FEW Tory MPs will have hoed a drill of turnips or clipped a sheep – they prefer shooting grouse. In the 1970s, along with colleagues in the Scottish NFU I helped secure a £30 million Agricultural Development Programme for the Highlands and Islands funded by the EU. In conversation with PM Margaret Thatcher I mentioned safegarding biodiversity. “It’s not cost-effective,” she snapped. Dennis T caught my elbow: “When are you sheep farming chaps going to do something about the sheep tick problem? It’s reducing our grouse population.” I wrote them off as a pair of “wannabes”.

Tax haven arrangements and the EU’s tendency to be the small farmer’s friend are two reason behind Brexit. Tory philosophy has always been buy food from overseas, no matter the standards of production, and sell them weapons, high-tech equipment and consumer goods in exchange. “It helps my share portfolio and pays for the hounds.”

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Let us hope that an independent Scottish Parliament will contain some practical MPs who value the feel of a spade. 1.5C global warming is a truly dangerous figure and it’s now in sight. Come on Scotland, time is short. Westminster out. Do it. 40 years hence, worldwide food production as we currently know it will come under extreme climate pressure. This overriding factor and how we tackle it should top the agenda during the current SNP leadership contest. I remember ration books.

Iain R Thomson

IN a well-argued letter on Wednesday, Campbell Anderson put the case for independence being based on a very substantial majority in favour. There are other ways of looking at it.

We have already passed the “Thatcher threshold” and have a Scottish majority in the Westminster parliament as well as a pro-independence majority at home. If a new First Minister was selected who considered this sufficient grounds to start the process of separation, why not now?

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While the corrupt press and media, the UK Government and the pro-Union part of Scottish society continue to thrive on a diet of lies and self-delusion, it is not likely that a large majority would be achieved. On the other hand, even on a few percent threshold, the Scottish Unionists would soon understand the savings in the huge expense involved in the UK rule – parliament, the Lords, royalty, military, big banking and business etc – and notice the enormous benefits that would accrue from keeping our own financial, natural and human resources and being able to form our own alliances.

We must have faith in the sound arguments which we have rehearsed for years and must put things into force immediately to ensure a green future.

Iain WD Forde

I WRITE to share the concerns Douglas Morton of Lanark expressed in his letter of March 8 in The National regarding the overlap of church and state in Scotland. The problem hinges largely on the fact that we don’t have a written constitution such as those in modern democracies like France and America. Their processes began three centuries ago. In recent decades politicians have held out promises to address the matter in the run-up to elections but the subject vanished as soon as the election was over. (Remember Tony Blair?)

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In the run-up to the election for First Minister, here it is interesting to note that one candidate has not said anything at all on the subject (separation of church and state) while another has shown his allegiances by being elsewhere when a vote was taken in his parliament and another has been seen to be quite capable of separating church and state in their duties and demonstrating this in both word and deed. This is a refreshing breath of fresh air in a political scene which, in many areas, reeks to the high heaven of corruption.

RG Clark

I READ with interest WJ Graham’s excellent letter in Wednesday’s edition, and can argue with none of his points.

As always, however, any mention of John Knox and 1560 fails to add this truth – that the reformers allied themselves with England from the start and managed to “free” themselves from Rome but at a huge cost to Scotland as an independent nation. Knox was an anglophile, and was hugely responsible, along with his followers, for sowing the seeds of an English takeover, and for what? Calvinism?

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The implication that the reformers were somehow just Scots seeking freedom from the Roman church rings very hollow indeed when you look at their alliance with England, in essence sowing the seed that eventually bore fruit in the Union.

If you want to know why we are where we are today – living in a country ruled by a powerful neighbour and intimidated by the Orange Order and their sly Tory admirers – look no further than that Scottish hero Knox who started it all.

Jim Butchart
via email