LETTERS: Time for our political class to devise bold plan

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During the 2014 independence campaign I led over 100 ‘Better Together’ volunteers in an area of Edinburgh which stretched from Shandon to The Inch.

Over that summer each volunteer I trained was told that our message was that a No vote was about securing more powers for Holyrood. This was the vow we made on thousands of doorsteps.

Eighteen months later it is now clear that that vow has been delivered, with the negotiations on the Fiscal Framework reaching a successful conclusion.

As John Swinney said on BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday “the Smith Commission report has been delivered” and as Nicola Sturgeon said in Holyrood “this deal will ensure that funding for Scotland will not be changed without the Scottish Government’s agreement”. This is what Scotland voted for in 2014.

As the party of government, it fell to the SNP to ensure that more powers were delivered while ensuring ‘not a penny’ is taken from the Scottish Government’s budget.

The SNP’s role is ironic given the financial ruin that would have come with their preferred referendum outcome. An outcome which no independent fiscal analysis has shown would be in Scotland’s interests.

We cannot, however, let more powers and fiscal agreements be the end point of Scotland’s political enlightenment. The SNP have shown themselves to be a timid government, happy to tinker at the edges of the problems Scotland faces and manage gradual decline.

It’s now time for the political class in Scotland to put their constitutional differences aside and draw up bold plans for Scotland’s future.

Let’s talk less about the 1707 Act of Union and more about using Holyrood’s newly won powers to ensure health, education and welfare in Scotland is fit for the 21st century.

Dr Scott Arthur, Buckstone Gardens, Edinburgh

Compromise plan for fire station museum

I fully support June Fleming’s plea to have the fire station museum retained at its present site (Letters, February 24).

However, the substantial building it occupies is clearly a valuable piece of real estate and there is obvious intention to raise a substantial sum for it.

Having recently visited the museum it’s clear that it is the combination of its contents and the purpose-built ground floor that makes it an ‘historical gem’.

Can I, therefore, suggest that the building is indeed sold, other than the ground floor, this being separated off to allow the museum to be retained entirely as it is. I can see no structural reason why this could not be achieved.

Ian Hardie, Comiston Drive, Edinburgh

Alex Salmond is a loyal servant of Scotland

Jenny Gray’s ill-informed attack on Alex Salmond (Letters, February 24) should not go unchallenged.

The first person to court Donald Trump was Labour’s Jack McConnell who flew to New York to help facilitate the proposed golf course and made Trump a global ambassador for Scotland in 2006.

Planning consent for the Trump Golf Course was granted by the independent chief planning officer, not Alex Salmond.

It was McConnell who nominated Fred Goodwin for a knighthood and Labour Chancellor Alastair Darling retained Fred Goodwin as one of his financial advisers during the fatal ABN Amro deal and for months after the collapse of the Royal Bank.

Labour and Tory leaders, but no one from the SNP, enjoyed champagne and oysters at Murdoch’s News International summer party after the phone hacking scandal came to light.

As First Minister Alex Salmond did a fantastic job promoting Scotland on the world stage. Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Corporation employs thousands in Scotland and American golf tourists are worth millions to the Scottish economy.

At Westminster Alex Salmond has spoken in 56 debates in the last year — well above average among MPs.

In December he was part of the Scottish parliamentary delegation to Iran where he discussed international trade, nuclear disarmament and human rights issues. He only receives one third of his MSP salary and this is donated to a charitable trust.

A political giant who transformed the fortunes of the SNP. That’s why he upsets the likes of Jenny Gray.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh

Brexit’s North Korean model of sovereignty

The argument by Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Michael Gove and fellow ‘Brexiters’ that our independence from the EU will see our full sovereignty restored is naïve in the extreme.

It is not a case of being sovereign or not, as this concept is relative. If one refuses to pool sovereignty a country in fact has potentially less sovereignty as it has limited control over trading arrangements, pollution, the cleanliness of its seas, migration or terrorism.

The UK is already subject to some 700 international treaties and member of a number of international organisations. As a member of the UN, WTO, NATO and the IMF for example, we share our sovereignty, infringing on our national self-determination. But through this approach we have influence and maximise our effectiveness.

Many ‘Brexiters’ see the Norwegian model as one they would like to go down, but Oslo has to adhere to all the EU’s product standards, financial regulations and employment rules, enacting 75 per cent of EU legislative acts.

A UK choosing this track would, in other words, keep paying, accept rules from Brussels without having any influence on them, and would remain committed to free movement.

For those wanting true, full sovereignty there is only one nation that I can think of that is truly sovereign, and that is North Korea.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh