PROFESSOR John Curtice opined recently that: “nobody is doing more at the moment to try and stop Brexit than Nicola Sturgeon. She’s trying to stop the one thing that actually might be to her advantage.” Some in the nationalist movement feel as he does. But not me.

The EU’s crowning achievement is the single market. There are no borders when it comes to citizens looking to relocate for work, leisure travel or retirement, no borders to trade, finance or services. Four freedoms add up a lack of personal or business restriction that is immeasurably beneficial to all Europe. All that and a peace dividend too. Europe has been war-torn since time immemorial yet not a whisper of internal war has been heard in 50 years. The first half of the 20th century started with two small Balkan wars, which developed into two global conflicts that bankrupted the UK and completely ended an empire that was intact and, by and large, thriving at the beginning of the century.

This century too began with a vicious and genocidal Balkan conflict on the EU’s doorstep, but now one by one those those warring states are joining the peaceful fold of the EU – the trucks rumbling unhindered along Europe’s superb integrated road system attest to that.

It would be narrow nationalism indeed if Nicola Sturgeon promoted, as a europhile, EU status for Scotland while favouring Brexit for other nations on our island. Scotland and England and Wales all need the continued frictionless borders that the EU provides, and every single one of us needs the peace dividend too.

Scotland’s aspirations for self-determination must be strong enough and sufficiently altruistic to result in strenuous effort to influence and support our nearest neighbour in making the right choices about future relationships with the EU. While everything about Brexit remains currently at a zenith of chaos, the First Minister’s calm and consistent approach is in total contrast to the antics of the leaders of the two larger UK parties. May vacillated pathetically until achieving the doomed deal, and Corbyn ignores party policy to frequently bare his anti-EU soul.

From my viewpoint, it is strange that Professor Curtice, now a Sir, implies Sturgeon’s logical approach to Europe, consistent and unchanged throughout the years of Brexit, may somehow be the wrong strategy. He must know she would be subject to a wall of criticism if she failed to promote whole UK alignment to the EU. And that criticism would be right too. She would have adopted the narrow nationalism which she absolutely abhors.

There is tactical nous there too. As the main champion of the EU, there will be worldwide recognition if she is successful. If she fails in UK terms, at least she will be seen as having tried her utmost. If there is no nationalist surge for the Sturge under those circumstances, then perhaps we don’t deserve to participate as an independent nation in the overall success of the EU. I’ll proudly become one of Theresa May’s “citizens of nowhere” at that point.

Brexit UK will not be for me, I’m afraid. Keep it up, First Minister. Your strategy is wise and I’m pretty sure Professor Curtice really knows that too.

David Crines

LIKE many of us I was angered and disgusted by Richard Leonard’s spiteful attack on the SNP over the two child limit.

Despite the new social security powers granted by the 2016 Scotland Act, the Scottish Government has control over a relatively minuscule proportion of welfare benefits compared to Westminster. The two child limit is reserved, and the SNP government does not have the powers to scrap it, plain and simple; requesting that they do is just like asking them to ban zero-hours contracts or withdraw Scotland from Brexit.

Whilst it continues to face an uphill struggle, the SNP government has worked extremely hard to mitigate some of the most detrimental aspects of Tory welfare reform through initiatives such as the Scottish Welfare Fund and discretionary housing payments to vulnerable households affected by the infamous Bedroom Tax.

Among the new powers bestowed on Holyrood by the Scotland Act is the ability to create new benefits. I agree that the possibility of using said power to mitigate the two child limit should be considered, although I am mindful of the high proportion of revenue already used for mitigation of reserved policy.

What I take real issue with is Richard Leonard exploiting this highly sensitive issue to merely salvage some credibility for his struggling party by defaming the SNP.

If he really wanted to make a difference, he should join with Nicola Sturgeon to push the Tories to abolish the two child limit instead of twisting it for his own superficial ends.

Social security must be handled with the serious care it deserves, and not kicked around like a political football.

Andrew Scobie
Branch Convenor, Strathearn SNP