Scottish hearts and heads
Sir: Alex Massie ignores the evidence when he espouses the assumption that economic concerns no longer matter in great political decisions (‘Scottish horror’, 15 August). Compare, as he does, a future Scottish referendum with the 2016 Brexit vote. Then, around two thirds of the British electorate held ‘Eurosceptic views’ (so Sir John Curtice of Strathclyde University tells us). But the barest majority voted to Leave. The cause is plain: the largest single motive for Remain voters was that ‘the risks of voting to leave the EU looked too great when it came to things like the economy, jobs and prices’. A Eurosceptic two thirds was whittled down by ‘hearts vs heads’ considerations. The residents of Scotland would have to be uniquely indifferent to their future livelihoods to ignore the economic costs of separation. If and when two thirds say they want independence, it becomes more serious.
But if Mr Massie is right, and another referendum is inevitable, who should decide? Scottish nationalists’ claims are based, by definition, on the fact that Scotland is a nation, not merely a region like East Anglia or Greater Manchester. Scots do not forfeit their national identity by living in other parts of the United Kingdom. All UK citizens born in Scotland, and perhaps whose parents were born in Scotland, should surely vote if there is another referendum.
It’s not over
Sir: We would like to express our dismay at the defeatist tone of Alex Massie’s article last week. While we agree with his analysis that next year’s Holyrood election will be critical for the Union — an election we have named ‘the Battle for Britain’ — we disagree with his belief that the SNP is likely to win it. The SNP’s current poll lead is caused by a failure to hold Nicola Sturgeon to account by both the Scottish opposition parties and the media. We call on the British media to stop undermining the Union by using Nicola Sturgeon as a rod with which to beat the Brexit government, and to focus instead on the SNP’s deplorable record in government and their extreme intolerance. We would also like to call on the Scottish Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats — the so-called Cowdenbeath parties — to work together with the Alliance for Unity to translate the silent, anti-nationalist majority into a majority of seats at Holyrood, as the opposition to Orbán is now doing in Hungary. The only obstacle to removing Nicola Sturgeon from power next May is their inflexibility.
George Galloway and Jamie Blackett
The Alliance for Unity, Ayr, Scotland
Big wedding joy
Sir: While agreeing with Mary Wakefield as she laments the passing of weddings as large social gatherings (‘There’s nothing “wild” about elopement’, 15 August), I would go one step further. Never the mind the dancing in the evening. Whatever happened to the glorified champagne party where simply everyone was invited? It was often used as a way of entertaining those locally who might not have been invited to the house in the normal way. This added hugely to the gaiety of nations, as people from wildly different backgrounds got carried away, and quite often carried off, as proceedings began to veer off-piste.
I remember attending one reception where there were a thousand guests. There was ample opportunity to meet all and sundry as there was no dinner with a placement to interrupt things. Now, those older are lucky to attend one wedding every other year, as the guest list (in the absence of an ‘elopement’) is restricted almost entirely to the young. Wining and dining and dancing a crowd doesn’t come cheap, whoever is paying.
Trinity of tedium
Sir: It is my pleasure to read selected articles from The Spectatorto my wife during elevenses. A favourite section is always the Letters page, where I first announce the title of the letter followed by the correspondent’s name and address. With unfamiliar locations, I usually break off to interrogate Google Assistant about the place, which often throws up some interesting facts. The other week (Letters, 8 August), for example, we discovered that the Museum of British Surfing is located in Braunton, Devon (‘Restore playing fields’, Mike Gross). However, the thing that amused us most was finding that the Scottish village of Dull in Perth and Kinross (where Deirdre Wyllie lives), is locked in a trinity of tedium with the American towns of Boring, Oregon, and Bland, Virginia.
Dr Andrew Mason
Norton, Bury St Edmunds
Sir: Mark Honigsbaum’s article on animal viruses (‘Off the bat’, 15 August) was very instructive. If, as he says, bats make up a fifth of mammal species on our planet and that they potentially harbour 13,000 coronaviruses then why do we protect them? Are we batty?
A proper Vesper
Sir: While I appreciate Joanna Lumley’s tip for saving money on seeds, I feel I must correct her on her recipe for a Vesper martini (Actress’s notebook, 8 August). Her proportions are correct but sadly Kina Lillet is no longer bottled. The late and brilliant barman Dick Bradsell, inventor of the Bramble, the Treacle, and the Vodka Espresso, once made me a Vesper and told me that to recreate Kina Lillet you had to add a drop and half of Angostura bitters to the half measure of Lillet Blanc (Kina Lillet’s replacement). Half a drop was an interesting thing, involving a straw.
The French House, London W1
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