LISTENING to BBC Scotland’s Kirsten Campbell summarising FMQs , it was evident that political impartiality and balance are not part of her brief.

While she reported that the First Minister was again questioned about WhatsApp messages requested by the UK Covid Inquiry, no mention was made of his damning references to that inquiry because of messages still not presented by the then prime minister Boris Johnson or because of the “brutal and useless” assessment of the Johnson government by his permanent secretary.

Again, important topics raised, such as the rise in food bank usage across the UK (the rise in Scotland not as steep presumably due to actions taken by the SNP Scottish Government), were not mentioned while again, a topic not raised at FMQs – in this instance, the Health Minister’s parliamentary iPad data-roaming charges while abroad – were highlighted for discussion by BBC Scotland’s selected review panel of political editors Katrine Bussey of PA Scotland and Michael Blackley of the Scottish Daily Mail.

To make matters even more misleading, the Reporting Scotland lunchtime news bulletin then incorrectly implied that the data-roaming charges were raised at FMQs and by the time of the evening news, these charges had become another SNP-critical story.

Given that the loss of tens of billions of pounds due to UK Government cronyism, corruption and fraud has largely been ignored by the BBC (with no follow-up stories on that other politically self-serving dame), it is clear that not only the opposition parties in Scotland but the UK’s establishment-controlled media realise that if they contrive to denigrate the SNP, they will reduce the prospects of an independent Scotland, at least for the immediate future.

Perhaps, when all who support independence also come to this same realisation. all strands of the Yes movement can be co-ordinated to grow support for self-determination to 60% plus.
Stan Grodynski

FRIDAY’S piece by Adam Robertson on a proposed undersea tunnel to link Unst and Yell in Shetland is timely. Here in Norway, we have more than 30 such undersea tunnels, and the longest one in the world – 27km – is now under construction to connect Randaberg, near Stavanger, and Bokn in Rogaland. The article points to the Faroes, which already has four such tunnels. But as far as I know, Scotland has only one – the Clyde Tunnel. Undersea tunnels cut driving times, reduce carbon emissions and avoid the vagaries of ferry services – about which Scots are only too familiar.
Mike Fergus

LISTENING to my radio on Wednesday morning, Laura Maxwell and Gary Robertson of BBC’s Good Morning Scotland covered an item on food banks. Two contributors were interviewed – the head of The Trussell Trust in Scotland, Polly Jones, and the head of Perth and Kinross Foodbank, Lori Hughes. The headline is a 9% increase in food bank usage over this last year in Scotland.

Hughes said that there was no one demographic going to food banks – it is unwaged and low-waged, more recently median-waged families needing assistance. Debt levels have increased, family silver and mementoes have been sold off long ago.

Jones was also critical of the very low level of social security payments in the UK, particularly the DWP’s Universal Credit, which was stated as being £35 per week less than is needed to provide the bare minimum needed to survive.

She praised the Scottish Government’s child support payment, but said it should increase to £40. She was a wee bit snippy about the council tax freeze.

Later in the broadcast, a recorded “snippet” on the subject was replayed.

It was so cut down that the praise of the Scottish Government’s child payment was omitted, leaving only the negative comment regarding the council tax freeze.

This is the message that was broadcast at each of the next news summaries.
This is the message that sticks.
Alistair Ballantyne

I NOTE with interest Campbell Anderson’s letter in Tuesday’s National. Campbell asks me some direct questions which I will address. I should say that I am not a lawyer, but I did study jurisprudence in my study of politics and philosophy and I am looking at this issue from that point of view.

Referring to Campbell’s point 1), he acknowledges that the Scottish people are sovereign as indeed does the UK Supreme Court, so we all agree on 1).

It is not possible to have two sovereigns in one state. If, therefore, the Scottish people are sovereign, there can be no other power with sovereign authority in Scotland.

2) Regarding his point about independence needing to be clearly demonstrated as the will of the people before it would be recognised nationally – the United Nations Charter since June 1945 provides an international right for states to allow for people to have the political and economic form of government the people desire.

In most cases, the fact that the people democratically elect a majority in their national parliament committed to independence would be sufficient to demonstrate support. Scotland has done this several times, and in 1951, a Scottish Covenant calling for a home-rule parliament for Scotland signed by more than two million Scots, well over 50% of the electorate of Scotland at that time, was totally ignored by Westminster. What evidence can Unionists present to the international community to show that Scots today do not want independence?

3) His claim about a majority being required in a referendum is the same issue as two above. No referendum is required for the Scottish people to exercise their sovereign power. Indeed, the idea of a referendum is a relatively new idea. Margaret Thatcher accepted that if the Scottish people sent a majority of independence-supporting MPs to Westminster, that would constitute the Scottish people voting for independence.

4) Finally, his point about the Supreme Court ruling that Scotland cannot hold a referendum – this court has no status in Scotland under the Treaty of Union. It is a court established by Westminster and operates under English sovereignty. The UK Supreme Court acknowledges that Scottish sovereignty is different. It has no role to play in Scottish constitutional law.

Traditionally, in Scottish constitutional law, the principle has been that a Convention of Estates in Scotland can exercise sovereign power. This in common language is a Convention of the Community. The SNP and Believe in Scotland have both called for a constitutional convention of some kind and such a body could exercise sovereign power in Scotland. It could announce that the Treaty of Union was no longer valid, it could remove any restriction on the Scottish parliament and government relating to the Scotland Act and it could arrange for the Scottish Government to prepare a draft written constitution to go before the people for approval.

To address some of the economic questions which Nick Cole raises on the same day, Scotland would need to set up its own currency, which would not be difficult as the Scottish Currency Group has pointed out, and, of course, Scotland would need to negotiate with the UK Government over many matters relating to trade and industry. This should not present Scottish negotiators with any big problems. Scotland does not have a balance-of-payment deficit, while the UK has a huge one so Scotland would be in a strong position in any such negotiations, and England would be anxious to get a deal before the pound sterling collapsed.
Andy Anderson

FOR weeks now, the SNP had been attacked on all fronts not only by their own elected members Lisa Cameron and Ash Regan (below) but by every media outlet that exists ... even this one! Surely it’s time for the back-biting, the jockeying for the best headline and the “don’t say anything, sit quietly in your seat” brigade to get off their comfy Holyrood and Westminster seats and do something other than be nice about everything? That’s not going to wash anymore. There is plenty of groundswell support for independence so it’s not that that is preventing it happening.

The National: Former SNP leadership contender Ash Regan during a photocall at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, after she defected from the SNP, becoming the Alba Party's first ever MSP. Picture date: Monday October 30, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS

Okay, let’s call a spade a spade. Salmond failed ... Sturgeon failed ... but they did do a good job at scaring the beejeezers off Westminster to the extent that it is doing everything it can to undermine devolution, Holyrood and any chance of independence movement success. This week’s revelations of the scale of corruption in the Tory Party and the discontent in the Labour Party surely point to the fact that the Unionists are in disarray.

An election looms – but where are the rallying cries for we Scots who have faithfully marched, contributed and supported the independence banner? Nothing ... just more petty “I know better than you”.

It’s time to get behind the teams that can rally the current troops and encourage the “don’t knows” to know! A divided front and a chaotic coterie of has-beens down south ... what’s to stop us now except ourselves?

All independence-minded parties and groups – talk to each other, don’t jockey to be top dog – you have common ground and it’s the desire for independence.

Regardless of what group you are affiliated to, put the differences on the back burner – they can be dealt with once independence is a reality – and consolidated for that big push. Time is of the essence and it will not wait for the waffling to be over Let’s get to it now!
E Ahern
East Kilbride

I WAS relieved to see the result of the Wellbeing, Equalities, Communities, Culture and Engagement CPC Meeting, held on Thursday afternoon at Glasgow’s City Council.

As someone who attends the Botanic Gardens almost every day with autism, epilepsy and depression, it is a lifeline to me – as much for the medicinal benefits it holds as for its beauty which I love to photograph.

As reported, its review of the “Keep The Kibble Free group’s petition decided to pause the implementation fee on local people until the full impact on local people could be fully explored”

The council had originally said that “the fee could bring in an extra £180,000 a year based on footfall of 100,000 people”.

Which was pure surmising, as many could just as easily be put right off going at all.

Yet, in its greed, it is still taking money off private ventures like GlasGlow and Bard In The Botanics as well as renting out the Kibble Palace to weddings and other organisations events, like the Tee Green Christmas Fair in previous years.

So let’s get it to charge these private companies more money to use our Botanic Gardens and Kibble Palace, and fund the black hole in its £50 million deficit.

There are many other ways the council can raise funds more fairly, like a penny on income tax, or scrapping its unfair council tax model instead of getting ordinary, hard-working, low-income people to pay for what should remain free without any questions.
Jill Ferguson