Sir, – I read (May 7) that David Fox-Pitt was banned from riding his penny farthing during last weekend’s Etape Caledonia for health and safety reasons.
A week or so ago, I was in Normandy with David Fox-Pitt and others, visiting some of the D-Day beaches and parachute dropping zones.
I wonder how health and safety would comment on the following scenario?
“Having flown over the Channel, you will parachute, in the dark, into a foreign country where the local authorities will have one aim, to shoot you.
“Heavy enemy anti-aircraft fire will probably have forced the air armada to disperse, so you may well find that you are alone on landing.
“You must find out where you are, try to meet up with others and get to a predesignated rendezvous, which may be up to 20 miles away, taking care to avoid the enemy who will be looking for you.
“If you can’t move, having been injured on landing, you’ll just have to do the best you can.”
In comparison, doesn’t the health and safety risk of riding a penny-farthing in Etape Caledonia look rather insignificant? I sympathise with David Fox-Pitt’s frustration.
How lucky we are that health and safety did not exist in 1944 and that 156,500 young men were prepared to face the risks of the D-Day beaches and do their duty, as a result of which we were able to celebrate VE Day.
Rules are fine but surely there must be room for common sense and judgment in their application. Courier readers might like to cock a snook at this ridiculous application of health and safety rules by sponsoring David’s Nepal appeal.
This can be done through Mercy Corps’ appeal, either online to www.justgiving.com/david-fox-pitt or by cheques made out to Mercy Corps and sent to David Fox-Pitt at Kindrochit House, Ard Talnaig, By Aberfeldy, PH15 2HX.Christopher Dunphie.
Wester Cloquhat, Bridge of Cally, Blairgowrie.
Royal example of joint strength
Sir, – I read with interest your article (May 7) on Saint Margaret, who, as wife of Malcolm III, was renowned for her good influence on the Scottish king, as well as for bringing culture to the Scottish court.
While the article states that Margaret was born in 1045, it avoids listing where.
In fact, she was born in Hungary, of an English father and German mother and brought up from the age of 12 years in England, where she was styled Margaret of Wessex.
Malcolm III is described as regarding his wife with “holy reverence”.
Is this another example of our two nations being better together?
Monique S. Sanders. Giffordtown, Ladybank.
SNP will back Conservatives
Sir, – May I take this opportunity to congratulate the Scottish nationalists for humiliating an associate left-wing political party within Scotland in order to ensure, once again, that a Conservative government is at the helm of power within the United Kingdom with a clear majority.
My surprise was that our First Minister never anticipated that threatening the English voters with holding the balance of power would turn them against Labour in such large numbers.
The SNP are indeed the third party at Westminster and I have no doubt will be held in the same high esteem as were the Liberals in a similar position.
As they did in the 1970s, the Conservatives will be able to count on SNP votes to keep a stable government at Westminster.
Alan Bell. Roods, Kirriemuir.
A puzzling voting pattern
Sir, -The general election result is one you would have expected if there had been a yes vote in last year’s Scottish referendum.
But no was the outcome of the vote last September.
Given the high turnout last week, I would like to ask what those who voted no in the referendum but SNP in the election are hoping to achieve?
The number of English parliamentary seats that Labour would have needed to win to form a government, to allow the SNP strategy of influence to work, was never going to happen so your contradictory voting pattern puzzles me.
Colin Stewart. 20 Hill Park Drive, Birkhill.
Are we all subsidy junkies?
Sir, – With Nicola Sturgeon now being “threatened’’ with full fiscal autonomy (FFA) for Scotland, perhaps we should look at what this could be telling us about the UK today.
By unionist calculations, FFA for Scotland will involve a massive black hole in Scotland’s budget that would require the Scottish Government to impose even bigger cuts than presently threatened by Westminster.
Better for Scotland to stick with being “subsidised’’ by Westminster through the Barnett Formula?
The UK is made up of the following geographic areas: the nations of Scotland, England and Wales plus Northern Ireland.
England has eight recognised regions, most bigger in population than Scotland.
We hear a lot about government expenditure in Scotland and argue a lot about government revenue from Scotland.
We hear nothing about how Wales, Northern Ireland and the various regions in England would individually perform economically in this respect.
I have no way of actually knowing for sure since the figures are not published but I strongly suspect that, if such a budgeting exercise similar to that being applied by the unionists to Scotland was to be carried out for all the geographic areas mentioned, you would find out that
Wales, Northern Ireland and seven of the eight English regions would also appear to have massive black holes in their theoretical budgets.
I suspect that only London and the south-east of England would be shown to be paying its way.
Could it really be the case that three-quarters of the UK are subsidy junkies?
Nick Dekker. 1 Nairn Way, Cumbernauld.
Time to embrace electoral reform
Sir, – Regarding the new House of Commons, it took 4,000,000 votes to elect one UKIP MP.
On the other hand, 1,500,000 votes secured 56 MPs for the SNP.
And we call ourselves a democracy?
Surely it is time for a change in our electoral system.
Mona Clark. 9 Millbay Terrace, Dundee.
Ukip were areal let down
Sir, – I have always believed in Ukip and felt that they were offering voters something very different.
However, I found myself voting Conservative as I have been exceptionally disappointed with Ukip’s lack of commitment to Scotland.
At the beginning of the election campaign Nigel Farage was exceptionally patronising and offensive by complaining about the money going over Hadrian’s Wall.
I was deeply concerned about his proposals to scrap the highly successful Barnett Formula, a proposal that would lead to economic chaos in Scotland if implemented.
And in a hustings debate in Gordon, Ukip were invited but the representative never turned up.
This is disgraceful. In my area there was a candidate but I never saw him during the campaign.
Ukip can still turn this around before the Scottish elections next year but they need to be much more visible and get back to basics on issues like uncontrolled EU immigration.
They also need to stop alienating Scottish voters.
Gordon Kennedy. 117 Simpson Square, Perth.
Will of people is paramount
Sir, – I refer to RJ Soutar’s letter (May 12).
I am assuming he considers himself a democrat and is a unionist.
As a unionist he would be satisfied with the result of the referendum after David Cameron said Scotland should be a leader within a United Kingdom.
The recent election has shown that over 50% of the electorate who voted in Scotland had no desire to be represented within the union by unionist parties and wish to be lead by the SNP.
Is the writer seriously saying that after a democratic election that Scottish MPs should be barred from Westminster?
While respecting Mr Soutar’s beliefs on the political situation between Scotland and the rest of the UK, it is a bold statement to say we wish to stay united and we don’t want to leave the UK. “We” does not apply to me or to a large number of the people of Scotland.
A future referendum will only take place when circumstance changes, when the SNP put it into an electoral manifesto and the Scottish people vote for it.
Leslie Liney. 8 Knockard Crescent, Pitlochry.
Big hitters may bounce back
Sir, – As a Conservative voter, I am naturally very pleased with the overall majority the party achieved following last week’s election.
There is, however, a side issue of some concern here.
The SNP has just sent 56 MPs to the House of Commons. Many of them may represent the cream of the party.
With little, if any, influence in the corridors of power in Westminster, there those 56 MPs will sit, collecting their salaries and expenses.
None will be available to contest next year’s Holyrood election.
This will leave only the second stream of talent available to stand.
But, ultimately, this may result in a greater choice of candidates for the Scottish electorate.
Labour can set about sorting itself out just as Neil Kinnock did during the Thatcher years.
Similarly the Liberals can undergo a rebirth.
Indeed, these two parties may resurrect some of their deposed MPs, many recognised as capable people, for the Scottish elections in 2016.
Things may be about to become interesting.
A T Geddie. 68 Carleton Avenue, Glenrothes.