WITH the increasing amount being spent fighting the coronavirus, there is a rising concern as to how we are going to recover this additional amount being spent. Current theories include borrowing more, raising taxes and Austerity2. The OBR suggested that the cost of fighting this virus could be £286 billion for the tax year 2020-21. To put this amount into some form of perspective, the amount set aside by the Treasury to cover the damage caused by the banking crisis of 2008 was £500bn.

If Westminster cancelled the renewal of Trident, that could save around £205bn (CND estimate). Giving consideration to what is happening as a result of this virus, I think the threat of a nuclear war is receding quick quickly. Who would we nuke?

If Westminster cancelled the new runway at Heathrow, that could save a further £18.6bn (Airports Commission). Again, giving consideration to what is happening as a result of this virus, will there be enough airline companies in existence to fill the current capacity of Heathrow?

If Westminster cancelled HS2, that could save a further £16bn. Would there be a need for it? More people will be working from home.

I am sure that, if the people in power put their heads together, and give serious thought as to how this virus is going to change our way of life, there will be other items that could save large sums of money.

George McKnight

West Calder

THE penny has not yet dropped with George Kerevan. The grotesque financial infrastructure which he describes in his piece in The National (Support it receives from right means there must be caution over a UBI, May 18) has had it. We are all going to have to change our ways. As our world becomes simpler, Universal Basic Income must provide the roof on each family’s home, the food on the plate and the fire in the hearth.

If the family has too much income on top, they are taxed on it in the way that used to happen with Children’s Allowance. If the fear of illness is reduced by the NHS, the fear of poverty will be ameliorated by UBI. The poor are not a separate race or creed and should be expunged by giving them what we all need: a sufficiency. Money, like water, may trickle down but it is more reliably sourced from wells and springs, that is to say from below.

The idea that people will cease working is also mistaken. Are music, art, gardening, writing, poetry, sculpture, boat-building, sending letters even, useless activities? Is competitive sport, swimming, caring for animals, entertaining friends and relatives valueless?

UBI is a civilising tool to be employed along with all the other techniques available to us, as I am sure George Kerevan, in his calmer moments, would agree.

Iain WD Forde


I HAVE been excited at the series in your paper printing excerpts from Scottish literature and, having never been a regular consumer of newspapers, have made it part of my routine to pick up the Sunday National. Something to look forward to, and having grown up amid anti-Scottish sentiments in my own country, thrilled to continue my exploration of my history and culture as an adult with this supplement.

I was dismayed to find you had chosen George Orwell’s 1984 this weekend. “Don’t quibble” as a meek excuse for lazy research and journalism. Regardless of the obvious literary merit, the tenuous link of having written it on a Scottish island is frankly pathetic. Are there no more Scottish novels? No great writers you could introduce your readers to?

Ignoring Orwell’s own contempt for nationalism and patronising thoughts on “Celtic” nationalism, it continues an idea that Scotland is a place for folk to come and get away from it all. A backdrop to outside genius. Instead of celebrating our own.

Cee Smith

Via email

RORY Bulloch’s excellent letter makes a plea for the use of accurate Scottish history at the NTS sites. He rightly refers to the suppressing of the real history of our country – the standard practice of the Establishment.

Rob Gibson, in his booklet The Highland Clearances Trail, recounts an incident in 1981 when Highland Heritage offered their Clearance Trail Guide to the Scottish Tourist Board, only to have it rejected on the grounds that “although the leaflet is not of a political nature, it is clearly controversial and inappropriate for distribution for our information centres”. Try to find most clearance sites – including huge ones such as Bourblaig in Ardnamurchan, a site of almost 14 acres – and you’ll have a problem, as there is a distinct lack of signposting. Many are not even on OS maps.

Neil Shaw


I WAS puzzled by the letter from John Jones lecturing Pete Wishart MP on Scottish politics (The National, May 16). To help Mr Jones with his confusion, the Scottish Parliament is made up of 73 constituency MSPs and 56 list MSPs. The voting system was set up by the Labour and Liberal parties specifically to stop the SNP ever having a majority; this is fact, not supposition.

There are 129 MSPs so the SNP would require 65 seats for a majority, which happened in 2011 but not in 2016, a salutary lesson for the SNP. His comment that the Yes campaign has been the backbone of the SNP lacks credibility – Yes emerged to back the SNP. His vow not to vote SNP unless we abide by his judgment is a gift to Unionism.

His comment about wanting people to publish their names is a bit dubious. He writes as John Jones, via email! I also reside there but have never seen him in the street.

Jim Lynch