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READERS’ LETTERS: Pensions remain a toxic issue for Sturgeon and the pursuit of Scottish independence

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Sir, – It is unkind of me to laugh, but Douglas Chapman MP really has got egg on his face. He says it “would be an act of gross contempt if the UK did not pay out pensions to those Scottish taxpayers who had made contributions to the UK (pension) scheme in good faith” and if “the British government reneged on paying out pensions” to Scots.

Nicola Sturgeon has effectively admitted Ian Blackford had been wrong to make that claim last week and she had been wrong to endorse in parliament his words about rUK paying pensions to inhabitants of an iScotland.

Ms Sturgeon told us – incorrectly – that her position had not changed since before 2013, when her own white paper had stated clearly (p144) that the payment of pensions to Scots would transfer to the new Scottish government on separation.

Ms Sturgeon said: “It is for a Scottish government to be responsible for the payment of pensions but the historic liabilities and assets around pensions, as around other things, will be a matter for negotiation at the time of independence.”

It would all depend on a negotiation with an adversary from the country and government Ms Sturgeon and her party had spent many years insulting and abusing. Not a great start to a negotiating process.

Your correspondent Nick Cole asks why I think we would not pay tax in a separate Scotland. Perhaps he could point out where I said any such thing.

Alistair Ballantyne accuses me of “flying a kite” and various other fancies. I have stated the facts as they are.

He perhaps doesn’t know about Ms Sturgeon’s volte-face, nor about the statement by the Pensions Minister Guy Opperman, who said at the weekend that rUK would not expect to pay pensions to Scots after separation.

Your correspondents demonstrate unmistakably the untruths told by Mr Blackford and endorsed by Ms Sturgeon and others, and their unmasking as untruths, reveal that the SNP still regards the pensions issue as one that is toxic for them and their cause.

And so it should be.

Jill Stephenson. Corstorphine, Edinburgh.

Traffic raises pollution alarm

Sir, – Pollution worsens daily and is now very possibly more injurious to health than coronavirus.

It is a national disgrace that government has yet to take effective action.

Many of our streets have become alleyways of toxic fumes being belted-out from the virtually non-stop passage of vehicles, against which the introduction of “clean” electric vehicles will not ameliorate for a number of obvious reasons.

The time has come for toxic-emission alarms to be installed at critically affected zones.

Kenneth Miln. Union Street, Monifieth.

Johnson deserves dishonourable exit

Sir, – It is surely concerning that some of your correspondents appear to think “partygate” is of minor significance.

In fact it goes to the lack of morality at the heart of this present PM and his coterie of partygoers.

It is despicable that these events were happening when others in our land were grieving for loved ones – most notably HM The Queen, who obeyed all the laws.

This reprehensible behaviour has tainted all around the PM who knows no shame, has no moral principles and should be drummed out of office as a dishonourable discharge for his recidivism. Does he not realise the damage he is doing by this?

The sooner the Met and Sue Gray’s reports are out the better and let us get back to a government with a sense of honour, decency and the ability to lead our country.

Beth Boylen. Fintry Place, Broughty Ferry.

Economic logic goes missing

Sir, – Ian Blackford, the SNP Commons leader, has renewed his attack on Boris Johnson as a “walking advert” for independence, when the prime minister visited Scotland yesterday.

Indeed, that about sums it up, doesn’t it?

The SNP argument for separating us from the rest of the UK can be found not in rigorously thought-through, clearly articulated nationalist dogma nor in irrefutable economic logic, but in relentless ad hominem attacks on the prime minister of the day, who may not be with us much longer.

Work to do, Mr Blackford?

Martin Redfern. Melrose, Roxburghshire.

Sir David needs to be taken seriously

Sir, – One of the SNP’s principle rhetorical styles is to use Sir David Spiegelhalter to justify their milk and honey promises.

How refreshing for Sir David to tell his Desert Island Discs audience he was not a government adviser and, with great self-effacement, explained this was a good thing as he tends to be over-optimistic.

This is paralleled by a tweet in which he castigates The Guardian for misquoting him – his correct assertion being that he did not take Covid “seriously enough”.

Such a rare capacity for self-criticism enhances Sir David’s status as a particularly excellent academic, but we do have it from him by inference that we should distrust the SNP’s scurrilous abuse of his over-optimism.

Adrian Grant. Alturlie, Freuchie.

Extinction Rebellion will not stop all oil production

Sir, – William Loneskie uses a very common tactic in his letter.

He is simply reflecting Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) campaign slogan back on to them.

The tactic deployed is to take the slogan to the extreme – he assumes XR will stop all oil production and use, which is nonsense as we all know but in this case it is used as a frightener, just like the nonsensical pensions comments used in recent days by pro-union writers.

XR won’t stop all oil production. They will, however, bring to everyone’s attention that the transition to renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuel needs to speed up, rather than stall.

The key here is energy use; we all know oil is a vital asset we should not simply burn and create CO2 emissions.

The double standards in the letter are remarkable.

In one statement he alleges XR is a revolutionary group attacking the democracy we enjoy.

I ask: What democracy?

Does he not understand that as democracy is removed, the population has two alternatives – suck it up or do something about it.

Next question is what can one legally do?

Peaceful passive protest is what we have been allowed to do up to now.

Priti Patel, the UK’s home secretary, has other views on this subject. There is a raft of legislation that can negatively affect our democratic rights for these types of protest.

This to me seems another case of laws enacted to protect the business owner rather than the individual. It’s just keeping the hoi polloi in it’s place.

But isn’t government for the people and by the people? Oops, that’s America isn’t it?

Alistair Ballantyne. Birkhill, Angus.

Fracking will give us energy security

Sir, – Imagine you are shivering in your cold home when you discover there is treasure buried in your garden and it’s all yours. You are overjoyed, at least until you discover bureaucrats won’t let you dig it up.

Well that is pretty much the position Britain finds itself in, with the Oil and Gas Authority ordering Cuadrilla to permanently seal the two test wells it has drilled into Bowland shale gas formation under northern England.

According to the British Geological Survey there are 37.6 trillion cubic metres of gas in this rock formation.

Just 10% of that gas would meet Britain’s gas needs for 50 years.

And the decision to forego the opportunity for cheap, plentiful, secure gas supplies wasn’t taken by the cabinet or debated in parliament, but in secret by faceless bureaucrats obsessed by the future warming of the planet and utterly indifferent to rising heating bills and soaring fuel poverty now.

Instead we will have to import this gas. More carbon dioxide will be produced shipping fracked gas to us from abroad.

Vladimir Putin’s ability to blackmail the West to ignore his warmongering and human rights abuses will be strengthened.

Our economy will be permanently weaker as we have to pay for all that foreign gas instead of using our own.

It is vital the UK Government overturns this lunatic decision by the Oil and Gas Authority.

Otto Inglis. Ansonhill, Crossgates.

SNP and Greens must think again

Sir, – The Ukraine/Russia confrontation has taught us one thing – Nicola Sturgeon and her Green comrades need to ditch their opposition to North Sea oil and gas production during transition.

The United Kingdom cannot be dependent on importing fuel, which will happen if these ultra socialists get their wish.

It is good news the UK Government intends to encourage oil companies to keep drilling. Our SNP/Green anti-business, anti-economy coalition has turned its back on “Scotland’s oil”, businesses and families dependent on it.

Being reliant on other countries for our oil and gas is not cost-effective and will leave the UK vulnerable and increase emissions elsewhere.

Douglas Cowe. Alexander Avenue, Kingseat.

Economy isn’t safe in Conservative hands

Sir, – After many years of austerity the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer.

The Bank of England predicts household incomes will fall by 2% this year and 0.5% next year.

The United Kingdom has the weakest growth now for 70 years because of high inflation and bad economic management.

The price of energy is the biggest contributor to the UK’s inflation rate of 4.8% and expected to rise to 7%.

The country is a net importer of energy and Westminster will raise the price cap by a stunning 54%.

Trade imbalances are another factor.

So the British economy remains weak while France, for example, forecasts growth at a similar rate but with much lower inflation.

Not a pretty picture but Westminster – aka Boris Johnson – is not making it prettier.

Speculators are driving massive energy prices.

As it is a commodity, it is open in the markets to manipulation, supply, demand, false rumour, availability etc, so many make much profit except the user.

Boris is responsible for energy policy, so is he going to let people freeze and create inflation to make matters worse?

It is in Westminster’s power to open the taps for a positive message that there is no shortage.

Britain is turning into an economic basket case sustained by pure Tory ego, who are corrupt and incompetent.

Britain safe in Tory hands? Sadly now an economic myth.

Ian Wallace. Chapman Drive, Carnoustie.

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