THE Nation of Scotland has, as everyone knows, a devolved Parliament. And ever since the notorious betrayal that became the Act of Union, Scotland has retained its own legal system and its own laws. We have, under devolution, a wide range of powers, which have been used over the years to provide benefit to the people of Scotland that often does not exist in England, or which has subsequently been adopted – some might say “pinched” – by the Westminster Government because they were evidently good ideas.

We had free bus travel throughout Scotland long before England introduced free bus travel regionally. We have free prescriptions – compared to £8.80 per item in England. We do not charge our student residents tuition fees – an astronomical burden in England. There are so many good things that have been achieved – and lest anyone should think of this as just another SNP rant, let me give credit to the Scottish governments prior to the rise of the SNP for their part in making a start on getting things right. And credit to all – well, almost all – of the parties in Scotland, who have an understanding of the nation’s desire to be a fair nation, a proud and prosperous nation and a welcoming nation.

But when push comes to shove, it is what we do not have that matters. We do not have the choice, as expressed by the majority in Scotland, to stay in the EU; we do not even have the courtesy of being allowed to debate the Withdrawal Bill in Westminster; we do not have the power to remove nuclear weapons from our shores; we do not have the power to choose who shall be our friends and allies; we do not have control over our financial institutions. We do not have the choice of whether or not we go to war.

We remain beholden to Westminster for a very large proportion of our funding, through the Barnett formula – funding which has been considerably dented in recent years. Far too often, the views of the Scottish Government are disrespected, rubbished and ignored. In the words of the Advocate General for Scotland, Lord Richard Sanderson Keen, Baron Keen of Elie, and former Conservative Party chairman: “The UK Parliament is sovereign, the Scottish Parliament is not.” So there we have it – devolution is not the panacea that some would claim of it. It is not, and never can be, anything more than small change in the grand scheme of things. Devolution is no more than smoke and mirrors – it is an illusion which can only be overcome by independence.
David J Fallows

WHILST I suspect that the odious Boris is not as daft as he appears and his remarks regarding Muslim women are probably directed at gleaning extreme right-wing support, I think Selma Rahman is missing the point (Letters, August 10).

Scotland is a secular society where people rely on more than just words for communication: body language and facial expression are part of the daily interchange, lip reading is impossible without sight of the face.

It is unreasonable to expect a society where the openness of a glance speaks volumes to accept people who conceal their features, for whatever reason, without question. Concealing body language compounds the difficulty.

My two hearing aids do not only amplify the voice of the person with whom I am trying to converse, they amplify all the interfering surrounding sounds too. I rely heavily upon reading people’s faces in order to follow conversation.

Ms Rahman is at liberty to pursue whatever practices she likes within her own premises or in the company of like-minded people. She should accept the uneasiness which the same behaviour engenders in the public street because she simply cannot expect others to rely upon her statement that she intends them no harm, largely because they cannot see her face or interpret her body language and cannot, therefore, confirm her sincerity using the social tools which we have developed over thousands of years.

There are few things more disconcerting than being approached by a motorcyclist wearing a full face helmet with the visor down, especially if the visor is reflective, and asked a question. Ms Rahman should try that and see how it makes her feel.
Les Hunter

READING the article on the Tory councillor that has decided that Scotland will be a better place when it becomes independent is great news (Councillor told to quit for indy U-turn, August 10), and it also highlights why we need to stop the “Tory Tory Tory – out out out” chanting that goes on at the AUOB marches (as well as the banners of a similar nature).

It was the only negative aspect of the marches that I noticed. A good democracy needs viewpoints from all sides. The more supporters from all sides the faster we get our democracy and country back.
Kenneth Sutherland

AS we appear to be very quickly heading towards a no-deal Brexit, and as we only produce around 20% of the fruit and veg that we consume, should the planners not be concentrating on using the many brownfield sites available rather than using more and more precious greenfield site areas?
George McKnight
West Calder

LOOKING at the ongoing debate between David Crines and Jim Fairlie, it seems that Mr Crines makes his points politely and with a semblance of self-deprecating humour. On the other hand, Mr Fairlie is supercilious, patronising and insulting. I leave it to the readers to decide which is the more effective approach.
Douglas Turner

I’LL make this pithy but brief
In reply to Jim Fairlie from Crieff.
He wants Scotia alone but proud
I say stick in with the euro crowd
I’m done – Oh, what a relief!
David Crines