Meanwhile, soft fruit crops will rot in the fields thanks to a shortage of EU seasonal workers. A Fife soft fruit and veg farmer, Iain Brown, said Scotland is falling short of the 10,000 fruit pickers needed to bring in this summer’s crops. Down in England’s new lorry park in Kent, Winterwood Farms has seen applications for seasonal work drop by 90% over the last two years. From the end of June, people who haven’t got pre-settled status can’t work. It’s no good hoping domestic workers will travel long distances to reach the fields, set up camp and engage in physically demanding work in all kinds of weather.
The haulage industry in Scotland has reported a shortage of 11,000 drivers due to Covid, Brexit and recent tax changes, which is hitting the supply of goods to shops and businesses and increasing prices.
The Scottish hospitality industry is reeling from staff shortages after EU nationals left and many domestic workers sought alternative work during the pandemic, forcing many businesses to limit customer numbers that will result in business failures.
Westminster has never cared about Scotland. We can make our own decisions only when we restore our independence. In the meantime, we can pelt rotten fruit at Mr Johnson next time he dares to venture north.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.
THE HARD CASH JUST ISN’T THERE
I AM grateful to Frances McKie (Letters, June 16) for her detailed list of recent Scottish economic and other successes.
UK exports in April 2021 were £49.4 billion and appear to be heading back to their pre-pandemic levels. There is no evidence so far that Brexit is doing any damage, however much flak continues to be aimed at the referendum result. Even the Australians think that a flood of exported meat into the UK is unlikely, so the fears of the Scottish farming community may well be unfounded. I will be buying Scottish beef, lamb and pork from my local butcher regardless. It is good to have a choice though.
How foreign-manufactured wind turbines help Scotland’s fiscal deficit is a calculation I would very much like to see. The 2020 rise in inward investment projects is very welcome. Notice in the latter case that the press around this success fails to mention the monetary value of the investments concerned. Doing so would illustrate how little is its contribution in relation to a pre-pandemic budget deficit in 2019/20 of more than £15bn.
It is indeed ironic that Ms McKie chooses to highlight the growth in UK national debt over the last 10 years. All efforts to contain or even reduce that debt have – unless memory serves me incorrectly – been furiously derided in Scotland as (choose your adjective) “Tory austerity”.
Ms McKie’s closing paragraph sums up the Scottish problem. It is easy to talk up a positive but vague and soft focus vision of Scotland. You can clearly see, though, that the hard cash just isn’t there.
Grant Ballantyne, Paisley.
ENGLISH-ONLY VOTES DO AFFECT US
JILL Stephenson (Letters, June 17) claims that Michael Gove’s proposal to end English Votes for English Laws (Evel) is intended to appease the SNP. Not so for several reasons, of which the most important is Mr Gove (and Boris Johnson’s focus) on a UNITED Kingdom which is now described, for instance, by the Commonwealth as “an island country that sits north-west of mainland Europe. It is made up of mainland Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) and the northern part of the island of Ireland”, when just 12 months ago it consisted of “three countries plus the ‘province’ of NI”. For the UK to become the focus, a law such as Evel is a contradiction and an obstacle to Mr Gove’s ends.
In any event, Evel conceals its own anomalies, as there are some issues which appear to apply only to England, but which have implications for Scotland. For instance, if a motion is put to the House for NHS spending in England only, it may appear that Evel should apply, but this ignores the fact that any spending variation in England will have implications for the Scottish block grant.
Ms Stephenson then goes on to over-generalise wildly, claiming that “English MPs have no input into matters affecting only Scotland” – but with their numerical dominance they have plenty of input into tax, trade policy including the recent agreement with Australia and Brexit, and defence. Indeed, Mr Johnson’s majority in the House of Commons (80) exceeds the number of MPs sitting for Scottish constituencies for any party (59).
She is correct that devolution throws up significant anomalies as Tam Dalyell forecast, but when one part of a political union has the sort of numerical dominance that England enjoys, the democratic deficit for the other constituent parts (OK, Mr Gove, not nations) is substantially more significant.
Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.
COMPARE THE TWO GOVERNMENTS
STRUAN Stevenson (“The SNP Government’s catalogue of mistakes will soon come back to haunt it”, The Herald, June 17) and Guy Stenhouse (“Action, not words, are needed to solve ferries fiasco”, The Herald, June 14) bleat week after week about the shortcomings of the SNP Government. Much of what they say is true, but their writings would have more credibility if they balanced the SNP’s failings with those of the Westminster Government.
Apart from the successful vaccine roll-out, I find it hard to think of any successes of Boris Johnson’s Government. However, like Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, Mr Johnson seems to be in continued favour with his largely English support.
If I can suggest a title for Mr Stevenson’s next epistle, it would be “Compare and contrast the failures of the two governments’’.
Sam Craig, Glasgow G11.
PROOF THE UK IS NOT A NATION
I HAVE tried to be tolerant in the interests of free speech and have regarded the incessant anti-SNP barrage of letters by Dr Gerald Edwards as an amusing distraction from serious debate. It does become a bit tiresome at times and I have to respond today to his assertion (Letters, June 16) that “the need for independence” is in some way linked with the SNP or Brexit. The case for independence is totally linked to the plight of our Scottish nation which has no opportunity to elect a government of its own choice. Neither the actions of the SNP nor the consequences of Brexit will change the situation; only the people of Scotland can rectify this democratic deficit.
Neither Britain nor the UK is a nation and anyone who doubts this should have their doubts dispelled this evening (June 18).
Willie Maclean, Milngavie.
DO NEW LAW OFFICERS BACK INDY?
THE Scottish Parliament has backed a motion seeking agreement to recommend to the Queen that Dorothy Bain QC and Ruth Charteris QC be appointed the new Scottish law officers; respectively lord advocate and solicitor general. Were both candidates asked for their opinions about the legal status of an independence referendum held without the consent of the Prime Minister? I’m sure both will have been asked, and surely both will have given an affirmative answer? Would they have been chosen otherwise? However, neither question nor answers will be acknowledged; we can expect evasion and fudge of a high order.
Another current item of legal news is the recent death, on May 31, of James Crawford, Professor Emeritus of International Law at the University of Cambridge. Prof Crawford was scathing about the Scottish Government’s claim that an independent Scotland would remain a member of such international organisations as the UN and the IMF. He claimed that the “overwhelming weight” of precedence pointed to Scotland being treated as a new state; meaning having to renegotiate some 14,000 separate treaties and applying afresh to join international bodies. Professor Crawford’s opinion does not die with him.
William Durward, Bearsden.
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