I guess I am as “English” as anyone in this country can be, my family having lived in the village where I reside for 250 years now. As far as I know, I do not have a single “Scottish” gene in my body. Yet some years ago I joined the Scottish National Party.
I did so because I grew tired of the continuous whining of Scottish politicians about how unfair the other countries in the union were to them. In the absence of a credible “English Nationalist Party” I decided the best way for me to be rid of Scotland would be to support its own drive to independence.
I will be happy to see the Scots pay for their own free university education, nursing-home places and prescriptions, rather than a large part of it coming, as currently it does, from the Barnett formula. I predict that after a brief period of euphoria the Scots will be taking their tartan begging bowl to the IMF and EU.
So, if ye gang awa’ Alex, from my point of view it will have been two pounds a month well spent.
Around half of what the SNP claims is Scottish oil is in waters that would be lost to Scotland if Orkney and Shetland were allowed the same freedom to decide on nationhood as the SNP is demanding for Scotland.
While the financial arguments for Scottish independence are debatable, one thing is certain. If Orkney and Shetland, with their historical links to Norway, threw off the Scottish yoke, an independent Scotland would have a monumental financial crisis and a much impoverished future.
When is Alex Salmond going to tell us how his party intends to squash any attempt by the Northern Isles to gain independence since their retention is essential to a prosperous independent Scotland?
Keighley, West Yorkshire
Why on earth should anyone listen to Alistair Darling’s musings (report, 8 July) on the impact of a Yes vote on the economy of Scotland and the UK? This is the ex-chancellor who allowed the continuation of the Thatcherite de-regulated regime in the financial industry, who presided over the run-up to the banking crisis and also supported the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war and the renewal of Trident. His campaign in support of the Union is motivated solely by his fear that the loss of the Scottish Labour MPs would put his party out of power for a very long time and possibly forever.
Chislehurst, Greater London
People living in England and Wales will be unaware that HM Government has sent to all homes in Scotland a glossy, 16-page, full-colour brochure entitled What Staying in the UK Means for Scotland.
It contains nothing other than arguments supporting the Better Together campaign. The only nod to impartiality is a sentence on page 15 that states, in smaller type: “Alternatively, you can request information by writing to: Scotland Office...”
What is the London-based media doing to investigate this misuse of public funds for political purposes?
Muir of Ord, Highland
If the cringeworthy uniform to be worn by Scots competitors at the Commonwealth Games is an example of Scottish decision making, it will do much to swell the No vote in the independence referendum. Frankly, one would not do this to a sofa.
John Eoin Douglas
The role of celebrity status in sex abuse
It was obviously wrong of Rolf Harris to do what he did (report, 7 July). But if we put people on pedestals and insulate them from regular reality checks, we should expect this type of behaviour.
It is likely that we evolved from polygamous apes and much of our behaviour may still be based on this genetic history. Many apes use sex as one mechanism to create or reinforce social bonds. This can take the form of enforced sex as well, including the kind of assault Rolf was found guilty of. A male ape leader of a polygamous group would seek to reinforce the social bonds regularly to prove to the whole group, and himself, that he is in charge.
When our celebrities are surrounded by people who are always reinforcing how wonderful they are, it is unsurprising when the celebrities lose their moral compass and social perspective. These celebrities are repeatedly given the message that they are the dominant male in their social group. When females are introduced into the social group, does our biological background play a part in driving these “dominant males” to do the things they do?
Our sycophantic celebrity culture, and our biological hard wiring make this society’s problem. We may drive this behaviour underground by showing that people sometimes don’t get away with rapes and assault, but it won’t stop until we work out how we can destroy the cult of celebrity. These people are skilled entertainers, not heroes.
The child-abuse allegations are the most serious consequences to have arisen from a string of examples of institutional failures and mismanagement (“Independent inquiry to look into paedophile network claims”, 8 July).
At the root of these failures is a belief in the virtually sacrosanct nature of “management” and “leadership”. For too long, leadership positions have gone to those who can be trusted to toe the line, rather than to ask questions. This has resulted in management structures that may be suitable for the purposes of the establishment, but not for the many on the receiving end of their policies.
King’s Lynn, Norfolk
One of the key roles of MI5 has been to monitor our senior establishment figures to identify any potential circumstances that facilitate blackmail by a foreign power. It is inconceivable that, in a period that began before the end of the Cold War, the activities of a Westminster-based paedophile ring would not have been closely monitored by our secret services. And even if they had failed to spot it, any files relating to such a blackmail risk would surely have been sent to them as soon as the Home Office received them in 1983. Has Theresa May asked them if they kept their copies?
Why do we need to know that Theresa May made her statement “in a sombre all-black trouser suit”?
A grandfather lost in the first world war
“A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Their identification tags were embedded in the putrid flesh” (5 July) was both horrifying and grisly. My grandfather was killed at the Somme in August 1916 and his body was never found. I always had a fond thought that some French farmer would turn up his identification tag while ploughing his fields.
Alas, when I attended the opening of the visitor centre at Thiepval I was informed that only officers had metal tags and the other ranks had tags made of cardboard. My grandmother never saw the memorial at Thiepval, never knew where exactly or how her husband died. All she knew was that she had six children to bring up on her own.
John Lichfield’s article on the First World War and presumption that it was a myth that the German army was never defeated is not correct. In spite of massive losses and the entry of America to the war, the German army remained a force that would have made it very difficult for the Allies to actually occupy Germany.
At sea, as in the Second World War, the German U-boats remained undefeated and could have continued to wage war against the Allies. At Kiel in the Second World War the U-boat crews showed their resolve and disgust by turning their backs on the Allies when the surrender was taking place.
Technically the Germans were not defeated in the First World War but sought an Armistice when they had almost run out of men and the army had to engage in fighting Communists in the homeland rather than at the front. Battle for battle the Germans came out of the war with far more victories than the Allies and would undoubtedly have won had it not been for the intervention of America with thousands of fresh troops and armaments.
Struggles with sexuality
It is great that Grace Dent is so accepting of other people’s sexuality (8 July). But from my work as a counsellor, I know it isn’t always that easy. I have seen parents who have struggled with “the announcement”. They want to be supportive but find it a challenge accepting a person who feels different to the one they have lived with for 15 years.
And despite the numerous celebrities who either play gay TV characters or are gay themselves and proud to be so, it is still challenging for most 16-year-olds to accept their sexuality if it is different to that of their peers.