Letters: Independence alone will let us tackle the education attainment gap

PERHAPS Richard Allison (letters, August 12) can enlighten me as to when Scotland had the world’s leading education system, as it certainly wasn’t in either of our lifetimes.

If he was serious about tackling the education attainment gap, which was narrowing prior to Covid, he would be demanding that our Scottish Government got the full powers to tackle poverty and inequality which are the main reasons behind the gap.

The gap is much worse in England, and a report by the Institute for Government on the Department for Education’s handling of school assessment in England during the pandemic is highly critical. It illustrated the superior performance by the SNP leadership in the crisis, which funnelled money through local authorities with much better outcomes.

The good news is that a record number of over 31,000 Scottish students have obtained places at Scottish universities this year.

As we are governed by a UK Government with the worst state benefits and most punitive approach to poverty in the Western world, any Scottish government can only partly influence the fate of children through the education system.

With independence we could follow the Scandinavian model and drastically cut the gap between the richest and poorest in society which is the surest way to reduce the education attainment gap.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

THE INDUCTION OF THE GREENS

WITH Ms Sturgeon still grandstanding about holding a referendum relatively soon, we clearly cannot expect her attention to focus any more than it has done in recent years on failures like the widening of the attainment gap in schools, the poverty mortality rate in Scotland’s poorest areas, and the disgraceful distinction of Scotland having by far the highest rate of drug deaths in Europe.

Now, we are about to have the Neanderthal Greens inducted into government. If their prospectus were ever implemented, it wouldn’t be only our gas boilers that were consigned to the dustbin.

Yes, we need to make adjustments to combat climate change. But we are courting the kind of people whose vision is of a return to an earlier age and a sharp decline in our standard of living, with the added bonus of asserting that sexes are immutable being punishable under hate crime law.

I know not many people voted Green in May, but one has to ask why anyone did.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

INSTABILITY MEANS A BLEAK FUTURE

THE death knell has unfortunately been sounded for the McVitie’s staff in Glasgow with the failure of the Scottish Government to present a viable option for the company to continue their presence in the city.

This will result in 472 staff losing their jobs, and a loss to the council in business rates and a hit to the Scottish economy in general.

The SNP just don’t understand that businesses need security and stability to invest. Nicola Sturgeon and her incessant talk of another independence referendum does not offer that.

Excess capacity in the UK was the reason given for looking to close the plant.

Until the SNP and their supporters wake up and smell the coffee while eating a McVitie’s biscuit made in England, Scotland’s economic future looks bleak.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.

DIFFICULTIES WITH OVERSEAS TRAVEL

I WAS interested to read Ian McConnell’s article, “Do not be fooled: Sunak did not rescue summer holidays” (Business Voices, August 11).

I am one of those people who wish to travel for non-holiday reasons – I have an unmarried Canadian partner of 30 years who now lives in Canada.

I continue to believe that the intention of the governments of all four UK regions has been to make international travel, when permitted, to be so complicated, unpleasant and with additional expenses that people will choose not to travel.

This has allowed the governments to avoid the need to continue to ban international travel and, as has been seen by the general lack of support for the travel industry (in its broadest sense), to avoid the economic and political impacts on their popularity of outright bans.

I accept that Canada is not currently permitting non-citizens to enter but I fully anticipate that it will be April 2022 before I am actually in a position to use a KLM ticket that was originally booked for April 2020.

By that time, it will be 28 months since I have physically been in my partner’s presence.

Duncan J McKay, Aberdeen.

NATIONALISM’S DARKER SIDE

YOUR correspondent Stan Grodynski (August 11) refers to 65 countries which have gained independence from the UK and tells us that none are clamouring to return to colony status.

However, he is quite mistaken to compare those countries to Scotland which is not, and never has been, a colony, but is and has always been an integral part of the UK since it was set up.

In fact, the only direct comparison that can be made is with Ireland, where the clamour against independence was so strong that the island was partitioned to accommodate the wishes of those who wished to remain British. In addition, those who had opposed independence in what became the Republic were systematically ostracised, their businesses and farms were boycotted and ruined, in many cases their homes were destroyed, and people forced from their own country.

Such is Nationalism, and this is the fate with which Mr Grodynski should compare that of Scotland, potentially: I am sure most people would rather avoid it.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

GIVE FM THE CREDIT SHE DESERVES

ALAN Fitzpatrick, in his letter “FM’s day job is to run Scotland” (August 11), certainly covers the First Minister with credit, because that is exactly what she is doing and has been doing all through the pandemic.

Mr Fitzpatrick claims Ms Sturgeon is paid handsomely in her role as First Minister and I would agree.

However, it may be worth pointing out that she and her Scottish ministers have had a

self-imposed ministerial pay freeze since 2008/09.

The money gathered from the pay freeze goes into public spending, something we all benefit from.

Finally, Mr Fitzpatrick talks about the SNP’s obsession with independence. It may come as a surprise but the Scottish National Party’s existence has, at its core and foundation, independence for Scotland.

The time will come when Indyref2 is the main focus, but that will only come about when the pandemic is under control, sentiments I am sure the First Minister holds dear.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

THE UK’S ‘ELECTED DICTATORSHIP’

I would gently remind Alan Fitzpatrick that Nicola Sturgeon is a leader of an elected government, not simply an administration.

To get elected she stood on a manifesto, which included certain commitments on the future constitutional position of Scotland.

Manifestos are a kind of contract with the public, and I merely wish her to carry out her part of the “bargain”.

The time frame I gave was not “now” but late 2022.

Sturgeon was elected by a somewhat larger percentile of the electorate than Boris Johnson was.

As we see in Adam Tomkins’ piece, Johnson could have used his minority vote (but ludicrously a “landslide” at Westminster) to alter not just the relationship of the judiciary to the lawmakers, but also the UK constitution and public rights – to dish out state contracts to the “chumocracy” and anything else that entered his head.

This perennial “elected dictatorship” is one of the reasons Scotland should leave.

GR WEIR, OCHILTREE.

THE RETURN OF THE GRUMPY OLD MEN

COVID is not the only problem. It is important that during the current pandemic sight is not lost of the many other medical conditions and syndromes that we may fall foul of.

For example, my dear lady wife recently informed me that I suffer from MOG Syndrome – or, to give it its full Latin sobriquet, “Moaningus oldus gitus”.

Apparently, the condition is of slow onset, confined to males of the species. There is no cure and the condition does not merit sympathy.

Why has the SNP administration taken its eye off the ball and allowed this to happen to me? I demand my money back! Where do I register a complaint? I bet there is no formal route – typical. Makes me so angry! Nurse! Medication! Now!

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

STARTLING GREED OF DAVID CAMERON

ANY lingering sympathy I once had for David Cameron, our former premier, has vanished completely. The repeated stories about his lucrative involvement with Greensill and now with Illumina, the US biotech firm, speak to a startling greed and overwhelming sense of entitlement on his part.

S Matthews, Glasgow.

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The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992