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Letters: The sophistry behind SNP demands for a second independence vote

·9-min read
Nicola Sturgeon - pool/getty
Nicola Sturgeon - pool/getty

SIR – Historians looking back will think the British Government mad if it accedes to SNP demands for another independence referendum.

With a 63 per cent turnout and 47.7 per cent of the vote, only 30 per cent of the Scottish electorate and 2.7 per cent of the British electorate actually supported this demand.

The idea that, so soon after gaining its own independence, Britain should hand back a strategically important part of our country to the now somewhat hostile Franco-German hegemony we have only just escaped is preposterous. Britain is still part of the friendly worldwide Commonwealth of nations that the Scots and English created. Now that we are free of the EU, that is where our future lies.

Most Scots already understand this, and Nicola Sturgeon’s plan for dragging them back into the EU wil be consigned to history.

David Watt
Brentwood, Essex

SIR – There will now be huge pressure over the next few years for a second referendum. Refusing to allow this merely puts off the day when it will happen.

Boris Johnson should agree to a vote on the condition that, before it takes place, the details of what an independent Scotland would look like are fleshed out by an independent study. This may reveal a far less rosy picture than the SNP is currently painting and ensure that the result is not based on pipe dreams.

Jos Binns
Camerton, Somerset

SIR – Perhaps the Prime Minister should call the First Minister’s bluff.

Yes, she can have her referendum, but with a two-thirds majority required – and no rerun for 25 years.

Nik Perfitt
Bristol

Watch/; Scottish independence referendum - Nicola Sturgeon tells Boris Johnson new vote is 'when, not if'

SIR – Nicola Sturgeon has a blinkered view of democracy. She ignores the fact that Scotland is but one part of a wider democracy known as the United Kingdom. The people of its four countries have an interest in whether Scotland remains in the Union or becomes independent, and a true democrat would acknowledge that they should all have votes in her proposed referendum.

She may get a rude shock if they send her and her country packing into the North Sea.

John Bromley-Davenport QC
Malpas, Cheshire

SIR – I notice that the Scottish border counties all voted Conservative.

There seems to be little support for the SNP in this part of the country. If there is another referendum, could it be invited to remain in Britain?

Thomas Norcross
Chippenham, Wiltshire

SIR – Just as Ukip all but disappeared after Brexit, will the SNP cease to exist once its goal has been achieved, with more traditional parties returning?

Professor Alan Gadian
Sidmouth, Devon

Labour in crisis

SIR – A combination of Boris Johnson’s campaigning, a successful vaccine rollout, the return of Ukip votes to the Conservative fold, and the effects of “long Corbyn” have left Labour in a parlous state, which may be terminal.

I am not a socialist, and have never voted Labour, but the party must now take whatever radical action may be required to get its act together.

Matthew Butler
Badminton, Gloucestershire

SIR – The Hartlepool by-election reminded me of the recent debate about keys on this page.

The Labour Party has a box of old keys (Jeremy Corbyn, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson et al) that were all tried during the run-up to Super Thursday. None fitted.

J S F Cash
Swinford, Leicestershire

SIR – The stunning success of the Conservative Party in Hartlepool and elsewhere was due in part to Labour’s woke liberal elites being completely out of touch with their base, but also due to the fact that the Tories have lurched to the Left with their high taxation and big-spending agenda.

There needs to be an opposition to this – from the Right of centre. If this happens, the main battlegrounds won’t be in the North but in the Tory heartlands of the South.

Peter Wiltshire
Binfield, Berkshire

SIR – One of the surprises of the London mayoral election was the strength of the showing put in by the Conservative candidate, Shaun Bailey.

It makes me regret the lost potential. Throughout the campaign the contest was largely treated as a sideshow by the Conservatives, who gave up hope before the vote even happened.

Imagine if resources had been put into contesting it properly: we might have pulled off a hat-trick of upsets, from Hartlepool to councils to London. Never dismiss as futile any election.

Robert Frazer
Salford, Lancashire

Watch: Change at the top as Keir Starmer completes Labour shadow cabinet reshuffle

Debt debacle

SIR – Further to my recent letter (April 24) about bailiffs applying for entry warrants on behalf of energy companies, the situation worsens.

We are now in a position where there is a blanket ban by the energy suppliers on providing energy to our new tenant in an industrial unit unless he pays £1,954.30, supposedly owed by the previous tenant.

We are being held to ransom by the suppliers for a debt between them and one of their clients – a contract to which we are not a party. Is this legal?

Peter Martinez
Chagford, Devon

Long-haul garlic

SIR – I was brought up with the image of beret-wearing Frenchmen cycling through English villages with strings of garlic around their shoulders.

Sadly, last week I could not find garlic in any supermarket – not even German Aldi – that has not flown devastating air-miles from China (Letters, May 8).

Derek Foster
Nottingham

Bubble trouble

SIR – When washing the dishes, if I put the soap in first, then fill the bowl with hot water, everything disappears in a sea of bubbles. If I fill the bowl first, then add the washing-up liquid, I get no bubbles. What part do they play?

Brian Foster
Shrivenham, Oxfordshire

Elusive GPs

SIR – Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England’s medical director of primary care (Letters, May 7), says that “patients who need to see a doctor face to face should always be given this option”.

That is emphatically not that case in my local surgery. Moreover, the assertion that “everyone working in primary care remains committed to ensuring face to face appointments continue to be offered” is risible.

If these statements are correct, why is there so much clamour from patients to the contrary? I invite Dr Kanani publicly to reveal the formula that gets past the gatekeepers.

Philip Barry
Dover, Kent

SIR – I am saddened by the complaints about the service offered by GPs.

Throughout lockdown my doctor has been available to talk on the phone, and has taken immediate action to deal with my problems – for example, by arranging for me to have a scan, an X-ray and, ultimately, a steroid injection in my arthritic knee, with excellent results.

I could not be more grateful.

Jeanne Faber
Arundel, West Sussex

SIR – It is clear that there is a vast disparity in the quality of service offered to patients by different doctors’ surgeries.

The problem is that most surgeries are virtual monopolies, with a trend towards the amalgamation of practices into larger centralised units.

What is required is the opposite: a proliferation of smaller practices where competition for patient numbers, the principal determinant of income, would ensure that the highest levels of “customer” service were maintained.

Steve Black
Nottingham

P-mail

SIR – My great grandfather, Charles Martin, used to travel the country overseeing the installation of glasshouses in stately homes, for Messengers and Sons of Loughborough.

His mode of transport was a motorbike, with a box on the back for his pigeon (Letters, May 8).

On arriving safely at his destination, he would attach a note to the pigeon and send it back to his wife and six children, so that they would know he was well: the precursor of a text message.

Avril Wright
Snettisham, Norfolk

A secure British supply of rare earth metals

A road to a lithium plant on Bolivia’s salt flat, home to half the world’s reserves - alamy
A road to a lithium plant on Bolivia’s salt flat, home to half the world’s reserves - alamy

SIR – You report that ministers are considering creating “a national stockpile of rare earth metals” for electric cars.

This is a case of too little, too late, as evidenced by the announcement last Thursday of the proposed takeover of the AIM company Bacanora Lithium plc by Gangfen, a Chinese company. Stockpiling is only a delaying tactic: we need to own the source to be secure.

As so often in the UK, this company has done all the exploration and development of the Sonora site in Mexico over many years, and is preparing to go into production. It is great prize for China – unless a speedy counterbid is launched from the UK or US.

Michael Legg
Reigate, Surrey

SIR – As rare-earth metals are so named because supplies are limited, and they entail mining, can somebody explain how electric cars and vehicles are green?

Add to this the production of the vehicles, steel manufacture, plastics and the disposal of worn-out batteries (which are estimated to last six or seven years), along with the wear on tyres and roads from much heavier battery trucks and buses, and these vehicles’ environmental credentials begin to look questionable.

Meanwhile, vast stores of unused oil and petrol – which, with the right technology, have the potential to be used more cleanly – lie buried. You could not make it up.

Roger Payne
London NW3

Parliament’s archives belong in Westminster

SIR – While fantastic progress appears to have been made in preparing Parliament’s millions of historic records to move out during the refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster, I do hope that any relocation to either the National Archives or the London Metropolitan Archives will be a temporary arrangement – and only for the duration of the building restoration.

As your leader (May 4) suggests, it is vital that these extraordinary archives return permanently to Westminster, to the site where they have been stored since 1497. Such a return would preferably be to a purpose-built facility on the wider parliamentary estate, where they can be better accessed by the public and their services supported by the Parliamentary Archives’ excellent, prize-winning staff.

To break the link between Westminster and its 500 years of written heritage would greatly hinder both Houses’ attempts to engage the public with their work, at a time when understanding our democratic institutions is more crucial than ever, and when politicians’ decision-making is under such scrutiny.

Dr Caroline Shenton
Director of the Parliamentary Archives, 2008-2014
Cambridge

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