BARONESS Nicholson of Winterbourne has recently been quoted as claiming that London “pays Scotland’s bills” (The Jouker, October 11). However, the noble lady allows her blinkered support for the discredited union and for “English Nationalism” to blind her to the facts of the economic relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK. For example, taxpayers in Scotland are contributing to the cost of the London Crossrail project that will bring no benefits for Scotland; Scottish taxpayers are paying their proportionate share of the cost of HS2, which will have minimal benefits for Scotland; and Scots who pay taxes to the London Treasury will be helping to pay for the huge cost of renovating and upgrading the Palace of Westminster. These are just a few examples of the way that – far from Scotland being subsidised by the rest of the UK – Scots are subsidising the rest of the UK.

Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun newspaper, once said famously (infamously?) that he was all for Scotland becoming independent, because he couldn’t wait to get Scotland “off his payroll”. Aren’t people like Kelvin MacKenzie and Emma Nicholson in for a shock when Scotland is independent and they realise that for all these years they’ve been on our payroll?
Peter Swain

THURSDAY’S issue contains a piece on comments about Scotland’s finances by Baroness Nicholson, which has prompted a necessary response and a quick look at her credentials.

The Baroness was born in Oxford, daughter of Sir Godfrey Nicholson, Bt and granddaughter of the Earl of Crawford. She has no record of either contesting or representing a Scottish constituency, has been both a Conservative and a LibDem MP for South Devon and MEP for South East England, and was elevated to the House of Lords in 1997 as Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne. Her education was entirely in England and her family income was derived from an owned company of London gin distillers. Her current political brief concerns trading arrangements with Iraq.

No criticism whatsoever is offered regarding her ability or qualification for her present position, but it is fair to believe that her Scottishness is at best tenuous. One would think that her claim to being half Scottish would, if important or praiseworthy, include some small indication of a service performed in that connection, rather than the crass accusation of Scotland’s “dependence” on Westminster for financial survival, a view which is known to be held by many of her stipend-sharing ermined colleagues. Half Scottish? One could be forgiven for guessing from which half her unsupported allegation emanated.
J Hamilton

I THINK the Jouker has missed one important aspect of the diatribe against “indépendance” by Baroness Nicholson of Winterborne (who is half Scottish). The Baroness knows that the British Empire became great by removing independence from large swathes of the world. When she talks not of independence but “indépendance” she is using her great learning (did I mention that she’s half Scots?) to slyly suggest that independence is not a great British concept but something thought up by those foreign French people.
Derek Ball

THERE may be questions to be asked concerning this woman’s claim to be half Scottish, however, there can be little doubt that she is half witted.

It is not the fact that education, status and remuneration are not incompatible with sheer stupidity and an inability to spell that annoys me, it is the assumption that we are stupid enough to accept such utter nonsense as truth.
Les Hunter

SOME say “London pays Scotland’s bills”. We know that Scotland has been paying other people’s bills and fighting other people’s wars for too long. Let us find out by restoring Scottish (and English) independence and each paying our own bills!
David Stevenson

SOMETHING very strange happened this week: the last human being on planet Earth realised that the Conservative Government’s welfare reforms will “make some people poorer” (Universal Credit set to make families poorer, October 12). Stranger still was the realisation that the person in question was no other than Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey!

How often have we heard the sickly phrase, even by those on the political left, that Universal Credit (UC) is “good in principle”? However, this very principled welfare policy has led the UN to describe it as “a human catastrophe” for disabled people.

Conservatives trot out the mantra that UC helps people get back into work. The problem is that this is the same motley crew that is responsible for the longest downturn in productivity and wages in a century, with wages predicted to be less in real terms in 2022 compared to 2008 (IFS, Nov 2017).

Introduced in 2013, UC was from the very start to be used as a covert vehicle to deliver the Tories’ austerity budget. It is the cutting edge weapon that helps the Conservatives to implement its 2015 General Election manifesto pledge to cut welfare spending by £12 billion through welfare reforms such as the four-year freeze to working age benefits until 2019, the two-child limit on UC and child tax credits and the loss of automatic entitlement to housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds. The Scottish Welfare Budget will be cut by £4bn over the period 2010-2020.

It is part of the wider ongoing dismantling the Welfare State with the aim of reducing spending to 36% of GDP from 50% at the turn of the century.

The corollary of this necessitates that those on benefits must be worse off in every sense of the word by the enactment of this iniquitous system. In financial terms it means that 3.2 million households will be £50/week worse off on average. It means that 4 million people in the UK are in fuel poverty (Energy World, Oct 2017), a tenfold increase in the number of food banks since 2010, year on year rises in relative poverty and a 70% increase in the number of children in temporary accommodation from 2010-2017.

Is this what is means to be Better Together? Is this what they call the “broad shoulders of the Union”? Who is going to shoulder the burden of Brexit? Ask Esther, maybe she will give us a clue ... or maybe not!
Gordon Murray

I WAS delighted to see that Historic Environment Scotland will unveil a plaque in honour of Frederick Douglass, the first black figure recognised by the Commemorative Plaque Scheme.

To coincide with Black History Month and the 200th anniversary of his birth, Douglass – an escaped slave, orator, writer and statesman whose ideas would be pivotal in the United States before, during and after the American Civil War – will be the first black person recognised by the commemoration scheme since its beginning in 2012.

The plaque will be unveiled at a ceremony in November at Gilmore Place in Edinburgh, the address at which Douglass once lived while acting as Scotland’s anti-slavery agent. He arrived in Scotland in 1846, eight years after escaping the brutal regime of his owner on a plantation in Maryland, and found a city where he felt “no distinction” to those of a “paler hue” and where “no one seemed alarmed to his presence”.

Douglass was sent to Great Britain on a speaking tour organised by the American Anti-Slavery Society to take advantage of strong anti-slavery sentiment at a time when the US lagged in efforts to wholly outlaw the trade. On his tour Douglass spoke in towns and cities such as Arbroath, Paisley, Kelso and Glasgow, and demand to see his speeches was so high that tickets had to be issued.

Douglass’s campaign was ramped up to a new level when he clashed with the Free Church of Scotland after it emerged Free Church representatives had travelled to the American South in 1845 on a fundraising mission supported by the American Presbyterian Church, which had major congregations in the slave-owning states.

It is highly fitting that the role of Frederick Douglass, who played such a major part in the abolitionist movement, should be marked in such an appropriate manner.
Alex Orr

SUZANNE Bosworth (Website comments, October 12) says: “Language is full of colour and movement and is a thing of beauty ... embrace it all I say.”

Susanne mentions the density of Will Self’s rhetoric but The National has a match for Will in Andrew Tickell. I was reading Andrew’s article in last Sunday National’s Seven Days when I had a double take and reached for the dictionary. “Scottish Labour is populated by the kind of people who would squabble about the composition of their spaceship’s Rules and Disputes Committee with the entrails of a fallen comrade dangling from a ventilation shaft and the ichory aftermath of an atomised scientific officer painting the shuttle bay scarlet.” Bravo Andrew – now to independence infinity and beyond!
Bob Harper

AS a member of the Scottish Green Party, it seems to me that the SNP need to come up (only) with the following:

a) A Scottish Currency (Groat?) pegged to the British Pound, or Euro, for a short period of time (see Ireland). Any borrowing required to be against oil and gas (which we can still keep in the ground), renewables and water.

b) A Scottish Constitution, preferably a few pages or shorter (see France or the USA).

c) Something on pensions – not that the Scottish pension will be as good as other small countries as a percentage of median male wage (which is a current SNP leaflet), but that existing UK state and personal money purchase schemes are already legally underwritten

d) That rEU and rWorld citizens will keep their rights (this is the only area the SNP have publicised progress on).

e) That Scotland will abide by EU and UN human rights and environmental responsibilities.

Everything else can be decided after independence.
Karen Allan

WHY can’t Ruth Davidson, and all the others who deny Scotland her desire for independence, not realise that just because it may not come about for a year or two, it does not mean that the subject will go away.

We, who believe in independence, will not stop working towards our goal. The passion of our beliefs has not gone away – if anything, in the time since 2014, it has only grown our support and arguments to be ready for the day. If you truly believe in something, you do not give up.
J McKenzie