I’M struggling to find justification for the “Nicola, Capitalist” epithet in either Sturgeon’s address at Stanford University or Michael Fry’s analysis (Stanford treated to side of Sturgeon rarely glimpsed: Nicola, Capitalist, The National, April 11). All I am seeing is Nicola the principled pragmatist that we have known for some time.

It is difficult to see how this could have been missed given that the passage from her speech quoted positively oozes principled pragmatism. Unless, of course, you choose to read only every second word; picking out phrases such as “free trade” and “benefits of globalisation” while disregarding things like “properly managed” and “fairer and inclusive society”.

Mr Fry’s comments about economic priorities are also a little odd. Aside from the fact that he seems to suppose the Scottish Government actually has the powers needed to fine tune the economy, never mind steer it in the right general direction, he seems to think Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has a simple choice to make between “maxing out” his borrowing and adopting the “German example”. In reality, of course, no such simple choice would be available even if Mr Mackay had at his disposal all the economic levers that are currently being withheld by the British state.

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It took more than being “fanatical about running a balanced budget” to get Germany to where it is. It took a strategy. Germany didn’t get to its present position without passing through a period of deficit budgeting.

Successive UK governments have shown themselves to be spectacularly inept when it comes to managing Scotland’s economy. By all means urge Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government to get the priorities right. But it makes no sense whatever to blame them for getting priorities wrong when they have virtually no means of prioritising and must, instead, accept priorities imposed on them by London.
Peter A Bell
via thenational.scot

MICHAEL Fry’s article irritated me intensely because of his praise for Germany’s fiscal brilliance (“Germany is also fanatical about running a balanced budget”), supported by comparing Germany’s return to surplus in 2016-17.

Well, Mr Fry, given the unprecedented financial stimulus Germany received through The Marshall Plan and subsequent short-term clearing debt to Europe, which forced its European neighbours to trade with that country on hugely beneficial terms, it is no surprise that post-war Germany is financially solvent.

According to an article by Albrecht Ritschl of the London School of Economics in 2012, “No claims against Germany could be brought unless the Germans had fully repaid Marshall Aid. This meant that by 1947 all foreign claims on Germany were blocked, including the 90 per cent GDP in wartime clearing debt”.

Also, “in 1953 the London Agreement on German Debt perpetuated these arrangements and post-1933 debts were postponed to a reparations conference to be held after a future German unification. No such conference has been held after the reunification of 1990 and the German position is that these debts have ceased to exist”.

Germany’s preferential treatment continues to this day.

So, yes, Mr Fry, if an independent Scotland could look forward to the kind of financial support that has made Germany a by-word for financial probity that would be wonderful. Unfortunately, we won’t benefit from a version of the Marshall Plan. We’ll be forced to repay our debts, including any accrued by the UK and, no doubt, “our share” of the divorce settlement resulting from Brexit.
Lovina Roe


Roadshow highlighted the diversity of the Yes movement

LAST Friday, The National Roadshow set up in our wee grassroots indy shop here on the High Street in Fort William. Our shop was very busy and all our volunteers had a great time with Callum Baird and Stephen Paton during the day. In the evening, Wee Ginger Dug (Paul Kavanagh) and Callum, spoke at Kilmallie Hall Community Centre.

Speaking to lots of folk afterwards, we generally agreed that the Dug was bigger than we had previously imagined. Callum had a wise head on young shoulders, and listening to Paul was quite a mesmerising experience. Of course, everyone appreciated his wit and his patter, but I heard one person say that he could not recall hearing anyone so humane. That really stuck with me. And I am sure everyone else in the audience felt pretty much the same. We would highly recommend that if ever any of your readers get a chance to hear Mr Kavanagh live, they should take it.

The next day, we had Paul Kavanagh, Robin McAlpine and Cat Boyd all speaking at our A Better Scotland conference with other local speakers from various local grassroots organisations. The day turned out to be a great success. It was only after the conference that I remembered that all three speakers are regular contributors to The National.

This got me thinking that although the three main speakers have much in common, they also all have quite different perspectives on the independence question (a plurality of ideas and opinions have always been recognised by us in the shop as a healthy diet for consumption.) So although we are pro-independence, we encourage a wide range of views within that context. It is a space that we are comfortable in (after all, without it, our shop could not exist as it does) and I am sure The National must have a similar existence too.

Aye2Aye Lochaber would like to thank all of you at The National for helping to create a fantastic weekend for us all here in the Fort. We look forward to seeing you again in the future.
Eddie Morgan
Aye2Aye Lochaber

I WOULD like to pay tribute to Kenneth Gibson MSP, who campaigned for the debate in the Scottish Parliament, with cross-party support, on February 28.

The debate was called “It’s OK to talk. Period”. One in 10 women suffers from endometriosis. It is a dire and debilitating condition, which impacts on the life of every aspect of every woman suffering from it. I suffered for 34 years.

A hysterectomy ended my suffering, as I had adenomyosis, ie inflammation confined to endometrial lining of my womb.

I know many women for whom this was not a cure. The endometrial lining can travel to every organ and system in the body. It has even been found in the lungs and brain.

Pain is accepted as normal. It is not. It is a major cause of infertility. We have many great gynaecologists throughout Scotland. We have experts in accredited units to ensure a multi-specialist approach. As one expert in the endometriosis research unit in the US stated, “one competent surgery, of properly excised excision of the abnormal tissue, can save a woman countless procedures”.

There are two accredited units in Scotland: one in Aberdeen and one in Edinburgh. At the debate, Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell stated: “Every endometriosis sufferer should expect nothing less than expert care.”

Thank you to all who participated in the debate. Thank you to STV for the coverage. I have sought for this hideous and painful condition to be discussed and acted upon. Not suffered behind closed doors.

The debate and campaign by Kenneth Gibson has been shared throughout the world. My friend shared it with an endometriosis specialist nurse in Australia. Proud of my MSP for speaking up for all women.
Anne Devlin
Address supplied

I NOTE that Tim Farron described Boris Johnson as a “poodle of Washington” (Boris is branded Trump’s poodle, The National, April 10), and as the owner of a Standard poodle, I must object as my dog has more integrity and, possibly, intelligence than the Foreign Secretary. My dog is clearly disgusted at the comparison!
George Rhind