IN his article on “How to win Conservatives to independence” in Tuesday’s National, Michael Fry comes to the conclusion that the best way to do that is to stop government meddling in business. I assume he has a naive faith in the business community to carry out their works for the benefit of society and not just for personal wealth. Personally, I don’t think that is a price worth paying for converting that sector of the community. Governance of a country should be for all of the populace, not just a favoured few.

He also says that Nicola Sturgeon and the leading cadres of the SNP base their economics on the “Old Labour postures of the 1970s”. Well, I’m not sure I agree with him there, because the Sustainable Growth Report is as perfect a representation of 21st-century economics as you’re likely to find, alas.

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Regarding the 1970s to which Mr Fry refers, I was a young man at that time and recall that life was pretty good. There was plenty of work to be had and at reasonable wages, social housing ensured a roof over the heads of a great many families and the cost of a house was about four times the average yearly wage. We were at the end of a period of Keynsian economics and the gap in wealth between the top and bottom earners was the smallest it had been for decades. The UK balance of payments was stable, with imports balancing exports more or less exactly, as it had been since the late 1940s.

Then in the late 1970s, the governments of both Tory and Labour persuasion adopted the neo-liberal economic model so beloved of Mr Fry. They under-invested in industry and over-invested in the unproductive service industries and the whole economy crashed into deficit. Much work now is so poorly paid that even with two parents working, they struggle to support a family. Social housing has been decimated by the Right to Buy scheme and a house now costs ten times the average yearly wage. The gap between the haves and have-nots widens each year and the UK economy is in deficit every year.

We have had ten years of austerity during which time the national debt has doubled and the interest on this is now an eye-watering £100,000 per minute. Finally, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we have food banks and massive child poverty. This must be the most damning fact of all, that we can’t protect the neediest in society but we can double the wealth of the mega-rich.

With an independent Scotland adopting a constitutional currency and the private banking industry reined in, we can have an egalitarian society where the values are not dictated by mere profit, but by the well-being of the whole of society.

Tony Perridge

I CAN appreciate how everyone has been a bit down. Our bid for independence is not happening as quick as we wished. The messages and news we read are always the same. The National’s readers (me included), commentators and columnists repeat themselves with their ideas over and over again, and then there is the incessant .monotonous soundbites of the opposition and “we’re doomed” commentators such as Jim Sillars. All add to our depression.

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To try to counteract this, Tuesday’s National headline was “52% surge for independence”. How is that massive? Tell us when it’s 60% . Clearly the editor is also struggling to find something to recharge our batteries and lift our spirits.

We’re told that despite progress being slow we must stick together and most importantly not stop. I get that, but something is missing.

We don’t have to go back too far to find a great inspirational figure of our own that our pro-independence politicians should take courage from and try to emulate: Jimmy Reid. He of course was the spokesman for the world renowned and successful Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ “work-in” back in the 1970s, which forced Prime Minister Ted Heath “to think again” and invest in the Clyde shipyards.

Politically his allegiances adjusted through his life but were clearly from a socialist perspective. Communism, socialist, Labour and finally SNP (NB Scottish Labour!) He utilised his talents well: shop steward, union activist, leader, spokesman, author, journalist, TV personality, orator, rector of Glasgow University.

The rat race speech he made at Glasgow University that was magnificent and gained world recognition. I read it again recently and it’s so pertinent to todays struggle. So in turn I appeal to the National’s editor to ask Glasgow University’s archives for permission to print it.

But most of all it’s some definitive action we need . Jimmy Reid wasn’t just a wordsmith. He didn’t strike or sit in ... he had a “work in” and completed the ships contracts!! Action, that’s what we are desperate for.

Finally, to quote Confucius: “When it is obvious the goals cannot be reached, adjust the action steps!” Somebody, somewhere please come up with a strategy! We need an injection of something new!

Robin MacLean
Fort Augustus