Letters – week 12

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90th birthday thanks

Sir,

This is a short note of thanks to all who made my 90th birthday party at Chalmers Court such a success.

I did not help a great deal by having a bad fall near the bus stop on my way for the morning papers and am lucky not to have broken bones. A bruised and battered face caused alarm on first viewing which gave way to quite a lot of laughter and bold comment.

But what a delightful party, laid on by our warden Sheena Stewart and ladies and saw we all had tea, coffee, and home baking, including shortbread and scones (butter and jam – yummy) and presents of wine and malt whiskey. What a lovely morning.

To all who sent cards for my 90th, including the community council, the Wednesday Club, the Inveraray Highland Games (of which I’m a former convener and strong supporter), my warmest thanks. And many thanks to those who helped me up after my fall and in particular Stuart Campbell of Brambles who took me to the surgery, whose very kind people cleaned me up and sent me on my way to my party half an hour later.

And a mention to Take the Floor too on Radio Scotland on Saturday night. Thank you Inveraray and District Accordion and Fiddle Club and Margaret Mather our secretary for this request.

So I won’t forget my 90th in a hurry, but such kindness and friendliness cannot be forgotten ever.

My thanks to you all,

Niall Iain MacLean, Inveraray

McCrone report

Sir,

I read with great interest the letter in the March 8 edition of the Argyllshire Advertiser from C Rees, Lochgilphead.

In addition to all that was mentioned I wonder if your readers are acquainted with the McCrone Report which was written in the 1970s?

As I’m sure your readers are aware this was when oil had just started flowing from the North Sea. Mr Gavin McCrone was, at that time, a civil servant instructed to write a report on the possible effects of North Sea Oil on the argument for Scotland’s devolution.

This quote comes from a letter written, by Mr McCrone, in April 1975: ‘The Paper was written over a year ago in the weeks immediately before the February 1974 election. This will be particularly apparent on page 5 where, of course, the ministerial pronouncements referred to relate to the Conservative Government.’

So he was instructed to write this report by a Conservative Government but was reporting to a Labour Government.

This quote comes from the end of the letter: ‘When my paper was written it was classified “secret” and given only a most restricted circulation in the Scottish Office because of the extreme sensitivity of the subject.’

The report discussed the possibility of Scottish Independence and came to the conclusion: ‘What is quite clear is that the balance of payments gain from North Sea oil would easily swamp the existing deficit whatever its size and transform Scotland into a country with a substantial and chronic surplus.’

Now, this is a very tiny segment from a document that could have changed our history but that’s in the past and we must now look to the future.

What is upsetting is that if this wealth had been invested in an oil fund or more fairly distributed by the  British Government – either Conservative or Labour – there might not, now, be an upsurge in support for separation from Westminster.

Wilma Watts, Tarbert

Brexit

Sir,

With Theresa May’s Brexit deal yet again failing to get through the House of Commons and a delay to the date the UK is due to leave the EU, it is clear that we are simply lurching from crisis to crisis.

One wonders what good an extension will actually do given the negotiating position of both the EU and the UK. The UK is deadlocked, in terms of its people, Parliament and Cabinet and the likelihood of any semblance of a deal that command the majority of the House of Commons is unlikely. This is especially true given the deep divisions within the Tories, both Remainers and Leavers, as well as opposition from the DUP.

Given this situation those like myself have long argued that a UK-wide referendum on the deal, a so-called ‘People’s Vote’, with the option to remain in the EU, is the only credible way to break this deadlock. For those who argue that this would damage our democratic process, I am not sure we can slump any lower than the situation we are currently in.

As David Davis, the former Brexit Secretary and an ardent Leaver, pointed out before the EU referendum: ‘If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.’

There are few I know who voted for Brexit in the belief it would make them poorer, and it is up to the public to give its view on whether the deal, and more importantly its implications, are what it wants.

For once I agree with Jacob Rees-Mogg who previously supported a vote on the renegotiated settlement. A statement he now curiously seems to have forgotten.

The Scottish Parliament has led the way in backing a People’s Vote and now that we know the precise nature of the deal, it is up to the public to have its say.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh