DOUGLAS Ross advises against voting in any referendum not authorised by the UK Government (“Ross calls on unionists to ignore any ‘wildcat’ independence vote”, The , January 26), but if an Act of the Scottish Parliament is challenged and authorised by the courts (Scottish or Supreme), it would become a legal referendum, and would be recognised internationally.
Mr Ross’s assertion that only the UK Government (not the Westminster Parliament, note) can legitimise any Scottish plebiscite gives that body a permanent veto over Scottish democratic change, and is surely wrong in a cardinal principle of international law(the right to self-determination of a people). When Boris Johnson makes his journey to Scotland this week, could Mr Ross ask if Mr Johnson would obey the will of the courts in this matter?
GR Weir, Ochiltree.
JOHNSON SHOULD STAY AT HOME
AS I am currently not allowed to travel 12 miles to visit my daughter in Falkirk, I regret I cannot turn out to jeer, sorry cheer, the arrival of our beloved Boris Johnson to Scotland. Truly, it is hard to understand how the Prime Minister, who should be leading by example, can justify a journey of 400 miles when the advice given to the rest of us is to stay at home except for essential purposes; is he checking his eyesight, or what?
Clearly, Mr Johnson has seen the 20 consecutive opinion polls showing a majority in favour of independence and his own party languishing with just over three months to go before the Scottish Parliament elections. But does Mr Johnson really believe that his illegal visit to Scotland will do anything other than further irritate a population living under travel restrictions and entrench their contempt for the Prime Minister they did not elect?
In taking Scotland out of the EU Mr Johnson set the scene for Scotland to take its future out of Westminster’s hands. A panic visit to Scotland during the pandemic won’t change that; Mr Johnson should stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.
Ruth Marr, Stirling.
LET’S FIX THE UNION
A PRO-DEVOLUTION and anti-Brexit voter, I was cheered by Guy Stenhouse’s article (“Scotland gains from being part of United Kingdom, The , January 25) and Mark Smith’s column regarding the inability of certain nationalists to tolerate disagreement (“Douglas Ross is irritated by a certain type of voter… I know how he feels”, The , January 25). I concur with Kevin McKenna (“A Plan B for independence… so why has it taken six years?”, The , January 25) and the Sunday Times analysis of recent polls which suggests “that perceptions of the character and substance of Boris Johnson are largely to blame” for the majority support for independence.
Mr Johnson is an incompetent caricature whereas Nicola Sturgeon is an excellent communicator, but this is not reason enough for independence; nor is independence from the UK the answer to Scotland’s problems, far from it. The Union is broke, let’s fix it.
Joanna Mitchell, Doune.
BARD WAS A FLAWED GENIUS
I REFER to Alison Rowat’s article on observations recently made on the life and work of Robert Burns (“Sturgeon adds to the heat over Burns”, The , January 26).There has been much debate and discussion over the years, which I have no doubt will continue, about Burns and his behaviour toward women. I believe that Hugh Douglas in his book Robert Burns: The Tinder Heart described it well when he said that he had “examined Robert Burns’ relationships with women, not just to show that he was a bit of a lecher, seducer, a Don Juan, Casanova, rake, roué, fornicator, and womaniser – which he was – but to demonstrate the love and humanity that beat in his ardent heart, and discover the poetry and song which resulted therefrom”.
The First Minister floated the idea “light-heartedly” of changing the title of A Man’s a Man for A’ That to A Person’s a Person. That was not one of her more inspired ideas. However, she also observed that “he was a flawed genius. But first and foremost he was a genius”. Many of us, excluding Jeremy Paxman for one, would, I think, go along with that.
Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.
CAUTION IN THE TALE
OUR First Minister might wish to reflect that the Burns ode she quoted to barb the Prime Minister also contains the cautionary immortal lines:
“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain
For promis’d joy.”
Harry Magee, Glasgow G11.
FRASER Patrick (Letters, January 26) used the term “Rabbie” in his introduction.
As an Ayrshireman and a keen scholar of Robert Burns I have to tell him that had he met the poet and called him that derogatory name he might have had his headlights punched out, to use a modern idiom. In Burns’s time in Ayrshire the term Rabbie was used to describe “the village idiot”.
Sir Brian Donohoe, Irvine.
BRIDGERTON TOO FAR
YOU report that the writer of the television series Bridgerton did not intend it to be regarded as a history lesson (“Hit TV show ‘not meant to be history lesson’”, The , January 26). I think this became pretty clear when we were shown a version of the Regency period in which singers performed the Barcarolle by Offenbach and ball guests birled to a waltz by Shostakovitch.
Derrick McClure, Aberdeen AB24.