JANE Cassidy’s piece on Saturday rang one very resounding bell for me, on the prime compelling reasons we need independence; although she certainly has more immediate and intense grounds for her argument than most of us (This year I’ll wear my purple ribbon with a Yes badge, The National, March 25).

Never mind that, since the Act of Union, Scotland has been both sidelined and mercilessly exploited for the benefit and comfort of a ruling class four hundred miles away. Never mind that Scottish industry has been starved of investment or just plain sacrificed for the sake not only of southern competitors, but to make sure we’re kept in our subordinate place. Never mind that our rich, diverse native culture, and our languages, have been suppressed, trivialised and denigrated – despite which, I’m glad to say, their various manifestations have shown a vigorous persistence. Never mind, even, the disproportionate numbers of Scots soldiers who have died in wars, since the mid 18th century, fought in the interests of “British” policy.

What I, and I’m sure many, many thousands of Scots, find unacceptably repugnant is the callous and ultimately vicious demonisation and persecution of the sick and the poor. I’m more than old enough to remember the earlier days of the NHS which saved my life, no doubt expensively, from the consequences of a childhood injury when my parents couldn’t have hoped to pay for even one day of the six weeks’ hospitalisation I received. Now it is having to weigh and balance competing financial pressures as it didn’t have to do then. Much worse, however, is London’s clear intention to sub-let the entire service to commercial interests until we have a system aping the American model – do nothing unless there’s a profit in it. Oh, and sod the long-term sick and/or indigent sick; no money in that.

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Meanwhile, since the eighties Westminster has been clearly intent on creating a permanent and substantial pool of “surplus labour”, so that competition for the means of actually making a livelihood destroys security of employment, weakening (in many cases, destroying) unions and thereby workers’ rights and safeguards. Ally that to a social “security” system intent on denying and depriving the unemployed of the financial support they need, and the result, of course, is food banks, clothing banks and we have something I never saw from my teens to my forties – the now-ubiquitous beggars. What it does to human self-respect to squat on a pavement, hand out, effectively saying “I can’t cope – please help me” to every passing stranger is incalculable but appalling.

Clearly, we now have a Scottish Government which embodies the Scottish social conscience to a much greater degree than any London-centric party ever would. No-one in Scotland has to pay for prescriptions, as is the case in England, or eye tests; and our hospitals still seem to be doing significantly better than the commercialised system in England. But our government has no control over unemployment provision or social security, nor is likely ever to be able to pry either that or the funds to pay for them out of the domineering grasp of Westminster, and what is happening in those areas both revolts and angers me.

I’ll cheerfully foot my (pensioned) part of the bill if it means no deserving case goes hungry, or ragged, or roofless. There are tens of thousands of children caught up in this callously inhuman regime. Once it was taken for granted that “see to the bairns” was an unarguable, unbreakable moral imperative: we won’t be able to make that real unless and until we get clear of the grasping, dictatorial regime under which the helpless now suffer. Their aims and practices are, literally, intolerable.
Colin Stuart
Saline, Fife


Don't be taken in by the nuclear double-speak

WORDS matter. When asked how to bring harmony and justice to the state, Confucius replied: “give things their true name”. Honesty is the prime virtue. How disappointing then to see the only daily in Scotland which supports a nuclear-free independent Scotland fall into the trap of using nukespeak’s No.1 weasel word.

In his piece “Faslane is hit by the first in a series of strikes” (The National, March 25), Greg Russell writes of Britain’s nuclear “deterrent”. This self-vindicating euphemism automatically justifies the object it denotes, and should never be used by honest people. The things carried in the subs are hydrogen bombs, not deterrents or detergents or devices or capabilities, or umbrellas or guarantees of national security or any other lying neologism the government devises.

During my trial for breach of the peace in Stirling on March 13 (I had crawled under a vehicle in the convoy) I nearly started giggling like a schoolgirl when a police witness claimed the convoy carried “assets(!) of a sensitive nature”. Like a poetic youth with daffodil in hand, Trident warheads are sensitive souls. You mustn’t call them hydrogen bombs. It embarrasses them.

I am in the process of compiling a nukespeak lexicon and would welcome contributions from your readers.

Apart from the familiar “collateral damage” (killing innocent civilians) we can add “surgical(!) first strike” (starting a nuclear war), “preemptive first strike” (starting a nuclear war), “demographic targeting” (blasting whole cities), “flexible response” (being ready to use nuclear weapons first), “escalation dominance” (fighting and winning a nuclear war) and my all time favourite “cocktail configuration” (having a different number of warheads on each of the missiles). I just love the “cocktail’ allusion; shades of champagne glasses and Noel Coward and dancing in the night...

There isn’t a button or key to launch Trident. The actual firing mechanism is modelled on a Colt 45 revolver, so that the operator will feel a familiar shape when he commits the final atrocity. Lies, lies to the end.

Meanwhile, please, everybody: never use the word deterrent to describe our nuclear WMD.
Brian Quail

AS a novice learner of Gaelic who has been deeply impressed by the lyrical beauty of the language, the article by the Wee Ginger Dug was thoughtful and informative (Gaelic is not a nationalist conspiracy, The National, March 25). To further debunk the nationalist conspiracy, it’s worth noting that the Tories provided funding for BBC Alba and it was the Labour and LibDem coalition headed by Jack McConnell that introduced legislation for the protection of Gaelic in 2005.
Douglas Turner

I READ the article by Kirsten Paterson on the tennis centre to be built in St Andrews at a cost of £3m, using funding from Sportscotland, a private donor, the university and other bodies (£3m tennis centre is all set to create aces, The National, March 24). This is a sadly short-sighted plan likely to benefit youngsters from Fife schools, students of the university itself and other elites.

All across Scotland our public tennis courts have disappeared, or if they still exist are going to ruin. Reinstating public, council-run tennis courts would be a vastly better use of the funds and would help create a few jobs for areas which are likely to be depressed. Not only giving youngsters who don’t have a lot of money opportunities to access an outdoor activity at low cost, but helping support better health, reduce obesity and boredom. Reinstating local facilities is better than creating a tennis centre in the wealthy town of St Andrews which is simply helping to keep tennis as an exclusive and elitist sport.
Aileen Park

DID my eyes deceive me? Or did I really see that Theresa May thinks Trump is “a gentleman”?

Well, it’s clear to me that we move in widely different circles! I should rather have described Trump as a blustering bully.

Though I suppose if she is comparing him with the current batch of Tory MPs she may have a point.
Peter Craigie