ON Thursday morning, Michael Gove appeared before the European Committee for the Scottish Parliament, the full title being Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs. Stuart McMillan asked the British minister about Erasmus, a fantastic student programme that allows students from Scotland to study in other European countries and vice versa. Through working in tourism, I have met hundreds of Erasmus students coming to Scotland; at first-hand saw how much they enjoyed the experience. Quite a few I met years later, when they returned on holiday with friends or families – a hidden benefit.

A friend’s two daughters studied in Munich and Vienna through Erasmus and have met lifelong friends in these places. Gove dismissed McMillan’s question by saying how much Scotland benefits as being part of the UK. He ignored McMillan telling him how great Erasmus was in his own education.

Then again I find Gove’s public persona one of high ignorance and insularity. I watched the full interview on playback from Scottish Parliament TV. In answering questions, he was like a teacher to pupils. I would like to think he is a decent person but holds different views from most who questioned him. They all acted with extreme politeness, despite Gove using first names only in talking to them. This a protocol not allowed within the Scottish Parliament or Westminster.

So here we have a great education scheme that Scotland will be thrown out of because of Brexit. A scheme that is of economic, social and educational benefit to Scotland.

I was curious as to how our mainstream TV news would cover this potential loss to Scottish education and society. I still am. Both main channels featured lengthy features on litter. It was not a huge news day, relatively. But there was silence on losing Erasmus.

Of course, tabloid TV were happy to report on great weather – Prestwick over 30.2C. People have recorded temperatures there for a good half century. There was never anything over 28C.

So good news mainstream media ignore climate change and forget about oor weans’ educational potential. A wee foretaste of Brexit.

No need to wash your hands after eating chicken next year – chlorine does it in advance.

Bryan Clark


I DISAGREE almost entirely with Pete Wishart concerning Plan B (Wishart warns Plan B could result in ‘hellish limbo’, June 22.)

We already are in a hellish limbo. We are about to be dragged out of the EU against the expressed will of the Scottish people, by a Tory Prime Minister that Scotland absolutely rejected. He has already made it clear that there will not be another indy referendum allowed during his period of office. That period could well be 10 years. It will certainly be five years, but I would not be in the least surprised if the English electorate put him back in for another term. That is likely to destroy Scotland’s economy, not just damage it. And seemingly we are to do nothing about it.

Also made resoundingly clear over the past few Westminster elections is that it doesn’t matter who Scotland votes for, we always get whoever England votes for and then just have to do as we are told. What is even worse is that the only way we can change that is through independence, but no matter what steps we take to achieve it, London is prepared to block it.

This is not new! The Treaty of Union was signed by the Scottish Nobility in order to get back the losses they sustained during the Darien Scheme. The people of Scotland did not want it and rioted against it. Ever since then, numerous efforts have been made to get us back out of it. Every effort, except the last referendum, has been blocked by Westminster.

There is no possibility whatsoever of us getting independence, in the foreseeable future, with the consent of London. Therefore, we need to take it without England’s permission.

I do not believe that this puts us anywhere near the same state as Catalonia. Scotland was an independent nation that entered voluntarily into a treaty with another nation. Catalonia wasn’t. I’m not terribly well up on Spanish history but I believe that after the Spanish Civil War the various segregated parts of Spain – the separate territories, if you like – amalgamated into the one nation. That’s not the same as two independent countries signing a joint treaty.

It is quite obvious from recent elections that the SNP has numerous firm mandates to hold another referendum on independence. In the last election they won a much bigger percentage of the seats in Scotland than the Tories did across the UK and with a greater share of the vote.

But Boris maintains that he has a mandate for Brexit but the SNP does not have one for an indyref. Brexit is going ahead with a percentage share of only about 34% of the electorate, and on an “advisory” referendum only. But we are not allowed another referendum even though independence-supporting parties at Holyrood hold a majority share of the seats and the vote. This is not democracy we are being subjected to. It is an elected dictatorship!

Where I agree with Wishart is that we really need to sort out what Plan B actually is and how we are going to go about it.

First, it has to be the intention to actually grasp independence and not just ask for it. Put it in the election manifesto and, when the election is won, tell Westminster that the people have chosen independence through the election. Invite them to start negotiations, and if they refuse then make a declaration of independence unilaterally.

Second, but actually first, start now to prepare the various departments of government that an independent Scotland will need. Draw up a plan of how they will work and who should be in charge of them. That includes the Scottish National Bank, which can be derived from the National Investment Bank.

Third, start having talks with our northern neighbours (Iceland, Norway, Finland etc), with a view to seeking their approval of an independent Scotland. Start making representations to the United Nations and to the EU, stating our intention to become an independent nation, by unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) if necessary, and seek their approval now. UDI has already been declared legal by the International Court of Justice, so there should be no legal problem surrounding it.

We seriously need to seek international approval right away, because there is no way England is going to allow us to become independent, even though it has no legal right to prevent it happening. It may well be that we need to seek a ruling from the International Court and from the United Nations but at the end of the day we have every right to be independent if we want to be.

Finally, draw up a constitution now; but put it before the people for approval after the election, as any constitution can only be formalised by the government after independence is gained.

Yes, I know, it sounds straightforward but isn’t likely to be. However, the alternative is just to shrug our shoulders and get on with being dominated by London for the next 300 years – just as they have dominated us for the last 300 years.

Charlie Kerr


A REFERENDUM with the result honoured by both parties is in fact the sensible way forward and opens the door to our immediately recognised international status. Our intention to achieve the process that will carry us there has not been exhausted. In fact it has hardly even started yet, and those who have weakly conceded to the bluffing and bullying from the Westminster establishment do us no favours.

Can we have some clarity, please? There have not been repeated calls for a Section 30 order and there have not been repeated refusals. Those who continue repeating these inaccuracies in the press are doing our Unionist opponents a favour.

There have been two approaches to the Tory Government in London on the issue. Theresa May didn’t say no. She said that “now is not the time” because she was aware that refusal in the face of a vote for it in the Scottish Parliament and the content of the UN Charter and the Scottish Claim of Right is not democratically acceptable or legitimately sustainable.

Boris Johnson, who operates in some fanciful irrelevancy much of the time, said no while providing no coherent explanation why he thought he should do so. The last time he did something constitutionally unsustainable the Supreme Court immediately kicked his bahookie and he had to re-open parliament tout de suite .

These “refusals” have not been tested yet. That is the fact. At the point at which the Scottish Government informs the UK Government of its certain intention that at a specific point it will hold a referendum (and Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly said “we will have a referendum”), agreement will be sought that the UK Government will be bound by the result. Having already conceded to such a process in 2014, I have no idea what acceptable or compelling reason they could find in face of the whole world to justify opposing this. And I can see no law that they could run to.

David McEwan Hill

Sandbank, Argyll

THE Sunday National had a brisk piece by Mike Russell MSP proposing that the Scottish Greens were less than realistic when it came to the process of framing legislation in the Scottish Parliament. He seemed satisfied that his own mature and practical approach was much more effective than the idealistic suggestions of the Greens. This was once the approach of Dundas and a thousand political trimmers since. I never forget the argument between two such protagonists, which was “let’s look at the practicalities” and the riposte “no, let’s remember the principles”.

In The National on June 25, the cavalry in the shape of the formidable Lesley Riddoch came to the rescue of the camp of those idealistic radicals that aspire to make Scotland a different and better place. In her piece on the Land Reform Act 2016, she concludes that many levers of that act seem to be unused and unusable as the legislators failed to enact bold moves to create equity in the distribution of land. This is an argument for more robust and aggressive laws in the Scottish Parliament.

Iain WD Forde


I READ Stuart Cosgrove’s piece in the Sunday National (Defund the police movement poses hard questions about enforcing law and order, June 21) and am in agreement with much of what he says, but was very surprised that he did not mention the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). It was, if anything, more surprising that Humza Yousaf didn’t either!

The VRU was set up in 2005 by Karyn McCluskey and John Carnochan when knife crime in Glasgow was rife and the city was known as Europe’s murder capital. It was to take a fresh approach to tackling the problem. This was driven by the conviction that violence was not just a policing issue, but a public health issue and other agencies, the NHS, education and social work, were involved in order to build on and develop a new strategy, which was largely successful in reducing, in particular, the incidence of knife crime.

More information can be found at www.svru.co.uk.

A similar strategy, based on the work done by the the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, was adopted in London relatively recently, and the unit has worked co-operatively with organisations across the world.

It appears that Scotland is ahead of the curve, not trailing behind it.

Margaret Brogan

West Kilbride