BEING an occasional reader of The National, I read your leaders, columns and correspondence in depth.

I have been on the verge of writing to you a number of times, thinking that surely someone would cover my thoughts in their own way; they may have, but I have not seen anything yet.

Today’s feature on the 10 quotes from Mrs May’s speech has led me to give you the following thoughts. Robert Burns said “Would some power the giftie gie us to see oorsel’s as ithers see us” (forgive my Scots mis-spellings) and I found this some years ago in the American academic Arthur Herman’s book on The Scottish Enlightenment. I strongly commend it to anyone who has not read it.

One of the comments that got to me is Herman’s view on pages 109-111, that the leaders in the Enlightenment movement had taken to calling themselves “North Britons”. He then comments that no Englishman, presumably in the educated classes of the time, ever referred to themselves as “South Britons”. The reason that this got to me is that as a youngster in the 1950s I was brought up as a Briton who lived in the British Region of Scotland. I enjoyed the inter-regional competitions in those days, not thinking at all really about the politics of it all. Until I entered my career that is.

Working for an English holding company with many sub manufacturing units throughout Britain, I learned a great deal about perceived and held opinions about those of us who lived north of Hadrian’s wall. Suffice to say that over the next 50 years my views changed and while I have seen the benefits to England of having Scotland in Union, it is not and never has been a fair union.

The Conservative and Unionist Party are now running scared for many reasons (see your own correspondents’ and columnists’ opinions), not the least of which is where to park the used subs now at Rosyth and what to do about Faslane and the recent proposal by the MOD to close the public road on Loch Long when either of the new aircraft carriers are in dock for armament transfers from Glen Douglas. This, in a sense, says everything about what Scotland has that England/Westminster wants to keep, but they dare not say it in so many words.

Ian Gray

“SHOULD have thought of the UK all along”, is the Guardian opinion. “Someone please tell Jeremy Hunt Britain no longer rules the waves”, writes Simon Jenkins in the same paper. “PM’s sudden passion for her Precious Union is as palatable as a cup of wet sick”, adds John Crace. These three comments are an indictment of the current Tory-led Westminster-centric focus within the UK. They are even more damning as they come from a very section of the press which has been unfocused on Scots and Scotland.

John Crace raises issues with Theresa May’s handling of Brexit where there was no attempt to reach out to the devolved governments and, given the absence of an administration at Stormont, the narrow focus on the DUP and the bung thrown to it, which displayed the worst instincts at No 10.

It is revealing to note that for the first time in this Anglo-led Brexit mayhem, serious criticism has been levelled at the disdain the present but now faded and jaded PM showed to Holyrood, Cardiff and Northern Ireland.

As the nations of the present failing incorporating Union aka Greater England diverge, the sudden Union Jackery splurges and “we will make you love the UK for your own good” outbursts will hasten the dissolution of the UK. The dissolute and snarling Anglo-centric jack-boot approach to the Union is failing.

In Scotland, that approach is tacitly welcomed by the non-Tory branch parties as well which are anti-Tory down south but covert allies north of the Tweed to the extent that they have ossified and no longer see devolution as a route to more UK decentralisation in the spirit of Labour’s former first minister Donald Dewar.

Their SNP-bad mindset and branch-party paralysis has distracted them from meaningful, constructive and independent thinking at Holyrood. They have truly parked themselves in the siding and are no longer main line protagonists for the Scots! To label them anti-Scots would be too brutal as they have members and voters who are beginning to shift, but the public and official pronouncements of their respective leadership and prospective leaders are indistinguishable from the hard and brutish retro-Unionism of the Tories.

It is refreshing to note the three quotations from The Guardian above, and its prescient thoughts behind this Precious Union.

John Edgar

YESTERDAY I listened to Radio Scotland reporting on Theresa May’s speech about her precious Union alongside an item about the drug problem in Scotland.

It made me reflect on income inequality, one of the sociological factors which influence drug abuse, known about for many years but seldom mentioned in relation to policy on drugs.

Drug and alcohol abuse are among the many societal ills which increase as income inequality increases. Guess whose policies are guaranteed to increase that wealth gap?

The drug problem in England can partly be blamed on Mrs May’s tough policies, but in Scotland there’s a double whammy. We may not be technically a colony, but Scotland’s rich resources – not just oil – have consistently been used to enrich the southernmost part of the UK. Exploitative colonialism is associated with increased alcohol and drug use in the exploited country. Mrs May is correct to describe her Union as “precious” – in cash terms only!

She couldn’t deliver Brexit, neither can she or her successor increase fairness or reduce exploitation in Scotland. There are, however, parties nearer home (SNP and Green) which can do that job. Easing of drug and alcohol problems could be one of the many benefits flowing from Scottish independence.

Derek Ball