SIR – According to government figures, in the current financial year Scotland will be spending £129 per person for every £100 spent in England. The Barnett formula will result in about £38 billion going from English taxpayers to the Scottish government.
It is difficult to see how promises of billions of pounds of investment to provide a faster rail link from Glasgow to London (report, May 2) will sway Scottish voters. Such money might be better spent providing free social care at home and undergraduate tuition in England – benefits Scots already enjoy.
Rather than wooing Scotland with money we cannot afford, perhaps Boris Johnson could offer the SNP, should it win the coming elections, a trial period of self-funding. How long would Scots wait before deciding they were better off in the Union?
SIR – Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP want another referendum on Scottish independence, which would affect the entire UK population. The PM shouldn’t waste his time negotiating handouts, but should instead tell the SNP leader: “Yes, provided the referendum covers the whole of the UK, including dependencies and ex-pats, that results are binding and that the SNP foots the bill, including incidentals such as publicity, for the whole exercise.” This should settle the argument as to whether the Scots need the English or vice versa.
SIR – Surely there are enough good reasons to keep the Union without resorting to bribery?
SIR – Nicola Sturgeon seems to take it for granted that Scotland would leave the United Kingdom and immediately join the European Union, without any intervening period of independence.
What has Ms Sturgeon been told by the EU about a probationary period, for example, or using the euro? What about border controls with England?
Surely we need some answers before the elections.
Keighley, West Yorkshire
Watch: Elections 2021 - Scottish voters less enthusiastic about independence referendum in next 5 years - Sky News poll
SIR – When Scotland is independent and broke, who will Ms Sturgeon complain to?
SIR – Has anyone stopped to consider the enormous danger that an independent Scotland would create?
Scotland has more than 6,000 miles of mainland coastline, much of which is uninhabited and difficult to defend.
It is also home to the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent, which guarantees our safety as a nation.
In an increasingly unstable and uncertain world, it would be an act of suicide to separate Scotland, both for the Scots and for the UK as a whole.
East Kilbride, Lanarkshire
SIR – Regarding the deal to secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (report, May 3), who cares if we lose face? For heaven’s sake let’s cough up and get the poor woman home.
Lowry’s likely match
SIR – Having studied the photograph of Lowry’s Going to the Match (report, May 1), I am persuaded that the painting represents crowds going to see Swinton rugby league team, which was the artist’s home team. Lowry lived in Station Road, Swinton (not Salford), from 1909, and his house faced Swinton rugby ground. The mill in the background reminds me of the Acme Mill in Swinton, and the church in the far distance looks like St Peter’s, Swinton.
Descriptions of the painting have suggested that it represents supporters going to a rugby match in Salford. However, Salford rugby league team played at the Willows ground, Salford, which by the 1920s was surrounded by terrace houses, not mills.
I realise that Lowry’s painting are often composites – part real and part imaginary – but I think there is a strong case that this painting relates to Swinton, not Salford.
Dr Elizabeth Oliver
SIR – As I am also in the throes of moving house, I have a great deal of sympathy with Jane Shilling’s dilemma (“Has the time come to discard the baggage of my past?”, Comment, May 3).
I do not find thinning out shoes and books to be a problem, but I have yet to fathom why I simply can’t bring myself to throw away my 21st birthday cards, which I was given more than four decades ago.
Don’t forget Flossie
SIR – In my family research, I’ve often been frustrated by honest but inadequate labelling (Letters, May 3).
Among a batch of photos of cousins, received from a relative, was one of four adults with the caption: “Here we all are, with Flossie the dog.”
So I know the dog’s name, but who are all of you?
The sender didn’t know either.
SIR – Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has asked for statistics on how many people with “terminal” conditions kill themselves (report, May 1). However, it is unclear how this will “inform a new debate on legalising doctor-assisted suicide in the UK”.
Whatever the number, how do we know whether that condition was the reason they took their own life or, if it was, whether they did so while depressed and would not have killed themselves given support from mental health or palliative care services?
Also, why has he not asked for statistics on how many people kill themselves who are “losing autonomy”, or are “less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable”, the two main reasons for physician-assisted suicide in Oregon, the state on which British campaigners model their bills?
Then there are those who feel a “burden on family, friends or caregivers”, a reason for almost half. Inadequate pain control is way down the list. Indeed, the Oregon law does not require that the patient be suffering any pain at all.
Statistics have their place, but they are no substitute for sound ethics. If you want the right answers it helps to ask the right questions.
Professor John Keown
Kennedy Institute of Ethics
Georgetown University, Washington
UK chip manufacture
SIR – The idea that Britain should seize a greater market share of the chip manufacturing industry (report, May 1), through government investment in freeports, an innovation centre and a fact-finding mission to world-leading industries in Taiwan, is risible.
Britain has failed to establish a world-leading chip manufacturing capability in spite of government investments in various initiatives over the past 60 years. As a consequence, unlike Far Eastern countries, we now have diminished skill sets in the complex engineering processes required to produce silicon chips for mass markets. This is in direct contrast to our world-leading pharmaceutical industry, and its associated chemical and biological capabilities required to produce vaccines. Scientific and technological capabilities have to be nurtured and cannot simply be switched on by government.
Fortunately, Britain has continued to develop a world-leading capability in the important segment of chip design through Arm (Advanced RISC Machines) and other companies that do not manufacture anything. We must play to our strengths.
Dr Keith G Barraclough
Jabs of joy
SIR – I am one of the 15 million people in Britain to have received a second Covid-19 vaccination.
The superb organisation I have witnessed must be recognised, with heartfelt thanks to the manufacturers, the NHS, the Army for distributing the vaccine and also to the thousands of volunteers who have made things work so smoothly.
Watch: Minister urges people not to book summer holidays yet
SIR – While I agree with James Atkins (Letters, May 1) that it would be sad if we became a two-tier society of the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, I can’t see any logical reason why the elderly should remain restricted.
SIR – I will miss having an acceptable excuse for refusing to hug people.
A little princess with a look of her grandmother
SIR – The charming birthday photograph of Princess Charlotte reminded me of a picture of Princess Diana, her grandmother, who wore a dress in what looked like very similar material when she visited some Aids patients while on a visit to Brazil about 30 years ago.
Great Bookham, Surrey
‘Wokespeare’ fails to do justice to the language
SIR – Gregory Doran of the Royal Shakespeare Company (Letters, May 1) misses the point: if Shakespeare is not ultimately about the language, why is it being staged?
An RSC production of Romeo and Juliet I saw at the Barbican seemed solely intent on parading race, regional and gender diversity. This was at the expense of the actual words, which were muttered, spat or snarled in such a way as to be almost unintelligible for much of the play – for which the seats cost £50 or more. If we can’t even trust the RSC to maintain the highest standard of spoken English, serious live theatre is doomed.
Jonathan G N King
Little Shelford, Cambridgeshire
SIR – The RSC is quite correct – a deaf actor has the right to perform in The Winter’s Tale using sign language. And we have the right to stay away. That’s the glorious thing: we’re a free country.
SIR – Shakespeare’s play is titled The Winter’s Tale. If, for whatever reason, large sections of the narrative are incomprehensible, the audience is literally not getting the full story.
Hepworth, West Yorkshire
SIR – Greg Doran’s aim to cast Shakespeare using “the amazing diversity of talent across the UK” may be admirable, but he should be aware that these diverse decisions have been problematic in some RSC productions.
While colour and gender-blind casting may work in theory, in practice it can cause confusion and dissatisfaction for the audience. Many regular visitors to the RSC, myself included, have been dismayed by the growing tendency to pack in as much diverse casting as possible, whether or not it is appropriate for the role.
What used to be an enjoyable experience to see and hear Shakespeare has become ever more disappointing as the increase in “woke” productions continues, making people more reluctant to book seats.
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