As one of those English people resident in Scotland who is inclined to vote ‘Yes’ for Scottish independence, I have become increasingly disillusioned with the state of democracy in the UK and see a vote for independence as the best way forward.
There are many other non-Scots resident in Scotland who feel the same way as me, which is one of the main reasons why the polls give ‘Yes’ voters a share of the electorate that far exceeds that of SNP voters alone.
If people like me are to be won back to a Unionist position, then something has to be done about the democratic deficit in the UK as a whole.
1. The current situation in which the Westminster parliament is both the UK ‘federal’ parliament and the English ‘provincial’ parliament is unsustainable. These two functions need to be separated out or the Union will fall apart. The cheapest and simplest way to do this would be to combine it with House of Lords Reform and have one of the Westminster Chambers as an English parliament and one as federal legislature.
2. Restore the representative element to Parliamentary democracy. Members of Parliament(s) are supposed to represent their constituencies but this is undermined by parties ‘parachuting in’ candidates. We need regulations that require candidates to be in some sense local – a five-year residency requirement prior to election might work, though other systems are possible.
3. Take the money out of party politics. The war chests of political parties are far too important and distort the democratic process. Party funding must be limited to membership fees only, with discount membership for students, pensioners, the unemployed etc topped up from tax revenue. This would make parties poorer but that would be better for democracy if there were fewer special advisors and spin doctors, and politicians had to script their own speeches and sound bites.
4. Some form of proportionate representation needs to be introduced at UK level. Whether this would be a top-up system similar to that used in Holyrood or some other sytem is not as important as the principal that the party representation in the various legislative chambers should reflect the support for the parties at the polls.
Dr Alex Woolf, Medieval History, University of St Andrews
California Poppies threaten native flora
I like and regularly travel on the trams but was extremely disappointed that landscaping adjacent to Balgreen Station included California Poppies.
While deceptively attractive, these plants are very resilient and seed rapidly in desert areas. In this country, where there is no shortage of rain, they can out-compete our native species with resultant disastrous effects on our flora and fauna.
Because of this plant’s ability to survive and adapt like Terminator anti- hero Arnold Schwarzenegger, we need to stop this menace now before it is too late.
Mr DS Brown, Saughton Mains Ave, Edinburgh
Vote Yes to save us from English NHS cuts
I write to express my serious concern regarding the latest diminution of the precious Ambulance Service in England. I understand that in some parts of the country, in some emergency ambulances there will no longer be a paramedic - to save money.
Some ambulances are run by privateers who can be expected to count profit before the care of patients; they have to make money for shareholders and they seem able, somehow, to salve their consciences about making profits from the sickness and need of their patients.
This is another insidious example of the iniquitous privatisation of the NHS, for which I worked for 40 years, as did members of my family before me and some still do so.
I find this incredible and totally unacceptable. Why are we as a country not shouting this from the rooftops? Where are UK Labour?
From my Scotland perspective, where we have not accepted privatisation of our health service, I worry that should there be a ‘No’ vote in the independence referendum, we too will suffer the same fate as England - maybe not immediately but inevitably. This reinforces my decision to vote ‘Yes’.
Patricia M Farrington MBE, Isle of Islay, Argyll.
Hibs-Hearts memories are really just myths
I would like to correct the assumption that 1945 to 1965 was a golden era for Edinburgh’s two football teams - it is a myth.
One story is that fans of both clubs would go to watch their Edinburgh rivals every second week when their club was playing away. There probably were a few but I never knew any. What was common was to go, as I did, to see an occasional game, particularly during the Famous Five period, and not all after 1956.
Second myth was that it was all football banter with no heated arguments. Not in my workplace, if it’s anything to go by. The difference then is that it was face to face, unlike now with internet trolls hiding behind pseudonym so they can remain anonymous. We apprentices remained quiet because of the repercussions from the older men.
The third, and what most fans are told was a glory time for Hearts and Hibs, is the biggest myth of all. In the 20 years there were 60 major trophies to be played for. Edinburgh’s big two won a total of ten between them - certainly not a golden era considering the players they had then (the great Hibs team never won a single cup) and Hearts for all their potential continued to underachieve.
So when the old fans say ‘it was better in my day’, it is all nostalgia and something for Saturday’s Evening News memories section.
George Ritchie, North Gyle Terrace, Edinburgh