Independence and RET ferry fares dominated the letters page of the June 13 edition of The Buteman: read the views of our contributors here, and let us know what you think.
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Prophecies of failure are simplistic
Peter Vincent’s letter of May 30 typifies the ‘No’ approach of spreading doom-laden predictions, largely based on fuelling people’s fears of the ‘unknown’. Such prophecies of failure at every turn are at best simplistic and at worst cynical fear-mongering.
The old quote that there’s nothing certain in life except death and taxes continues to be true. Businesses in the UK are more worried about the uncertainty stemming from a Tory (and now UKIP) commitment to a referendum on Europe than a Yes vote in September.
If we returned a Conservative or Labour government next time (assuming there is a next time!) or yet another coalition tainted by toadying to (or including?) UKIP, what ‘certainty’ can we look forward to in that?
Life is about risk and a degree of uncertainty. It’s the way it is. What is certain is that we would be dragged out of the EU with the kind of prejudice typified by UKIP and their appeasers.
Scotland’s time within the Union - albeit a shotgun wedding of sorts - allowed us into markets forbidden by England and created embargoes on Scottish produce (the Navigation Act and Alien Act) by letting our ships at last pass unmolested by the navy, and supplied sword arms and efficient administrators to the burgeoning Empire.
Defoe, the English spy, called Scotland “an inexhaustible treasury of men”. However, what happened then in Scotland came from within.
The great industries and businesses that arose were built largely by Scots and owed little to the union other than access to the markets previously denied.
David Cameron forced a yes or no vote on us, vetoing a third way of more devolution, which in all honesty most Scots would have preferred - at least as a next step towards independence. Indeed, Alex Salmond has always been in favour of incremental change.
However, we are where we are, and we must remember that power devolved by Westminster is power retained by them, and without direct control of taxation no country can truly give its people the society it aspires to.
Mr Vincent has gone through the usual list of scares and doomsaying. However his credibility is lost when his list predicts we would fail at everything. I am surprised he wants to live in a country where we are obviously so useless at everything.
He points out his roots as if that gives authority. I have friends in the north of England who wish they could join us, seeing Westminster as a failed system, and know a number of thinking English people living here who will vote Yes for the same reason.
Let’s get real. No country in the modern world is truly independent. All depend on global business and the flow of funds between nations or nation groups. Why would Mr Vincent think that Scotland would be a basket case, doomed to fail because of self-imposed isolation?
Inward investment is based on the premise of sound returns for international companies, not the whims of Westminster.
The exploration of the North Sea was funded by the international oil industry, in turn funded by international banks, in spite of swingeing one-way taxes imposed by Westminster.
The same applies to green technologies, whisky and other core industries.
New business can be incentivised to set up in Scotland from England and elsewhere; does he think they will care about a different jurisdiction if the circumstances are right?
Mr Vincent also forgot to mention that we have 25 per cent of Europe’s potential offshore wind and tidal energy, ten per cent of the EU’s wave energy potential, 11.6 per cent of UK farming production, a £32 billion rural and island economy that will improve dramatically with the next stage of the Land Reform Act, a £2.8 billion creative industry, a £4.3 billion whisky export industry, a £9 billion tourist industry, 98.8 per cent of predicted UK offshore oil production (the recovery rates of which are improving all the time), a £17 billion construction industry and 5.3 million people who, given back their self-confidence, can rise to greater things.
In an independent Scotland the government has committed to increase the personal tax allowance, benefits and tax credits in line with inflation, a pre-announced reduction in corporation tax of up to three percentage points, a reduction of Air Passenger Duty by 50 per cent, the simplification of the tax system to reduce compliance costs, streamline reliefs and help to reduce tax avoidance, with a target revenue gain of £250 million a year by the end of the first term.
On defence, without having to pay our share of Trident any more, our defence costs per capita will actually fall and still allow us to have a coastal defence force, airforce and standing army at a lower cost than many countries of similar size.
Mr Vincent should also remember that Scottish taxpayers own a proportion of the current hardware operated by the Ministry of Defence. We can also go on to buy our own hardware without the insane specifications required by the MoD, almost doubling the cost of say, an Apache attack helicopter.
Does he also know that if we vote No, the UK’s entire nuclear submarine fleet is to be moved to the Clyde? The new Astute class of hunter-killer submarines - two of a planned seven have now been completed - are to be based alongside the £100 billion Trident replacement at Faslane.
The base is currently undertaking a £31 million expansion to accommodate the additional service personnel for these submarines.
These submarines use the same leaky reactor which has recently been disclosed to have caused historic problems at Dounreay. Bringing another five to Faslane will double the chances of nuclear accident and increase the amount of nuclear waste on our roads and railways. This as well as making central Scotland one vast military target.
I would also query his puzzling claim that he “loves this country and all it stands for”. That’s my point: it is a country, not a region, and with all due respect, I doubt that Mr Vincent has yet learned exactly “what it stands for”.
Self-determination for Scotland is about a principle, not about politics on the left or right. It’s about recovering our place in the world as a nation, no longer being an appendage of another.
After all, we were the first significant acquisition of their empire, but let’s not be the last to leave it, as it dissolves into Europhobia and right-wing extremism.
Independence will allow us to use our own resources and shape our own fiscal and economic policies carefully tailored for Scottish needs and circumstances.
This will ensure the best chance of greater economic security and opportunity in the future for all who live and come to live here.
Jim Mitchell, St Ninian’s Cottage, Straad
Only SNP took action on RET fares
While the criticism of RET coming to Bute a year after Arran is in a sense justified it should be remembered that there were Labour-Liberal Democrat governments for the first eight years of the Scottish Parliament who could have introduced RET but failed to do so.
It was only when the SNP government was elected in 2007 that the issue was looked at seriously.
The Western Isles have benefited from RET, which is why it will be extended to all our islands. I will be pressing for group discounts from CalMac for events such as Bute Highland Games in the interim before RET comes in, and have the support of Mike Russell, our constituency MSP and Mike Mackenzie, the SNP’s Highlands and Islands MSP, to do this.
Councillor Isobel Strong (SNP, Isle of Bute), Lilybank, Glebelands Road, Rothesay
Bland response on RET does Bute no good
Six months (my recollection is that he said six weeks at your independence debate) was sufficient to enable Mike MacKenzie MSP to gain an understanding of how the capital prospered to the detriment of other areas, and to determine to come back to Scotland to get involved in politics to get a better deal.
Six years after RET was introduced in the Western Isles route MrMacKenzie, who is now SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, when lobbied by Tim Saul on the subject of how some islands benefited from RET to the detriment of others, implied that he could do little about it, but he hoped to gain a better understanding of the reasons for it.
Mr MacKenzie’s bland response, as reported in your June 6 edition, to a matter of major importance to Bute is a timely reminder of the difference between political posturing and reality.
W. St Clare, 14 Craignethan, Rothesay