I HAVE been disturbed by some of the recent letters in The National relating to our “headlong rush from the EU” and the suggestion by some that we should have the courage to stop this “madness” by somehow just not implementing the Brexit vote.

I find it deeply disturbing that a cabal of those who regard themselves as better than us (Tony Blair, anyone?) are seriously trying to stop Brexit happening. We did not vote to keep this bit or that bit of the treaty, we voted to come out altogether. I do not think James Andrew Mills was overstating it as an assault on democracy to seek to just overturn the Leave vote.

I am not racist, xenophobic, uneducated or just plain stupid, yet I voted Leave because of, amongst other things, deep concerns over the lack of democracy evident in the EU. Being constantly bombarded by SNP stalwarts as to how stupid I have been is more than just annoying, I believe it is what cost us seats in the recent Westminster elections.

Loading article content

A good proportion of SNP voters are either far from convinced about the EU, or outright hostile to it, and we are sick of being patronised. Perhaps instead of asking whether it is too late to come back from the cliff edge, the writers would be better employed asking why so many of us are against the EU.

When the majority of Scots sadly voted No in 2014, I and others had to just lump it. We did not give up on our dream, and are seeking to persuade people to change their minds for a future independence vote, but at no time did we say “let’s just ignore the vote and declare UDI” or anything along those lines.

We are constantly told that the Leave campaign lied to us, but I did not vote Leave because of the £350 million a week figure, or because I was brainwashed by Aaron Banks or Nigel Farage. I did and do have concerns about unfettered immigration, especially when people my age (60) are basically shoved on the scrapheap at the same time as Nicola Sturgeon is saying “Scotland is not full up”.

At the same time, I have yet to see any convincing counter-arguments in favour of the EU. Pro-EU arguments are usually pretty vague, for example, all the waffle about the EU keeping the peace for decades (no, Europe was exhausted and bankrupt and it was the Marshall Plan and the expansion of consumerism which restored order, and Nato and principally America which has kept the peace). When inconvenient truths are pointed out, such as that Common Agricultural Policy subsidies enrich most of all the already-richest landowners in Scotland, or that human rights legislation has stopped us deporting people who commit the most awful crimes, there is no response. They also conveniently forget the consumer, environmental and workers’ rights which the EU signed away with the acceptance of Ceta. The biggest fudge of all, of course, is the euro, which apparently we don’t have to adopt (we do). The irony of it being such a bad thing we have to just swerve it for the rest of eternity is lost on them.

True, there are economic implications in leaving the EU, but again, I see implications and not Armageddon. The most serious implications I can see are in the fields of higher education and science funding. I acknowledge this, but perhaps pro-EU forces need to ask themselves instead why Leavers have seen so little benefit in being in the EU, and as for “independence in Europe”, the EU was a staunch opponent of Scottish independence.

I believe the SNP must distance itself from its love affair with the EU. Scotland will be taken out of the EU as part of the UK. Once we are independent, we can have a sensible discussion about whether we wish to reapply and on what terms.
Julia Pannell
Friockheim, Tayside


Be wary of conflating property wealth with pensions

I MUST say I do enjoy reading Michael Fry’s weekly column and although I may not always agree with everything he writes I find it interesting to see how the independence debate looks from a more conservative point of view.

Yesterday’s is one, however, where I feel he’s missed the mark (Most of our inequality is impossible to fix, The National, July 25). Conflating property and pensions wealth as the same is quite wrong. Putting it simply, the former is unearned wealth whereas the latter is earnings that have been deferred and are subject to income tax at various points in time.

Michael remarks that property wealth increases without the owner doing anything. And there lies the rub. The unearned property wealth that is accumulated is done so on the back of civic improvements that we all pay for (think roads, schools, trams etc) that increase the “value” of a property. That coupled with the hoarding of land by the huge estates or by land speculators and land bankers only adds to this. Unless we can tap into this wealth then land prices will continue to increase and fewer and fewer of us will be able to afford to own a home.

The big answer to Michael’s question of how to redistribute this wealth is the introduction of an annual ground rent, or land value tax. This could be implemented now at a local authority level replacing the council tax and depending on the level set could easily be off-set against a significant reduction in basic rate income tax thereby reducing the tax burden on large numbers of less well-off people, allowing the consequent available income to be used in the wider economy. It will also ensure that in time land prices themselves will decrease, thereby leading to lower house prices making them much more affordable for normal people.

Of course this correction to house prices would be borne by the prosperous middle classes, but as this is unearned, locked-in wealth that is artificially high anyway, then is it no bad thing? The time has come to look seriously at resetting the wealth “system” and the concept of an Annual Ground Rent is something we should be taking a hard look at.
Stewart Riddick

GEORGE M Mitchell (Prime Minister May’s superiority complex is a very English trait, Letters, July 25) is mistaken. On October 21 2006 The Herald printed the following from its archives: “50 YEARS AGO. The public inquiry at Dumbarton into the National Coal Board’s proposal to develop a coalfield between Bearsden and Milngavie was told it was intended that most of the miners would travel daily to their work by bus from Kirkintilloch. This was the reply to Mr J O M Hunter, QC, who referred to apprehension that mining families would come to live in Bearsden and Milngavie, and even enter the schools there.”

In 1956, I was a pupil at Dalziel High School in Motherwell and certainly experienced no discrimination because my father was a coal miner. But it seems from the deadpan report in the then Glasgow Herald that a superiority complex was alive and well in the North of Glasgow. Of course, Mr Hunter might have been English but I do not think so. We would be weakened if we believed that Scots are immune from snobbery.
Hugh Dunnachie

I RECENTLY came across figures listing the donations to the recent General Election from businesses, hedge funds, wealthy individuals and others. In summary: The UK Conservative Party received £12,704,000. Take 1/11th of that for Scotland, and this is equal to £1,155,000. The SNP in Scotland received £63,000 (in 2014 the Largs lottery winners generously donated a large sum).

Translated into money per vote received in Scotland, a vote for the Conservatives cost 93 pence; a vote for the SNP cost six pence.

We do not have the sources of income that the Conservatives have. However, with 120,000 members we should be able to do better than this. If these figures are right each member of the SNP donated only 50 pence. £20 or similar is not a lot for those of us who can afford it: half a tankful of petrol. A night at the pictures for two. Three special fish suppers and a bottle of Irn Bru.

Looked upon as savings or investment, what a potential enormous return on our money!
Victor Moncrieff