Whisky exports could power economy

A whisky sample is taken from a cask at Bruichladdich in Islay.

Sir, – I read with interest the portents of doom listed by your correspondent AG Walker (May 13) regarding the dangers of Scottish independence.

His depiction of a family war with brother against brother and father against son is fanciful in the extreme.

Difference of opinions yes, but one doubts whether healthy debate would ever get beyond this stage. The union was born of political pressure on the Scottish Parliament and was not the most popular of decisions at the time among the population

It certainly has been no bed of roses with a political imbalance in parliamentary representation being arguably the root cause. We know from the McCrone Report that the UK Government used Scottish oil revenues to bail out a faltering UK economy but placed on it top secret status at the time to avoid political embarrassment .

The cry that Scotland is too wee and too poor to be independent won’t wash. The GERS statistics oft quoted by those opposing independence are made up of estimated figures and not audited accounts. It is clear Scotland is capable of standing on its own two feet. A figure of £100 billion of exports are a sound foundation.

Between 2002 and 2015 the food and drink sector increased by 73%. Nine new distilleries were built between 2014 and 2016 with a further 40 planned. Without whisky exports, the UK’s trade deficit would have been 12% higher.

Colin Mayall.
1 Almond Place,


Manifesto death wish?

Sir, – The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto states they would resettle 50,000 more Syrian refugees in Britain at a cost of £4.3 billion.

There is no mention of the additional pressures on social housing, education, the NHS and the welfare bill.

Leader Tim Farron said that reports of the sex attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2015 by immigrants were “utterly overstated”.

I suppose the escalating immigrant crime rates and that armed police now have to be deployed in hospitals in Sweden, Germany and elsewhere in Europe are all “utterly overstated”.

The Liberal Democrats have only nine MPs yet their manifesto reads like a death wish.

Clark Cross.
138 Springfield Road,


Greens ditch principles

Sir, – Andrew Marr and Gordon Brewer put Nicola Sturgeon and Patrick Harvie to the sword on television on Sunday.

You could hear the clatter of wheels coming off the Green and SNP alliance.

It heralded the end of Scotland’s sojourn in the wilderness of a possible second referendum on independence.

Ms Sturgeon was all at sea on education and nurses’ pay, and her policy on the European Union is now as clear as mud. Mr Harvie’s ducking and diving confirmed his decision to field only three candidates at the general election on June 8 is a naked betrayal of environmentalism and kow-tow towing to the SNP.

Mr Harvie reminds me of the wee boys who used to hang around the bullies at school.

Voters need to go for the jugular on June 8; vote for whoever will beat the SNP and judge the result as if it was a referendum – on the total Scottish vote, not just seats.

Allan Sutherland.
1 Willow Row,


SNP running scared in Fife

Sir, – We know that numeracy and literacy have suffered under the independence-obsessed SNP.

Nothing demonstrates this more that the SNP’s claims that north-east Fife is a “straight fight” between the SNP and Conservatives.

Each of the last four elections in north-east Fife have been between the Liberal Democrats and SNP, with Willie Rennie beating the SNP last year and the Lib Dems topping the poll this May. The Conservatives have trailed behind in third place.

Even the electoral calculus site that the SNP quotes shows that in predicted votes, the Conservatives are third behind the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.

The SNP want to fool people into thinking the Conservatives can win because they know they are under threat of losing north-east Fife to the Liberal Democrats.

Anthony Garrett.
1 Royal Terrace,


Scots children have been failed

Sir, – It is appalling that illiteracy levels across Scottish schools have doubled over the past 10 years, the term of office of the SNP.

This shows the flagship policy of the Scottish Government, the Curriculum for Excellence, has failed the country’s children.

We were promised that the attainment gap between the richest and poorest would be closed, yet this gulf has steadily remained unchanged, with six out of 10 children from the most deprived areas failing to meet the benchmark for writing and numeracy.

This is a sad indictment upon our education system and reveals we are lagging behind other countries. It is hardly an endorsement for Scotland’s future place in an increasingly competitive world.

David L Thomson.
24 Laurence Park,


Impossible comparisons

Sir, – As he released the results of the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN), the best that Education Secretary John Swinney could come up with in the face of the evidence of further declines in standards was that “we must stay the course”.

That will hardly reassure parents who have witnessed a steady fall in pupil performance in these critical areas over the course of the SNP’s 10 years in power.

Now Keir Bloomer, one of the authors of the Curriculum for Excellence system that dominates the way education is delivered in Scotland, says that as the SNP government has decided to scrap the SSLN and replace it with nationalised standardised testing, meaningful comparisons with the last many years of decline will be rendered impossible.

Perhaps the SNP’s approach to pupil performance research is going to mirror its stance on referendums, namely, redoing them until they get a result they like.

Keith Howell.
White Moss,
West Linton.