Readers' Letters: Remember when every job was cherished​​​​​​​?

The Scottish Government’s disdain for local manufacturing was evident again yesterday (your report, November 11). Its reaction to the reduction of capacity at the Grangemouth oil refinery, with the loss of 200 jobs, was almost welcoming.

Nearly 200 jobs are to go at Grangemouth refinery
Nearly 200 jobs are to go at Grangemouth refinery

The Infrastructure Secretary, Michael Matheson, expressed textbook concern for those being made redundant but also used the opportunity to wish the petrochemical company “a sustainable future”.

Not so very long ago, every Scottish job was cherished because they all provided working people with the means for self-advancement. Today our snobbish political class hail only the “sustainable”. The rest, like petrochemicals, are expendable. In another age a threat to Scotland’s petroleum independence would have had nationalists revving their engines with bumper stickers declaring “Fuel Freedom”. In this new woke world, energy security is readily traded for a speaker spot at COP26.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As the Scottish industrial base shrinks inexorably, so does our understanding of the key manufacturing jobs multiplier and the effect it has on both upstream and downstream employment; one job inside a petrochemical plant can sustain 16 outside, which means 3,200 workers could now be under threat throughout the Central Belt, way more than the number employed in the entire Scottish offshore wind industry (fewer than 2,000).

Scotland is missing a modern industrial strategy to defend and expand our local manufacturing base. Endlessly providing government cash and support to foreign wind farm companies has proven a one-trick donkey with a broken leg.

Calum Miller, Polwarth Terrace, Prestonpans, East Lothian

Define terms

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major has risked irritating everyone in Scotland with his intervention in the independence debate, saying we should have a referendum, but that it should be in two parts. The first part would be a vote to secure the mandate to negotiate, the second would be on the outcome of those negotiations. With all the things we have to live with at the moment, none of this should be an issue at all, of course, but the reality is that the 2014 vote did not resolve this problem, and the six-year-long, one-sided campaign has kept it alive as an issue. If a referendum did not resolve the issue in 2014, another vote, whatever the outcome, will not resolve it either.

So, John Major is right. Any vote in future has to be done in a different way, and it is worth just going back to basics and remembering what the purpose of a referendum actually is. A referendum is where the government ask the people for permission to take them from their current constitutional position, to some new position. In order for the electorate to be properly informed in their choice, they need to understand what that new position actually is. In 2014, we were given a vague and often contradictory indication of the rough direction of travel. We had the same problems in 2016. Politicians need to show more respect to the electorate and define properly what the alternative actually is, and the only way to do that is to negotiate it. Interestingly, George Galloway and his colleagues have come to more or less the same conclusion, asking for a Clarity Act.

If Nicola Sturgeon gets her majority of seats next May, the UK government should organise the first vote themselves in September 2021, to not let the SNP string things out for as long as possible. If they achieve a mandate to negotiate, start talks immediately, and allow 18 months to complete them. We have to give people the clarity of information that they require, and indeed, deserve.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Family ties

Far more important than Major's two elections is the electors' three choices: status quo, indy, a federal UK.

Indy is never the only or best alternative to remaining in the UK. Most of the world's successful nations (the ones that share a largely common culture, language, tradition and history) are in some form or another of a federal union; and, further, it is a nonsense that any island state should be needlessly divided. Personally I wish to see a united Ireland for much the same reason as a united Britain: families should be supported, not divided.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Think freely

Much has been made recently of the crass divide in the USA between the Trumpists and Biden supporters. Yet in the UK it's becoming evident that there's a libertarian/authoritarian split, exemplified by attitudes to compulsory masking, with the latter demanding strict adherence while ignoring the fact that masking was deemed unnecessary for nearly three months. Not a few authoritarians are sanctimonious would-be Covid marshals; I have even witnessed them boorishly challenging fellow bus passengers, who turn out to be exempt from masking.

Such people would probably obey any state diktat, till the consequences dawned on them, failing to realise that the state is the problem and not the solution. One only has to look at 20th-century Germany to see how the Gestapo and the Stasi profited from the denunciatory zeal of a substantial, petty minority of the populace.

Libertarians recognise that any society, large or small, requires voluntary governance; monastic orders, for example, have rules of obedience. But decisions on masking should be left to individual judgement (I wear a mask in polluted streets and on crowded public transport). Our governments' handling of the pandemic is revealing the Great British Divide; our belief or otherwise in the benevolence and competence of the state.

George Morton, Hudson Road, Rosyth

Indy answers

David Millar (Letters, 10 November) believes it is invalid to say that the Scottish electorate rejected plans by the Conservatives to stop Indyref2 because there are “Bigger UK matters to consider when deciding how to vote” but fails to mention that stopping IndyRef2 was the flagship of the Conservatives’ campaign in Scotland, infatuated to this commitment to a point where they forgot to list their own MPs on their flyers.

All Mr Millar has shown is that the Conservatives were not trusted by the Scottish electorate with “UK matters” in 2019. If he believes this is insufficient evidence, I challenge him to find a general election result in the last 65 years to contradict this view.

Putting polls regarding the restoration of Scottish independence aside, he believes he has put every independence supporter in their place by asking them how it would be paid for, perhaps in anticipation of the myth regarding Scotland’s deficit or the constraints Scotland faces, having control over less than a third of taxes raised in Scotland. An independent Scotland would not have this issue and would have full control over revenue and taxation.

Counterintuitively, Scottish MPs can only dream of an increase in control over Scottish finances, such as their attempt to include full fiscal autonomy within the Scotland Act only to be voted down.

Despite having a mandate, with another scheduled for May 2021, he accuses the First Minister of “consigning democracy to the waste bin”. I ask him, is it the same one in which the will of the people of Scotland has been consigned to, which saw full fiscal autonomy rejected and the end of Scotland’s EU membership against its will?

Nikita Romanovs, Harvesters Way, Edinburgh

Loopy law

Scottish politicians may not be aware that a certain new law which came into force on 7 November 2020 does not have God’s approval. Under the guise of the Children (Equal Protection from Assault – Scotland) Act, it is now illegal and unlawful to spank your naughty children, as a means of parental discipline

Yes, if a rebellious child for any reason misbehaves, has tantrums, clouts a sibling or disobeys what mum and dad says, then a wee loving smack, a wee spank and a wee skelp, is now prohibited!

Think of it; for this deplorable crime you will be prosecuted! This is how irrational and loopy Scottish politicians are in 2020! It really is an absurdity, and makes them all unfit for purpose. One really wonders whether a lash or two of the good old Lochgelly would bring them to their senses.

Yes, everyone accepts that the State must intervene to protect children who are in danger of abuse, in fact there are laws already in place to deal with guilty culprits.

But excuse me, smacking is not child abuse. The real abuse to the child is not to spank them when they need correction. Most reasonable people know there is a big difference between child abuse and loving parental discipline. Those who defend loving smacking as a means of discipline are wholly opposed to all cruelty towards children.

While I've never received a smack I didn't deserve as a child, it certainly wasn't abuse. Neither will it be abuse when I carry it out myself, if needs be. Neither will it be abuse when parents across Scotland apply it.

I dare every lawless politician at Holyrood to say otherwise. When we do disobey our ungodly lawmakers, as many loving parents across Scotland rightly will, I suppose we will be branded felons and hauled before the judiciary!

The continuing intrusion by the Scottish Government over parental sovereignty and family privacy is deeply disturbing.

We again remind them of the damning judgement passed by the UK Supreme Court a few years ago over the preposterous Named Persons Bill: “The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.”

Donald J Morrison, Old Edinburgh Road, Inverness

Write to The Scotsman

We welcome your thoughts. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid Letters to the Editor in your subject line.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.