This week’s pick of your letters to The Buteman includes an answer to the West Lothian Question, an appeal to the Smith Commission on future powers for the Scottish Parliament and criticism of the Scottish Government over RET ferry fares.
If you’d like to see your thoughts on any issue of local, national or international importance appear in The Buteman’s print edition, it’s easy to get in touch: just email firstname.lastname@example.org (or click on the email address at the top of this story) with your views by 5pm on Monday.
Please remember to include your name and address for publication, and also a daytime phone number in case we need to contact you at short notice (though this will not be published). Remember to keep your thoughts as brief and to-the-point as possible, and keep in mind that we may have to edit some contributions to our print edition due to limits of space.
Answer to the West Lothian Question
Our system of government is like a great tree, long in the making. Tinker with its roots and you imperil the entire structure.
The questionof whether Scottish MPs should be allowed to vote on English issues and vice versa has an answer. It is: Yes. Why?
The answer was given in 1871 by John Stuart Mill who, expected to vote reflecting the wishes of his constituents, said that he was not put in parliament to be a puppet but to exercise his discretion: to make judgements based on his intellect, education, honesty, decency, courage and insight. Those are the qualities we expect in our MPs, all of whom can be expected to vote on every issue for the good of the union as a whole. If not, they should not be there.
In wartime they are invariably present; less so in time of peace. The values we Britons possess assume this care for the Union as a whole.
If every decision on the interior, domestic issues of Scotland were to be taken only by Scots, that would probably be a bad idea.
The expensive fiascos of the Scottish Parliament building, the Edinburgh trams that do so little for traffic chaos and the opera house that failed to get off the ground for 40 years should cast doubt on the idea that ‘we can look after our own interests best’.
What we need looking after our interests are the best people in the Union, a different thing.
The House of Lords is one of the glories of our system. Why should the best brains be excluded because they have no experience or taste for electioneering? When the Commons is full of self-promoters it is a good balance to have a chamber where the unelected excellent can be influential.
What great poet or scientist could be bothered to canvass his election? He has better things to do. A chamber full of brilliant folk whose first concern is not politics is a check on the other.
The current problem of the Union is not that it requires further devolved powers. That is probably a mistake. Devolution of powers should always be temporary, to see if it works, and should be taken away if it does not or adversely affects other parts of it. The extent to which powers are devolved should be reviewed from time to time.
The root cause of the 45 per cent vote for Scottish Independence is not lack of self governing powers but lack of respect in Scotland for the English - and in England for the Scots.
A union without respect on both sides can be expected to divorce. The very word ‘English’ is a hate word to many Scottish ears. They will support any country playing England at sport but never England.
That Scots have to cross the border with Bank of England notes (instead of our own) is an outrage every Scot is aware of. There ought to be one bank-note for the Union: it should have the Queen’s head on it and best of all, if the very institution is changed to ‘The Bank of Britain’. That elementary move would do much to decrease the heat of rage in many Scottish hearts.
That problem should have been addressed years ago by Westminster. They did not think such lack of respect mattered. Now they see they were wrong.
There is a perception by Scots that the English are arrogant, patronising and selfish. That needs to change. The concept of ‘the Briton’ has to be put above that of the Scot or the Englishman. The Union must come first.
A decade ago racist language was outlawed. It worked, largely. Disrespect within the union between brother nations should likewise be outlawed.
Snobbery and arrogance have no place in our union. Excellence in every dimension is what we seek and what we should stand for. A proper respect for those less well off or endowed is part of it.
What must not change is Westminster itself. That is one of the glories of this Union. It should remain pre-eminent, no matter that there are devolved parliaments. And every one of the Union’s 650 MPs should be expected to vote on every issue.
William Scott, 23 Argyle Place, Rothesay
Open house event raises Macmillan cash
We would like to take this opportunity to thank family, friends and neighbours for helping to make our Macmillan coffee event such a success on Thursday, September 25.
We opened our home between 1pm and 2.30pm for coffee and cakes, some of which were kindly donated by the Electric Bakery and Elizabeth Wilcock. We raised £120, with a further £21 coming from raffle ticket sales.
Added to this, Carlyn Stirling steadfastly walked the streets of Rothesay with ‘Big Ted’, asking people to guess how many buttons were in a jar to have him go and live with them! This raised a further £120.
Sophie Reid from The Dressing Room was the closest to the correct number of 826 with her guess.
A grand total of £261 raised has now been sent to Macmillan Cancer Support, so thank you all once again.
We are now looking forward to our mince pie and mulled wine event in December!
Brian & Michaela Nicholson, 14 High Road, Port Bannatyne
UK parties owe Scotland ‘devo max’ after vote
In the days and weeks leading up to the Scottish referendum, many promises and vows were made to the people of Scotland from the Westminster parties, led in particular by Grdon Brown.
He stated that the new powers would be akin to ‘devo max’, and as close to federalism as was possible to get.
Given that many voted No based on these promises and vows, we must hold them accountable, ensuring that they are fulfilled.
The Smith Commission was set up to ensure this process. Lord Smith of Kelvin has asked the people of Scotland for their opinion of how ‘new powers’ should take form.
This is my email to the Smith Commission. Please take the time to email them and keep up the pressure. You are welcome to copy this if you want.
Email to email@example.com
“As a Scottish citizen and voter in the recent referendum I enclose my wishes for the new powers which were promised to Scotland in the event of a No vote.
“I believe without a doubt that the promises made within the ‘vow’ and by Gordon Brown, speaking on behalf of the cross-party No campaign, made in the days before the referendum, promised the people of Scotland that ‘within two years there would be as close to a federal state as is possible within the UK’.
“This ‘vow’ affected the outcome of the referendum and in order for it to be upheld, the following powers need to be transferred on a permanent basis to Scotland:
- Control of all taxation raised in Scotland.
- Control of all areas of government except for the defence and foreign affairs.
- Control of the welfare and benefits system.
- Control of policy regarding state pension.
- Control of oil and gas tax revenues generated in Scottish waters.
- Control of broadcasting policy.
- Guaranteed consultation by the UK Government with the Scottish Government when deciding the UK’s stance in European Union negotiations.
“I believe that these are the powers which were promised to Scotland in the event of a No vote and the Scottish people voted accordingly.
“Therefore if these promises are not followed through, as a sovereign nation we hold within our hands the power to make the changes to our country that the majority of our citizens accordingly voted for.”
Hugh Moodie, 12 Bryce Avenue, Rothesay
MSPs must explain stance over RET
From October 26, the Scottish Government’s RET fares reduction for Arran will mean that ferrying a car with two passengers from Ardrossan to Brodick and back will cost £44.30. That compares with a return fare of £41.90 from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay and back - roughly half as far as the distance to Arran.
The people of Bute should demand that the Scottish transport minister, Keith Brown, and Argyll and Bute’s MSP, Michael Russell, come to a public meeting here to explain their stupid decision to favour Arran over Bute.
It is vital that Bute gets a major fares reduction for tourists, coaches and commercial vehicles by next spring to prevent our economy collapsing.
Additionally, our ferries can cope with the extra traffic likely to be generated by RET fares, whereas Arran’s may not.
N.H. Lamond, 2 Crichton View, Rothesay