office-hungry politician on the stump, but a solemn and considered statement of principle in a manifesto.
The simple fact is that there is no such petition. Indeed, the only evidence of the “will of the people” is the parliamentary petition against a new referendum which has gained over 100,000 signatures in single day. Moreover, there is not a single opinion poll which favours a re-run of 2014 as proposed by the First Minister. If the Greens cannot comply with their own freely given pledge, every other promise they make is dust and ashes.
But there are two ways in which the Scottish Green Party can avoid the fate of the SNP which has lost all credibility for plain dealing and honesty with the public. These are that Greens MSPs either vote against the proposal for indyref2 next week, or abstain.
In fact, the only option which is a betrayal of their own manifesto is to vote for a referendum which does not enjoy the demonstrable and unambiguous support of the people of Scotland.
Peter A Russell