WITH research highlighting the fact that an estimated 600,000 potential voters in Scotland are not on the electoral register, concerns have naturally been raised that they are losing the right to have their voice heard in crucial European Parliament elections on May 23. It is estimated that around 7.9 million people across the UK are not on the register.

Those most at risk of missing out are young people – who will arguably be affected most by the outcome of the election – and private renters. Ironically this group also includes EU citizens, who will be required to fill in an additional form should they want to vote. The deadline to register is midnight on Tuesday, May 7.

These elections have a big role to play in the future of our country. Voters in Scotland will elect six of the 736 members of the European Parliament who are responsible, along with the Council of Ministers from member states, for making laws and approving budgets.

More important, however, is that these elections will serve as a measure of public opinion on issues such as whether there should be another EU referendum or not.

European elections in the past have been blighted by low turnouts and apathy. However, this is not an election to stand aside from – it is one to make a mark for our country’s future and its relationship with the rest of the world, so make sure you are registered to vote.
Mark Lazarowicz
Chair, European Movement in Scotland

THE UK Government doesn’t do long-term economic plans for Scotland, but if they did, they should probably look like this.

Scotland needs a managed and protected economy, that serves a fair society. That’s probably the EU then. It’s unlikely that being the 51st state of the USA will deliver this.

Scotland needs most of its workforce to feel sufficiently secure in employment and its reimbursement, to allow a fair society to redevelop. That’s probably the national wage then. Its unlikely to be a drive to generate sufficiently poor people to compete with China and India.

Scotland needs to train its workforce beyond self-sufficiency and be the national staff agency of choice internationally. That’s probably better than an oil fund. It’s unlikely to be achieved with an insecure workforce managed by a narrow focus on not having the people of Scotland on the books.

Scotland needs its people to know that they are important, whatever colour, sex, race, creed or age. That’s probably where public services serve the people. It’s unlikely to be generated where driving the disabled into poverty is a desirable (albeit unwritten) key performance indicator.

Scotland needs its people to be working for now, with a secure future ahead. That’s probably where health and social care costs can normally be met by pensions, generated from people on the average wage. It’s unlikely to be in a society where an individual’s lifetime of labour is rewarded by a removal of dignity and capital long before death.

Scotland needs its people to use whatever currency(s) brings stability to Scotland. That’s probably to be determined by the people of Scotland’s parliament. It’s unlikely to be called the Groat, but might be the Scottish or English Pound, or the Euro, or even the Scottish Euro?

Does Scotland need YES2? Well, probably.
Stephen Tingle
Greater Glasgow

SEVERAL unionist correspondents in other publications have recently suggested the Groat as a proposed Scottish currency. They presumably know that it was a very small unit. It could reasonably be a name for a cent but not for a basic unit. Personally, on historic grounds, I would be happy to see Scotland adopt the Merk, divided into 100 cents or groats, but on grounds of convenience and familiarity I would expect us to start with a pound of 100 pence. If we converted to the Merk we could start with two to the pound to ease the conversion.
David Stevenson

THERE seems to be a furore – yet again – about a supposedly “impossible” question in this year’s Higher Maths paper. The last incident was in 2015 when crocodiles, frogs and toads were involved. (All of those questions in 2015 were similar to questions from previous exams, if students had cared to look through enough years of past papers.) This year’s supposedly “nightmare question” is an entirely normal question on optimisation. If candidates had prepared correctly, they would have seen questions with the exact same type of function to be optimised in past papers from: 2013 paper 2, question 7; 2016 paper 2, question 7; 2018 paper 2, question 9.

All these questions contained an 1/x term, exactly the same as the question this year.

The following fact is almost always overlooked. If an exam is going to differentiate between the most able and the least able, or “the workers” from “the shirkers”, some questions have to appear to be almost impossible to the average student. Otherwise everyone would score 100%. And if that were to be the case, what would be the point of having an exam in the first place?

Perhaps those students claiming the question was a nightmare should have spent a little bit more time on their revision. To mix culinary metaphors, I suggest that this year’s headlines are a storm in a teacup.
David Patrick

I REALLY enjoy reading my National each day because I find so many thoughtful and interesting contributions in it, and Thursday’s paper was excellent in that respect.

The article by Dr Robbie Mochrie hits the nail on the head when he asks us to stop and consider “whose economy is it?” and “What is the economy for?” – vital questions if we are really committed to a climate emergency. David McEwan Hill expresses concern about us being bogged down in “currency” debates while our Unionist opponents spin misinformation in another Project Fear and point to our “disunity” on this issue. Tony Perridge gives us a clear historical example of how an effective monetary and investment policy can be, and has been, achieved in Scotland before.

Currency, Andrew Wilson tells us, is a highly technical issue in economics that very few are expert on or truly understand. So that rather suggests that we should not debate this issue, we should leave it to the “experts”. The problem with Andrew’s analysis of the economic situation is that it is limited to a narrow neo-liberal view of the economy which falls apart the minute it is exposed to a wider vision. That is no doubt why he and others are quite incapable of explaining or defending it.

This debate is required and is entirely possible and understandable to most people, we do not need to leave it to experts, and furthermore if we are going to re-examine the fundamental issues of our economy this debate is now vital.

If we don’t want to talk about it, and Andrew clearly doesn’t, then it will be left an open question right up until just before the voting takes place and our Unionist opponents and their powerful media will raise it in order to expose our weakness, so that is not a sensible way to behave.

The good news is that if we abandon the narrow neo-liberal vision that dictates to us that currency must be under the control of international banks, and that governments must borrow money in order to have public investment, and that our currency must be available for “money markets” and speculators to abuse; then the picture of having a full-reserve, domestic, fiat currency for Scotland’s domestic market within three years of independence is not difficult or complicated.

I think most Yes activists would rather go round the doors at the next referendum with a clear response to anyone who asks what the Scottish currency would be and how it will work for the economy, rather than some plan that we will have a Scottish currency at some time, but only after we have done six complicated “tests” that can’t be explained to them because those who designed them think they would not understand.

I would not want to go round doorsteps with that message, nor I think, would most activists. So let’s debate these issues now, long before the voting, and get these issues clear.
Andy Anderson

I DESPAIR of the gerrymandering and distortions which are now routine in Westminster. I refer to the speech made by Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Climate Change, on May 1, in which he said: “My hon friend Trudy Harrison reminded us that nuclear has played and will play a distinguished role in ensuring that we can generate power free from emissions.”

Would that it were true. There is currently no safe way of disposing of nuclear waste and the long-standing commitment to build a deep-level store for high-level waste is as far from reality as ever. The government has failed to see a single megawatt of nuclear power built; and thank goodness for that, given the long-term and costly legacy that nuclear power leaves behind.

Unless words are turned into action, the UK Government will fail to meet its commitments to reduce carbon emissions in the years beyond 2023 by 7% or more, and that in spite of the excellent contribution made by the devolved government in Scotland, now setting its target for a net-zero carbon budget five years sooner than in the rest of the UK.

The Scottish Government was the first government in the world to declare a climate change emergency, a fact that has been ignored by the UK press, passing any credit for this action to Westminster. Even the more progressive websites fail to recognise the differences between a country and a nation. It may seem a trivial issue, but it indicates just how little respect in which our own government is held by the UK establishment.
Pete Rowberry

THE trouble with another independence referendum is that the other parties seem to have a constantly revolving leadership problem. Hence Nick Clegg, David Cameron and Ed Miliband (anyone remember them?) were all too ready to give Scottish voters a cast-iron guarantee that Scottish people would stay in the EU if we voted against independence.

It seems to be that since the Three Stooges are no longer party leaders their promise amounts to nothing, as their respective parties have no intention of honouring their election pledge.

Moreover, any guarantee the present Westminster party leaders – Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Vince Cable (more than one of whom is on the Red List of Endangered Species, judging from the support from MPs in their own party) – give regarding Scotland’s future is unlikely to be taken seriously.
Stephen McCarthy