MICHAEL Fry’s piece on Tuesday was, as usual, thought-provoking. I enjoyed his analysis of the Conservative party in Scotland and particularly its (non-existent) interest in policy.

However, later on in the article I fear his distaste for all things “left-wing” rather got the better of him. He says, for instance, that “for every Clydebank or Kilmarnock, there is a Kelso or a Cromarty”, but the fact is that if it’s votes which win elections, there are 72,990 people in the former two towns and 6,358 in the latter. That, though, would be a brutal, “winner-takes-all” view of politics that I don’t share, even if it is reality.

Having grown up in Clydebank and remembering the days not just of Singer and John Browns, but D&J Tullis, Babcock and Wilcox, Dawson and Downie and many others, I know only too well how much my hometown has changed and not entirely for the better. I know too of how little help it had in its struggles in the 1970s and 1980s.

For instance, in 1969 Singer employed approximately 12,500, but aid (an SDA task force) was only put into the town when Singer finally closed in 1980, employing no more than a couple of thousand by then. Ten thousand jobs lost in just over 10 years!

My point? Many of our communities have been, and remain, in difficulty and must be positively, constructively and imaginatively assisted by central government in ways that the present gang at Westminster are simply unwilling to do, or worse, are unaware of or have no interest in. It is no accident that Clydebank supported (and supports) Yes more strongly than most communities in Scotland.

Does this mean that because Clydebank and Kilmarnock (and apologies to everyone in Kilmarnock – I don’t mean to belittle your difficulties but I am much more familiar with those in Clydebank) are in difficulty, that we just ignore Kelso and Cromarty (and other rural areas in our country)? No, certainly not. The dominance of the south-east of the UK has been a chronic problem for economic policy, bequeathing us an unbalanced and dysfunctional economic structure. Scotland must treat this as a warning and most certainly not a model to be copied.

Moreover, the manner in which large swathes of England were asset-stripped and left to rot – remember a Wellington-booted Thatcher striding across a brown-field site in the north of England – should likewise act as a warning. It seems to me crucial that after independence Scotland must progress and develop on a broad front, not with one area leading the way as has happened in the UK. Policy must be based firmly on the aim of prosperity for all, and not just for some.

Educational policy is based on the phrase “getting it right first time for every child”, and just as our children deserve this, so do our communities – “getting it right for every community”. If we don’t, we have failed.

Alasdair Galloway

I HAVE often found Michael Fry’s writing on history to be very interesting but I am less impressed with his economics, although I do agree with his view that productivity is vital for an independent Scotland.

His article in Tuesday’s National I found really set Michael in his proper old-fashioned Tory setting.

Perhaps Michael should leave the political idea of “left” and “right”-wing political categories back there they belong in the French Revolution.

The problems we face today are (a) the collapse of neo-liberalism and its worldwide financial structure, and (b) climate change of major proportions.

The new independent Scotland will be hit by both of these, and both will hit our economy like a major tsunami. It will not matter whether you are defined by Michael as left-wing or right-wing – both of these will hit you just as hard.

The reality facing us, and the SNP government in Scotland, is that we will need to take urgent steps to protect our economy from both of these imminent threats, and that will involve considerable public investment and our own currency. This major investment will, as Michael will appreciate, assist greatly in advancing our level of productivity, and it will give us a fighting chance against these two major threats. So perhaps, Michael, it is time to put these old ideas of right-wing good, left-wing bad behind us and see if we Scots, working together, can face up to these challenges and deliver a better future for our grandchildren rather that the nightmare they currently face.

Andy Anderson

I HAVE read Michael Fry’s columns with increasing amazement over the months but until he claimed “the SNP have lurched to the left” I took them seriously.

Sorry I’ve been so slow on the uptake, I can only blame advancing years, it is clear to me now that it is a spoof by somebody very clever who can get into the mindset of a swivel-eyed Tory. Well done.

Tony Williams