Letters: Winners, losers and the West Lothian question

These letters appear in the 24 September issue of The Independent

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If Scottish MPs at Westminster are to be barred from voting on issues that mainly affect England, presumably English MPs will also be barred from voting on issues that mainly affect Scotland. This would stop them from being able, by virtue of their far greater numbers, to force on the Scots all sorts of things that Scottish MPs would never have voted for.

The first such vote should obviously be whether the nuclear submarines that English MPs dumped on Scotland, against the wishes of the vast majority of Scots, should stay where they are, just a short distance from Scotland’s largest city. Once Scottish MPs have voted to get rid of them, all those English MPs who thought nuclear submarines were a great idea as long as they were far away in Scotland will face the prospect of having these dangerous craft in their constituencies.

Sheila Miller



The Scottish referendum has produced a result in which the losers will prove to be the winners, which makes Alex Salmond’s resignation stranger than it seemed at first. If the promises made  by David Cameron were kept, as they almost certainly will be, then Scotland will be, in all but name, an independent country.

If we are one nation, as so many have insisted, then I can see no reason why all MPs should not vote on all matters concerning that one nation. But it looks as if we are going to have all kinds of devolution, which should mean there is little or no need for a House of Commons or a House of Lords, so perhaps the referendum result is a good one after all.

Bill Fletcher

Cirencester, Gloucestershire


The answer to the West Lothian question is simple.

Westminster MPs from a 50-mile radius adjoining the Scottish border should sit and vote in the Holyrood Parliament. Thus, Scottish MSPs would have to consider their neighbours on whom their decisions might have an effect; northern English MPs would have a legitimate claim to have a say in Scotland. This would balance the claim that Scottish MPs must vote on England-only matters as it might affect them. Honour is thus restored on all sides. A similar system could be adopted for Wales, leaving time for a lively debate about how we might decide Northern Ireland’s affairs.

Peter Cunningham



I am extremely dismayed and almost disgusted at the Labour and Scottish leaderships’ stance on the West Lothian question. The WLQ has been around since the late 1970s as has the flawed Barnett formula – where Scotland gets 19 per cent per capita more than England. No wonder the Scottish Parliament can dish out all sorts of freebies and socialist programmes to keep the inner-cities voting for the free money. 

Both need sorting out if Scotland gets more powers.  It is not democratic to leave it as it is, as pointed out by Chris Grayling at the weekend. In the event of a Yes win, the independence negotiations were planned to take 18 months.

The same timescale can be used for further devolution talks and addressing the WLQ. I might also add that I am fed up subsidising Scottish business and retail outlets with higher costs for us in England. Costs should fall where they lie. 

Colin Macleod Stone



The sad part is that normal isn’t better

I was impressed with Oliver Wright’s paean to dyslexics and (implicitly) to others with non-normal abilities.

I employed many programmers over the years when I ran a software development company and a high percentage were dyslexic. Most of these were quite brilliant in seeing through the morass of logic required for any big project but often found it hard to explain to the “ordinary” programmers how or why they wrote what they did. Suffice to say, their work  was some of the most inventive and successful code we produced.

This is purely anecdotal and may not indicate that dyslexics make good programmers but it does reflect a well proven phenomenon where people excel in some areas despite or maybe because of struggling to achieve the “norm” in others. Given that the “norm” is the same as the average and the standard, who would want  to be normal?

The sad part is that some sections of society, education and commerce would rather we were all normal but that is mostly laziness on their part. Different can be good. Very different can be very good.

William Charlton


Why not in my back yard?

I am truly conflicted (Mary Dejevsky, 23 September). A couple of weeks ago an email was circulated around our leafy neighbourhood in East Molesey exhorting us to write in to complain about increased potential noise and harm caused by a new trial air route round Heathrow.

One resident even said she had moved to Molesey all the way from Richmond to avoid the noise. Who among us can say we have not shared in the benefits of air travel, especially those of us who can pop down to the almost equidistant airports of Gatwick or Heathrow and set off for a light lunch or weekend in Milan or Paris?

I am trying not to be a Nimby and so, despite the possible damage to my personal sleep patterns if the flight path were to change, how can I argue that it is better for the residents of Richmond to suffer more than those of East Molesey? Or for the birds of Boris Island to be moved on?

Anthony Lipmann

East Molesey, Surrey


The argument for Heathrow expansion

Mary Dejevsky concludes that the benefits of Heathrow expansion are ‘‘overstated’’ (23 September). That is not the view of thousands of residents, businesses and workers who depend on the UK’s only hub airport. Heathrow’s importance is recognised by the 40,000 people who have joined our campaign to ensure the airport grows and succeeds. Nationally, millions of passengers rely on the  long-haul connections that only a bigger and better Heathrow can deliver.

Rob Gray

Back Heathrow Campaign, Hounslow


I'll bet Janet a tenner I can prove her wrong

Janet Street-Porter is completely wrong (20 September). Choice of beer is not simply down to packaging. I am happy to sit down with her and, for a £10 bet, in a blind tasting identify a real ale such as Fuller’s London Pride or Timothy Taylor’s Landlord from Heineken or Stella Artois lagers. It would be the easiest tenner I’d ever earned. Janet needs to learn a hell of a lot more about beer before making such wild statements. I’m wondering whether anything else she writes about can be trusted.

Michael O’Hare

Northwood, Middlesex


This is not Tesco’s finest hour

I like Tesco, my small neighbourhood store carrying things I want at a good price, run by nice staff as a part of a giant but relatively uncomplicated enterprise – so what went wrong?

Tesco has said that the overstatement of its half-year profits by £250m was ‘‘principally due to the accelerated recognition of commercial income and delayed accrual of costs’’.

It’s a long time since I did Business Accountancy 101 but I know exactly what that means. My query is how did PwC, the firm’s auditor for three decades, manage to miss it? Its shares are down 40 per cent this year and in case you think it’s not your problem, if you have a company pension fund, an insurance policy, or a shares ISA, it’s your problem.

Dr John Cameron

St Andrews


Independent’s front page make me proud

Thank you Indy for your front page featuring Emma Thompson, highlighting the threat to humanity that others choose to ignore.

I took part in the London march with thousands of other people, to unite in voicing our fears for the future of our grandchildren and the planet that they will inherit. It makes me proud to be an Indy reader.

Margaret Hayday

Benfleet, Essex


Tiresome pun amid a mixed message

The Independent is loud in its silence over celebrity Royal events and quick to publish letters congratulating itself on the same. Yet you report an important climate change march with the front page headline (22 September) “The nanny states her case: Emma Thompson joins climate launch” and a dominating picture of the smiling celebrity. Quite apart from the tiresome pun, how is Ms Thompson’s attendance the news story here? Could you perhaps share your policy on celebrity newsworthiness with us readers?

Julian Stanford



Silly season is over

Lord Bell’s suggestion that Hilary Mantel be investigated by the police  for incitement to murder is ridiculous!  You cannot incite someone to murder a person who is dead. And where will this end? Should Lord Dobbs be investigated for his novel set in the House of Lords in which the Queen is the target.  Police have enough serious work to do and Lord Bell should be aware that the August silly season is over.

Sue Miller

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

House of Lords