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
YOUR correspondent Archie Burleigh (Letters, March 7) reminds Ruth Marr (Letters, March 4) and others that the Government was carrying out its 2015 manifesto commitment in calling the Brexit referendum.
It is also worth pointing out that the Brexit referendum was well signalled before and priced in to the 2104 Independence referendum.
In fact, the Scottish Government’s [then] Minister for International Affairs, the SNP’s Humza Yousaf himself told us that “the only threat to Scotland’s place in Europe comes from Westminster’s Ukip agenda and David Cameron’s proposed in-out referendum”.
It is possible that Mr Yousaf has such a negligible impact on politics that no-one notices or cares what he says. However, it is absurd for anyone – least of all Scottish Nationalists – to pretend that they did not know that when Scotland voted against independence, this included accepting the possibility that the UK might leave the EU.
Peter A Russell
THE prospect of a new Scottish BBC TV channel and its associated new jobs is great news. We can all look forward to fresh talent and a broad range of new programme making. And it is certain to be better than the dire Scotland 2014/15/16.
The complaint that some are making regarding the lack of a Scottish Six on BBC1 is also misplaced: most people have a recording or streaming device which will allow them to watch the new Scottish Nine at any time, without missing their favourite drama which is broadcast at the same time (or vice- versa.)
I am also reminded of the film Goodbye Lenin, where former East German citizens create “news” videotapes to hoodwink a sick person over the fall of the Berlin Wall. If people are so keen to have a Scottish Six, they could record the Scottish Nine O’Clock news, and play it at 6pm the next day. (Just a suggestion …)
Peter A Russell
THE causes behind the collapse of the Labour Party in Scotland are so various and complex that they will keep academics in business for many years to come: indeed, it is the combination of factors, both external and of the Party’s own making, into such a perfect storm that has made that collapse so complete.
However, views such as those expressed by Ian Thomson illustrate one of Labour’s own most obvious political failures: “the egregious failure, when placed with a large majority, to rebuild the country’s schools, welfare services, and health provision”. If Mr Thomson truly believes this, he is mistaken, and Labour itself should have better informed him.
In fact, Labour rebuilt hundreds of schools, for example the whole secondary estate in Glasgow, and committed resources to deprived areas for this purpose throughout England. It also created the welfare provision which is now so viciously under attack from the Tories (with no relief offered by the SNP, despite the new powers of the Scottish Parliament). And it invested in the NHS so that satisfaction levels were at an all-time high.
Like every government, the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were not perfect. However, Labour might have done rather better if subsequent leaders were more inclined to make known its many positive achievements, from devolution to lifting hundreds of thousands of children and pensioners from poverty.
Peter A Russell