Sir, – After recent stories in The Courier regarding snakes, I feel I should defend these animals against people’s ignorance and misconceptions.
Snakes have been given a bad name over the years through films, social media and misinformation.
Royal Pythons do not grow to 14 feet. On average they grow to four or five feet.
They make a great first reptile pet as they are quite placid.
Yes, they can bite as can dogs, cats, rabbits but no worse than a hamster.
As with all animals, and people, they can also have their off days.
If people were to educate themselves then these animals would not be feared as much as they are.
People using snakes as a means to intimidate reinforces the misconception that these animals are dangerous, scary and to be feared.
This is a reflection of the person’s stupidity rather than the nature of snakes.
People fear what they do not understand. Education is a great thing.
West Mains of Turin,
Universities should grow up
Sir, – I write in reply to Eddie Small’s article (June 23) supporting honorary degrees.
They are a cynical marketing ploy by universities that detract from the hard work put in by candidates who actually earned the degree.
Why should a celebrity get a degree they have not worked for? Aren’t they already overpaid, in most cases?
I have a doctorate that in total, took me seven years of study from school to achieve.
So should I be entitled to a mega-pounds salary and celebrity status for it?
Clearly, not. So why should the great and good get status they have not worked for?
The examples that Mr Small quotes are largely undeserving, or have not met any academic standards that real graduands have to.
Besides, don’t we already have a civil award list for some deserving candidates?
Of course, sometimes this marketing move by universities backfires spectacularly. One example is the award to Donald Trump.
Universities should grow up and behave with some dignity and justice.
45 Clayhills Drive,
Scots pay to teach the world
Sir, – It is the time of year when some newspapers publish graduation lists of Scottish universities.
Much is made by the SNP of “free tuition” for Scots students. It is only free if you can get a place.
As is well known there is a cap on the number of places available for non-paying Scottish and EU students as economic reality dictates that universities require fee income to survive.
The graduation lists are dominated by non-British and non-EU students.
One example I would point readers to, though there are many, is the graduation list for the degree of master of business administration at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
A rough count showed a total of 380 graduates. I could see about 28 names that could be British though had no way of knowing how many were Scottish.
There were a further 38 that could have been EU students leaving more than 300 who were Asian or African fee payers.
The SNP talk about investing in Scotland’s future by educating our young people while the reality is we’re educating the rest of the world at our children’s expense because of an ideological, unsustainable fixation.
New roles for former MPs?
Sir, – Pete Wishart, Mhairi Black and Nicola Sturgeon have objected to the appointment of Ian Duncan, MEP, who narrowly lost to Pete Wishart in the general election, to the unelected House of Lords.
They have a point, especially since none of the 21 SNP MPs who lost their seats on June 8 would accept such ennoblement.
I will, however, be interested to see how many of them accept unelected jobs in publicly funded Scottish bodies in the next few months.
I will also be keen to understand the selection process.
1 Willow Row.
Holyrood does not have veto
Sir, – Commentators have again incorrectly highlighted the potential for Holyrood to veto the Great Repeal Bill and, therefore, Brexit.
The issue has arisen once more because there is discussion again over the prospect that the Brexit bill might require an accompanying legislative consent motion (LCM) at Holyrood. That is because departing from the European Union impinges upon powers – such as justice and agriculture – which are devolved.
However, an LCM does not amount to a veto and the Scottish Government has never claimed it had a potential veto over Brexit.
The LCM builds upon the Sewel Convention, which is just that, a convention.
Westminster is and remains sovereign and MPs can legislate as they choose, including in devolved areas.
However, the UK Government, particularly in its current weakened state, will not want to roll over the devolved administrations. It could, legally but it will not want to politically and there is clearly a deal that will require to be done here.
The Scottish Government will be more inclined to consent to the Bill if it is granted a real role in the Brexit negotiations themselves, with a place in the UK negotiating team, perhaps with a seat at the top table when devolved matters are discussed with the European Commission.
The ball is in the UK Government’s court but it would be perilous to ignore the devolved administrations.
77 Leamington Terrace,
SNP may seek to trigger crisis
Sir, – Figures in the SNP suggest their support for the Great Repeal Bill could be traded for a seat at Brexit negotiations.
Yet for the SNP, the only satisfactory Brexit outcome is the unworkable compromise they proposed at the end of last year. This would see the whole of the UK, or at least Scotland, remain in the single market, with its four freedoms, regulations and laws all adhered to in full, which is tantamount to overturning the EU referendum result.
The underlying purpose of SNP tactics on the EU is to fabricate grievance over Brexit to justify another independence referendum.
If the SNP sees political advantage in blocking a Legislative Consent Motion it will do so, without care for the ramifications for the UK, including Scotland.
The constitutional crisis that this might trigger, would simply be viewed by the SNP as another stepping stone to getting their way.