Letters: Union’s good for Scotland, Scotland’s good for Union

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CHARMAINE LAMONT, (Letters, January 31), is unrealistically critical of our 300-year Union, stating that the UK government has for centuries cared little about us.

The benefits to Scotland are as long as the Union itself, starting with England rescuing Scotland from the financial disaster caused by the Darien Venture in 1700.

Scotland played a conspicuous role in a successful union, punching above her weight in the industrial revolution, running the empire and in the great offices of state.

There have been continual benefits to Scotland, including the creation of Enterprise Zones and the transfer of civil service jobs from London to Glasgow. More recently, several major Scottish banks were rescued from collapse due to the worldwide banking crisis in 2008.

Most importantly, the UK government encouraged the establishment of the current Scottish Parliament. While initially the devolved powers related to areas with a unique Scottish dimension, such as the law and education, more powers have been progressively devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

This ability of the UK to gradually and peacefully evolve is something which is admired by the rest of the world and of which we can all be proud.

John Higinbotham, Bruntsfield Gardens, Edinburgh

Low teacher numbers are cause for concern

As a coalition whose members deliver specialist care and education services for children and young people with complex needs, we are deeply concerned by the latest Scottish Government figures which highlight that teacher numbers in Scotland continue to fall, down to 50,824 in 2014 from 51,078 in 2013 and 51,253 in 2012.

In addition, the numbers of those in Scotland identified as having additional support needs (ASN) continues to rise, now standing at 140,542.

This reduction in teacher numbers and increase in those with ASN is set against a backdrop of continued funding cuts to vital children’s services across local authorities. That is why we have written to all local authority chief executives and council leaders, urging them to protect these services as they set next year’s budgets.

Cutting already diminished resources is simply not an option and we would urge local authorities to protect services for children and young people, and act urgently on this clear need to boost teacher numbers. A society is judged on how it treats its most vulnerable citizens and at present we are in danger of creating a lost generation whose cost to society will far outweigh any public sector cuts should services to them be reduced.

Catherine McWilliam, The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition

Thought for the Day is an outdated feature

It used to be a familiar sight to read the moral opinions of spokesmen from both the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland under news stories.

Rev Bill Wallace as convener of the Board of Social Responsibility used to regale us with such classics as “genital sexual acts should be within the marriage bond and nowhere else” while Monsignor Tom Connelly – waspishly labelled the ‘Sexfinder General’ among readers of ScotsGay magazine – dealt his two penn’th worth declaring that “the adult world is obsessed with sex” adding that it was our responsibility to ensure children were not allowed to “lose the innocence of youth”.

Connelly’s blasting Cadbury’s square Easter egg as “shades of a new dark age” and the Catholic Church’s cover-up of the world’s largest paedophile ring hastened their demise as moral arbiters while the Anglican Church’s investments in money-lenders, extensive property portfolios and receipt of lottery rewards while lecturing the rest of us on the excesses of consumerism brought about theirs.

We now know that an individual’s opinions are earned on merit, not religion.

So how long is our state broadcaster, the BBC, going to keep interrupting the morning news with Thought for the Day, set aside for the exclusive moral opinions on the news by the religious?

Garry Otton, Secretary, Scottish Secular Society