A WEE story to start off.  A patient goes to his doctor as he has a really bad knee and is struggling to walk. The doctor inspects the knee as tells the patient that his cartilage needs to be removed. It is an elective surgery but once it’s done, he will be up and about in no time.  That was in 2014. The patient said no to the surgery. He decided to limp along restricted in what he can do. Can’t paint  the house, mend the fence or start the business he always wanted to. A few years later he’s wheeled back into the doctor’s  in a chair. “Doctor, there has been no improvement, I’m in agony every day and can’t do  any more than I could the last time I was here”.  The doctor replies “Well Mr Scott, the only thing that will cure your condition is the operation to clean up your cartilage. If you don’t, your condition will only worsen.”  At this point the patient loses his temper and starts shouting “Operation, operation, why do you keep talking about an operation?”

Can you see how stupid the patient is? There is only one thing that can cure his condition. Right now he is suffering and things will not improve over time. Sure, he can wheel himself about and do a restricted amount things. He might get strong arms but that’s about all.

Consider this. The patient is Scotland in 2014. 55 per cent voted No to independence. Some of it was out of fear and some of it was out of pure attachment to the cartilage!

We are treated to a daily dose by the Operation Unionist “No to ScotRef” parties of how bad the SNP is performing and how Scotland is too poor. But it doesn’t take much of a closer inspection to realise that the problems that are affecting Scotland’s mobility is that Westminster cartilage.

How? I hear you say. Well,  just the other day the Unionist parties were saying Scotland’s oil cost the Scots money last year. Really? The reason the UK and as a result Scotland “lost” money was because the UK Government reduced the Petroleum Revenue Tax to zero per cent. If you decide to give it away you won’t make any money! Think about it.  The UK is borrowing money whilst giving Scottish resources away to make Scotland look poor, then expecting us to pay that money back. That is nothing other than politically engineered poverty!

Aye but the SNP haven’t grown the economy. Again, without having full control of every lever – ie corporation tax, borrowing, immigration, international trade representation – you can’t  reach much higher than your wheelchair allows.

We just need to look at  Ireland, who have the fastest growing economy in the EU at  5.2 per cent. They have full control of all the levers and it’s working for them.  Their renewable energy policies, corporation taxes, immigration are all under their control. Oh ... and they are in the EU!

Even if Scotland decides that the European Economic Area  or European Free Trade Association is best for us, it is a choice we should make, and maybe then we can see the full potential of Scotland.  Not a Scotland saddled with Westminster debt payments,  and policies that restrict the direction of where we can grow our economy.

Maybe it’s time the relatives of Mr Scott insist that he has the operation and gets rid of that gnarled piece of Westminster cartilage so he can get walking, working and living a better quality of life.  One thing’s for sure, if he doesn’t they won’t be wheeling him about forever!

Don’t vote for the Operation Unionist parties or you will never be able to walk again!
Mark Breingan


Where do we draw the line with faith schools?

I WAS about to write a response to Cat Boyd’s article (The problem with Catholic schools is not sectarianism, The National, May5) until, that is, I read Amena Abu-Arafeh’s moving long letter in today’s issue. I would only ask Cat – where does it end? Jehovah’s Witness schools? Free Church schools? Shia schools? Sunni schools? Methodist schools? Mormon schools? Greek Orthodox schools? Quaker schools? I could go on, since there are at least another 57 varieties of faith in the world at the moment.

Like Cat, I am an atheist and would add that I am not against some studies in comparative religion in schools. Finally, and I would like to stress this, I totally disagree with Cat’s final paragraphs. “Religion remains the heart of a heartless world,” she writes. Really? As for her assertion that atheists only make up 16 per cent of humanity, if I were threatened with stoning, being sent to hell, being denied employment or, if lucky, simply being ostracised, I’m not sure I’d have the courage to go public with my atheism.
Andrew Sanders


I WOULD like to thank Amina Abu-Arafeh for her brave and honestly written letter as well as congratulate The National for finally having the good sense to allow a platform for ex-Muslims who are desperately trying to warn us and help us understand about the gross dangers of religions like Islam. Please make this paper more of a voice for real progressives like Amina Abu-Arafeh and support all ex-Muslims, who are some of the bravest and thoughtful people you may have the pleasure to know.

James Mills Renfrewshire I DO wish people would stop ranting about failing schools vis-a-vis pupil literacy. Everyone should know by this time that the home is where literacy starts and is nurtured. Teachers do the best they can with the material they get, and the majority of pupils nowadays (and in the past) do not have the background that encourages literacy. Now all children can Google, but they do not Google books. As for writing, the only writing they are interested in, apart from using a qwerty keyboard, is texting.

Be fair, folks. Curricula over the years have been hijacked to “meet the needs of industry and commerce” and now that there is a computer/tablet/mobi -speak generation of pupils there’s a hue and cry. Teachers have always been to blamed for society’s failings but most teachers know basics need to be taught. Now for teachers it’s endless form filling, assessments and accountability to people who think because they once went to school they know how it should be done and what should be done.

Leave it to the professionals and please let the monitoring be done by professionals too, not pundits with political agendas! Give schools the funding, the number of teachers needed to support all children and importantly the freedom to teach the basics that will ensure our future generations have the skills to learn and put that knowledge to use!
Eleanor Ahern
Address supplied


SOME excellent articles on Scottish history all week in The National describing how the reformation acted like the Taliban with regard to religious art and culture in Scotland. I would be interested to know if the Presbyterian church has ever acknowledged their past sins so to speak But one particular letter from Gordon Ferrie in the Friday edition made me smile regards the 50th anniversary of Celtic winning the European Cup.

That period was indeed a glorious period for Scottish football in general (perhaps Rangers might not think so).

Like Gordon, the only thing that would surpass Celtic’s famous win for me would be self-determination.
Bryan Auchterlonie

YOU were kind enough to publish a letter of mine in Friday’s edition. However the prominent headline you gave it was at odds with my point.

I have nothing against the SNP candidate, who I am sure is perfectly capable. My argument is with the SNP hierarchy who refuse to work with other parties to promote independence. I hope you can put the matter straight.
Ian Richmond
Dumfries and Galloway