IT is encouraging to hear the First Minister speak of specific plans to encourage entrepreneurs to start up businesses in Scotland, in particular high-technology businesses that point the way to the future ("I want to shape the future" says Sturgeon in £45m plan, The National, August 31). Government assistance to increase export sales also seems an important and sensible step towards creating growth in Scotland’s economy.

This is much-needed to improve business infrastructure that only government can provide. It is certainly an essential part of growth and I applaud the First Minister. It is not, however, sufficient in itself for it needs to be supported by an overall pro-business culture. The elements of this are fortunately well-known, and include low business taxes, light but smart regulation and a stable currency.

Still, the First Minister’s objective is clearly economic growth and I am delighted to see her give this such prominence. However, economic growth for Scotland also requires population growth, which like so much else is being strangled by the policies of the UK Government. I was glad therefore to hear the First Minister speak so positively about attracting both entrepreneurs and developing businesses to this country. In my view targeting our own huge Scottish diaspora should be a core part of this strategy. After all, these are people with an already emotional link to this country, in addition to any commercial benefits they may be offered.

Create a business-friendly culture and the entrepreneurs will grow our economy. Or “build it and they will come,” as the movie says! This is a time for imagination and enterprise and it is good to see the Scottish Government display these qualities.
Peter Craigie

IT was Mahatma Gandhi who famously said that “a nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members”.

This quote struck home as I read reports that a UN panel has slammed the UK for creating a “human catastrophe for disabled people” and is “going backward” in areas such as education, health, transport and social security.

In its report the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said a combination of funding cuts, rights restrictions and Brexit means that its fears about the UK outstrip those of anywhere else it has investigated in its 10-year history – a truly appalling statement and a damning indictment of Tory policies and their impact on the disabled.

The Tory government should clearly be totally ashamed that its policy of welfare cuts and continuation of an austerity agenda has led to this damning report. Contrasting with this, the panel praised the Scottish Government for its actions in including disability groups in planning and policy making and for its inclusion of disabled people in designing the Scottish social security system.

On the back of this clear wake-up call, the Tories must act to reverse their disastrous and dangerous welfare cuts, which have led to such condemnation from the United Nations.
Alex Orr

BREXIT was triggered without any idea of what was to be negotiated. Months later we now know that the Tory party would like to leave the EU entirely, and negotiate an alternative – uncannily similar to being in the EU, but without the costs. They seem to be asking for a free ride to free trade.

Strangely the Tories are obsessed with the idea that the EU will grant their demands because the EU wishes to sell us German cars. This is a very strange argument indeed, as it supposes that UK residents might be happy not to have German cars or spares, as if the Tories had decided to cut off our noses to spite someone else’s face. Surely, whatever the arrangements, the EU will sell us the cars and spares we want. It will be up to the UK as importer to decide on tariffs, quotas, etc.

We have now reached the point where some Tory and Labour politicians are beginning to admit that without a change of direction a cliff-edge is inevitable. Amidst shrieks from the extremists that any such a change would deny the democratic will of the people, backtracking is gathering pace. Both major parties are slowly beginning to reach the logic expressed by the SNP immediately after the EU referendum.

The UK has to stay in the free trade area and the customs union. Neither of the major parties have yet admitted that the stay-in may be permanent, but both now express the need for a transitional stay-in. Or in the case of the Tory party a pseudo stay-in, in a face-saving replica version of the existing free trade area and the customs union.

Interestingly the now renamed Great Repeal Bill as currently drafted is incompatible with the stay-in as described by Keir Starmer of the Labour Party.

Since parliamentary scrutiny of this bill starts next week, quick thinking of an unprecedented order of urgency is required, lest the whole process becomes so laughable that it has to be abandoned, and we have apologise to the EU for our folly, and ask for our resignation to be torn up.

The will of the people is an interesting concept, not surely best represented by the outcome of an ill-informed referendum. Untruths abounded, and important issues were ignored by both the organisers of Remain and Leave. I shall never forget the confusion and alarm on the faces of Johnson and Gove, when the unexpected result was announced.
Alex Mitchell
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