Herald letter: Brexit was priced into the independence referendum.

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

Herald letter: “Goodbye Lenin” and the Scottish Six.

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

Herald letter: EU Migration (features Alf Garnett)

YOUR correspondent Douglas Mayer (Letters, February 21) in quoting the Lincolnshire town of Boston unfortunately parades many of the misapprehensions which bedevil any discussion on immigration.

Above all, he claims that unlimited EU immigration has led to disadvantages for local people in access to jobs, lowered wages, and in the public services they receive. As Alf Garnett would have put it: “Comin’ over ‘ere, pinchin’ our jobs and ‘ospital beds and school places.” Indeed, what is possibly most depressing about such views is that they have not moved on from the 1960s.

Surely it is better to see the benefits that immigration has delivered both nationally and locally.

In the case of Boston (where I have relatives) the business plan for many local agricultural employers is based on growth which is only possible because of the expanded labour supply provided by EU migration.

Likewise, public services which require minimum population densities and levels of demand continue to serve the town only because of EU migrants. The most obvious example is a local hospital maternity unit, which would have closed had it not been for a revival in the number of births, due to EU migrants. In time the babies will become schoolchildren, who will require schools, which will be kept open instead of suffering closure because of falling rolls.

“So,” shout Alf and his latter day successors, “‘oo is going to pay for it all?” The answer is of course that part of the working population who pay more in through taxation than they take out in services and benefits – which includes the EU migrants.

Peter A Russell

Herald Letter: Labour’s Record.

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

Herald letter:referendum outcomes

DAVE Biggart Letters, February 9) makes a simple but fatal error in his equation of the No vote in 2014 referendum and the Scottish Remain vote in 2013. He fails to see that the first was a vote in Scotland only and the second was a vote of the whole UK.

It is simple and elementary democracy to respect both of these on their own terms – that is, according to the votes cast for or against each proposition by the respective electorates.

We knew all along that in the case of the EU referendum every Scottish vote was equal to every vote elsewhere in the UK. Therefore the border between Scotland and England means in this case as little as that between East and West Sussex – where the respective votes cast were also equal.

Peter A Russell

Herald letter: Answers we know re independence – and those we don’t.

MAGGIE Chetty (Letters, January 30) seeks some answers before a new independence referendum.

Luckily for her, many of these have already been answered. For example, the basis of the calculation of Scottish exports is fully explained in the Scottish Government’s Export Scotland Statistics document, and likewise the nationalist myth of a whisky tax is knocked firmly on the head – again by the Scottish Government – in a specific answer attached to the GERS publication. Both can be found online with a simple search, by the way.

Similarly, the security of a ballot has been well proven by the Electoral Commission following the excellent conduct of the 2014 vote by local authority returning officers, although it is now more likely that any further referendum will stop either side from having the unfair advantage of Yes, which has to be an improvement.

It is also to be welcomed that Ms Chetty requires clarification on the issues of the Scottish currency, security of pensions, and the Scottish economy – don’t we all? The proposition in 2014 would have been ruinous in all of these areas, and so far no progress has been made in any new proposal. Indeed, with the fall in the oil price, the added risks of Brexit, and the continuing crisis in the Eurozone, things look even worse.

Finally, according the current polls, support for a second independence referendum stands at 27 per cent and falling. Who knows, when we know the answers to these questions, more people might even want a second referendum.

Peter A Russell

Poem: America First

A personal view. What it means to me.

America First.

America First is life and liberty
America First is Mohammed Ali and Billie Jean King
And Kate Millett and Malcolm X
America First is Arthur Miller and Harper Lee
And Hawthorn, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe
America First is Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsburg
America First is Sharon Olds and Patti Smith

America First is the pursuit of happiness
America First is Johnny Cash and Elvis
And Muddy, the Wolf and John Lee
America First is Tamla, Stax and Funkadelic
And Hank Williams and Ella Fitzgerald, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington
America First is the Velvet Underground, the Doors, the Stooges
America First is Bruce and Dylan and Woody Guthrie

America First starts with We The People
America First is Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins
America First is FDR and Martin Luther King
America First is the Village, the Haight and the Castro
America First is Woodstock and Wounded Knee
America First is Selma and the Battle of Chicago
America First sings we shall overcome.