Kenneth Roy correctly questions the first minister's description of the SNP's 'long-standing' support for the EU. I find it interesting how often those who rely on history to justify or support current political action or claims are either cavalier or ignorant about history. One interesting example was the vaunted 'no university fees' policy, once described by the SNP as restoring Scotland's centuries-old tradition of free university education. There was of course no such tradition; this was fantasy. 'Free university education in Scotland' was the result of the then Conservative government's adoption of the recommendations of the Anderson Committee in 1960 that there should be awards to students to pay fees and provide student grants.

If the SNP was restoring anything, it was the policies of Supermac, if not so generously. In this vein it is worth noting that the Guardian, which often has strange opinion pieces about Scotland, recently chastised Ruth Davidson for having benefited from the post-war social policies of Labour, such as access to higher education, apparently opposed in the 1960s by the Conservative party. There can be no doubt that Labour would have been in favour of free access to higher education; but this was a product of the Conservative government. It would not matter; but the writer was here rather strangely implying some kind of hypocrisy on the part of the leader of the Conservative party in Scotland for having accepted this eductional benefit, inaccurately ascribed to the Labour Party, while ungratefully becoming a Tory as an adult! Again this is ignorance of modern history. Facts are so inconvenient.

John W Cairns

The new 'English' government's confidence about its own power is delusive. These are the twilight years of our south, more affluent than Italy's, but now run by inexperienced second-graders, even more accelerated in economic primitivism, as the electoral frauds show.

In fact the lazy Euro-German use of 'England' instead of 'Great Britain' now seems quite legitimate, while the 'trolling' of Ms Sturgeon in respectable English newspapers is so disgraceful it now puts 'the unacceptable face of Scotland' – which alas does exist – in the shade.

How does one get a sense of what's going on, and how the Westminster battlefield is viewed? With only one side actually present?

I got my researcher's spurs in the late 1960s surveying Gladstone's Irish home rule attempt in 1886. Suitably Homeric, given Parnell, Salisbury, Chamberlain, Morley, Bryce, Balfour – it would be, wouldn't it?

Cunninghame Graham figured as a juvenile lead, and a Scots portent: founded the Scottish Labour party in 1888, founder-president of the SNP in 1933.

Being by marriage a Whig, I found that even my late wife's great-grandfather has a role. In 1885 Charles Saville Roundell was private secretary to the Viceroy of Ireland, Earl Spencer, in Phoenix Park, Dublin, then claiming a Gladstonian ear as one of his MPs. Rolls off the tongue, dontit?

'The Captains and the Kings depart' and against that epic the Tories presently field something like an amateur thesp club trying out Oscar Wilde's melodramas. I have been researching the Whitehall cabinet's backgrounds and they're as pathetic as Wilde's plots.

Slow Brexit will give us time to show London up. In Finland in 1978 I saw the propaganda mounted by the Helsinki Diet against St Petersburg's aggression after 1908. It was beautifully done – the best being Sibelius's haunting 'Finlandia'. We can replicate 'The Appeal of the Finnish Academics' and cast it worldwide.

We are represented by people brighter than Trump or Irvine Welsh's layabouts. We have the bonus of charmless opponents and the endowment of energy resources – about 12 thousand billion coal-equivalent tonnes annually. And an eager potential taker in Germany, where the North Sea coast is limited and hazardous, and congested.

But we have to think in a new way.

Christopher Harvie


I won't be voting for independence because I dislike the English. I am English. I have many English friends and relations. Scotland has been my home for nearly half a century. I've always felt extremely welcome here and I love this country. I won't be voting for independence because I believe the Scottish government has got everything right. There is certainly room for improvement in many areas. I won't be voting for independence to pay less tax. I reckon we need to pay considerably more to maintain great public services.

I won't be voting for independence because I'm keen to break up the UK. I just cannot bear to be associated with the ineptitude, insensitivity and inequality of our Westminster government. It embarrasses me to be part of a country that so recently made its wealth on the back of global exploitation, yet today is deporting people who have settled here from those same countries. A Westminster government that treats us with contempt and devolves the assessment and management of vulnerable people to profit-seeking corporations in which their members have shares.

My vote for independence will be cast in the hope of Scotland rising above petty politics, embracing true democracy, sharing wealth and empowering tomorrow's generation. The status quo just isn't good enough.

Chris Attkins

The business assets of the Clydebank man who killed a girl are to be seized. I have no brief for him, assuming there was no miscarriage of justice in the finding of guilt, but this use of asset-confiscation appears to be a clear injustice that will directly harm his wife and children who should otherwise be the beneficiaries of these assets. I have no concern when business assets are seized where they can arguably be shown to be the profits of crime, such as drug-dealing. But that surely cannot be the case here. If a man builds up a business of any worth he owes at least some of its value to his wife's support. There is no cause for confiscation. If the facts are as stated a stink should be made at least equal to the stench that this seems to give off.

Bernie Cohen

Table for one: Robert Hoskins on the independence numbers that dare not speak their name


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