Letters: So how much is being spent on No campaign?

Prime Minister David Cameron at the Scottish Conference. Pic: Neil Hanna
Prime Minister David Cameron at the Scottish Conference. Pic: Neil Hanna
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Leader of the No campaign Alistair Darling is getting ahead of himself with his April Fool jokes. His claim that the Yes side in the referendum will outspend Better Together is as hilarious as it is premature.

Both the UK and Scottish governments are spending taxpayers’ money but there is an important difference. The White Paper was introduced after a specific electoral pledge was backed by a mandate in the election of 2011, becoming Scottish Government policy.

Tories and Labour politicians have lined up to attack it – most of whom claim to have read it. If so, they have incurred public expense and it is a bit rich for them to complain that a government is providing information which it was elected to provide!

However, Mr Cameron and his UK coalition government were not elected on any pledge over the Scottish referendum and his intention of ‘straining every sinew’ to oppose independence does not have any electoral mandate.

The relentless barrage of Westminster parliamentary reports and UK civil service papers attacking Scottish independence are publicly funded, as is the lobbying of foreign governments and industry to create alarm about Scottish independence.

The UK Government and the British Establishment, backed by virtually all the British media, have thrown massive public resources behind the No campaign, along with the three main UK political parties and many of the wealthy elite who want things to remain just the way they are.

The Scottish government’s expenditure is known because the Scottish system is open and transparent. But just how much taxpayers’ money is being spent by Westminster and its quasi-governmental allies we may never know.

Darling is making a fuss because he realises his campaign is losing, with polls showing a small but steady swing to Yes.

Andrew Murray Scott, Broughty Ferry

Darling’s city warning is a slap in the face

Alistair Darling has a nerve to say that a Yes vote is ‘as bad for the city as the banking crisis’ (Evening News, March 25) as he was the person responsible for setting up the light supervision system for regulating the banks and ignored warnings from the Financial Services Authority prior to the collapse of Northern Rock.

As chancellor, why did Alistair Darling not insist that the FSA require extra safeguards for Royal Bank’s acquisition of ABN Amro after the Northern Rock crisis, when the Dutch regulator did?

Only two weeks after Northern Rock’s collapse the UK FSA gave its approval for the disastrous RBS £49 billion takeover despite RBS breaking FSA rules over capital requirements.

Jim Sillars is right, we should ignore Alistair Darling’s scaremongering as thousands of new jobs will come to Edinburgh after independence. If I had some spare cash I would be investing in property in Edinburgh before September.

Mary Thomas, Watson Cresecent, Edinburgh

Time to integrate city’s rail and bus travel

The UK national railway station usage figures have recently been published and it is fantastic to see that patronage of ten out of the 11 stations in Edinburgh has increased.

Following the closure of the city’s rail network in the 1960s, only four stations were left out of over 50 but, with the opening of new stations since the early 1980s, over 2.2 million journeys were recorded from and to suburban stops excluding Waverley and Haymarket in 2012-13.

This is great news as it shows that the city’s economy is healthy and takes cars and buses off the roads. However, it is concerning that of these 2.2 million journeys, the stations in the south west of the city, at Slateford, Kingsknowe and Wester Hailes, account for less than four per cent of the total. I believe this is a combination of two things. First, there is only an hourly service to these stations with a two-hour gap in the afternoon, the worst on any suburban line and one of the worst urban rail services in the UK. Despite offering fast journey times to the city centre compared to the bus, few people will wait for an hour if they miss their train compared to a bus every ten minutes or less. Surely ScotRail can do better than this?

Second, with tram and bus tickets becoming integrated, why can the suburban trains not be included, allowing at least one leg of the journey to be undertaken by rail?

In London a single travelcard can be bought for all modes of transport and Oyster smartcards can be used on the national rail network. Can Transport for Edinburgh and ScotRail not bang some heads together so that a similar scheme can work here? There is no incentive to use the train if you already have a bus pass – it needs to be transferable.

I hope that someone is listening!

Chris Donnelly, Buckstone Avenue, Edinburgh

Bet on animal health, not the Grand National

four horses died at one of the most important events in the racing calendar, the Cheltenham Festival. This is an attrition rate four times higher than that in racing as a whole, and twice the death rate when only jump racecourses are considered.

For more than a decade, Animal Aid has exposed and protested against the cruelty involved in horse racing. Every year, roughly 200 horses lose their lives on racecourses and around 1000 horses from the racing industry are killed in UK slaughterhouses.

With the Grand National this Saturday, we’d like to remind readers that there is an alternative to supporting such events. Our Sanctuary Not Cruelty initiative invites would-be punters or those who take part in Grand National sweepstakes to send any money they might have bet on the big race to horse sanctuaries instead.

Fiona Pereira, Animal Aid, Bradford Street, Tonbridge