READ this morning (DUP deal should have restored devolution in NI, The National, July 4) that “a Conservative Party spokesperson” last night defended the deal by saying that Scotland will benefit from a £3.7 billion deal to build three Type 26 frigates as if its part of the DUP deal.

Firstly, who is this spokesperson? Secondly, what has a totally watered-down deal for 13 frigates promised if Scotland voted No during indyref got to do will the current round of bribery and corruption that gives Northern Ireland an extra £1bn to keep the Tories in power? Thirdly, who are they handing the money to?

Northern Ireland still, after six months of negotiating, hasn’t got a working government at Stormont. If the Tories are giving it to the devolved agencies directly, then that is in breach of the devolution settlement. It is up to Stormont to allocate devolved funds. If they are holding it in reserve until Stormont starts working again, then they won’t see any money, think of The Vow and the Smith Commission. And lastly, why are they so brazenly using this DUP bribe to reduce a promise of 13 ships to three made to Scotland in 2014? This is absolutely unacceptable.
Andy Hurley


EU scepticism in Scotland deeper than EUref result I WAS intrigued to read some of the counter arguments from some of your correspondents to David Jamieson’s excellent piece The Leavers Left Behind in Bella Caledonia (The National supplement, July 1).

As someone who has been arguing for a year now, often at great length with both EUphiles and EU-sceptic Yessers that the strategy of tying indyref2 too closely to the question of the EU and Brexit was a mistaken one, it struck me that the same old hoary, irrelevant and specious arguments were being raised — in defence of a strategy that has failed to raise support for indy beyond 45 per cent, and has seen support for the SNP drop.

The first of these arguments is the “Apocabrexit” argument. Things are going to be so bad after Brexit that these silly, intellectually challenged Leavers will realise the error of their EU-sceptic ways and flock to our banner. Of course, there will be some economic dislocation and adjustment to be sure, just as there will be once Scotland becomes independent. However, no true Yesser would throw away the dream of democratic sovereignty just because there will be some inevitable bumps along the road. And we can simply point out three very real counterfactuals — Norway, Iceland and Switzerland all exist quite happily outside the EU, with their own arrangements. Last time I looked, the Swiss, Icelanders and Norwegians weren’t casting about desperately in sackcloth and ashes in an apocalyptic landscape weeping and wailing for EU membership to come to their rescue.

The second is the entirely questionable “it’s kept the peace for 62 years” argument. There are a whole range of factors as to why we’ve never had another major European war, and the EU is demonstrably the least of them, since it has only been in existence since the November 1, 1993.

Perhaps most deceptive and intellectually dishonest of all, is the reduction of the question of EU membership to a bipolar choice — either the EU or Westminster, and Westminster is clearly worse. Well, of course, it is, and no-one who voted Yes and Leave that I’ve ever met has ever made the claim that continued Westminster rule is somehow better, or an alternative to being in the EU. But of course, it’s entirely wrong to set up the argument in that bipolar fashion because there is an another alternative Scots may choose — that is of independence from both Westminster and Brussels.

Finally, all of these arguments — in essence arguments for or against the EU — are in fact irrelevant to the central argument being made at this time by those of us in the Yes movement who want, like Nicola Sturgeon, a more general case for independence to be made, and for indyref2 to focus on all the good reasons for independence that both Yes Remainers and Yes Leavers agree on. That is because our argument is essentially a strategic one. It’s not about asking Leavers or Remainers to abandon their deeply held views, but about finding a way to get both back aboard the same Yes bus, and develop the natural majority that will exist in Scotland in the coming years for independence.

In short, let’s get indy first, then let the people of an independent Scotland decide democratically, in their own referendum, what they want their relationship with the EU to be at that time, and under those circumstances.

And perhaps just to pre-empt another argument of distraction that has often been thrown at me when I raise a future referendum as a potential solution to the EU/Brexit Gordian knot — that Scotland has already voted by 62 per cent to stay in the EU — I will make the following points: A) Scotland voted for the UK to stay in the EU (check the question on the ballot paper). The question of whether an independent Scotland should be in the EU has never been put. And those two questions are clearly very different questions.

B) Surveys and polling have suggested that the 62 per cent does not represent a homogenous block of pro-EU votes; that many who voted Remain did so in opposition to the racist policies and Little Englander politics of the UKIP/Tory Leave campaign, rather than any deep conviction about the EU, or because they thought it would lead to indyref2. A number of commentators have now made the point that EU-scepticism in Scotland reaches much deeper than the surface result might suggest. And they are right.
Steve Arnott

THE dumming down of business news has become the norm. Hour after hour BBC journalists question politicians about the removal of the one per cent public sector pay cap and its effects on the economy.

They work out how much this will cost and round it all up by asking where will the money come from to pay all these people? It is not that journalists are pro- or anti-pay cap, it is that they think that stupid viewers will not understand anything more challenging than a simple view of the economy. I am not an economist but what is missing from this simplistic and lazy reporting is glaringly obvious. If the government removes the pay cap and listens instead to advisory bodies on public sector pay as the Scottish Government does, what will actually happen?

The answer is in this question. What will firemen and women, police, hospital workers, council workers, armed forces and teachers do with a pay rise? Yes it is that simple, spend it. Immediately 20 per cent goes to the government in VAT and every pound they spend helps to secure the employment of people in industry, commerce and hospitality, effectively stimulating the economy.

So the real cost to the economy is far less and ignored by the media.

Why? Maybe it’s not such a good story, but I think viewers are smart enough to work it out for themselves.
Mike Herd