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Letter of the Week: A Vulnerable State

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By New Statesman

Andrew Marr (Cover Story, 29 April) is right that Ukraine and Trident may give some Scots who are undecided on independence pause for thought. But they should also consider that on a number of fronts, all attributable to Brexit and the actions of this Conservative government, we are immeasurably less secure than we used to be in Scotland and across the UK.

We are less economically secure and risk being less food secure if we continue to undermine our farmers. We have needlessly created barriers, and forfeited the leadership we used to enjoy within the EU on issues such as counter-terrorism and fighting crime. Northern Ireland has been destabilised. Our society is divided like never before, with more people sliding into energy- and food-poverty. Our democracy and civil liberties are under concerted attack from our own government. Added to this, we have a prime minister who, though his lying, irresponsibility and lack of transparency, is a national security liability. There’s more to security than the nuclear deterrent.

Richard Haviland, Drumnadrochit, Inverness-shire

Mixed signals

David Forbes (Correspondence, 6 May) writes: “An independent Scotland would… for moral… reasons, have no nuclear weapons.” David McCarthy writes: “Nuclear weapons are a straightforward issue for Sturgeon… non-negotiable for the SNP.”

Buried on page 465 of Scotland’s Future, produced in 2014 by the Scottish government to support the SNP’s case in the independence referendum, is this: “Norway and Denmark allow Nato vessels to visit their ports without confirming or denying whether they carry nuclear weapons. We intend that Scotland will adopt a similar approach.”

So, how principled and straightforward is the SNP objection to nuclear weapons?

John McShane, Glasgow

Overlooking Labour

“Left conservatism” is defined in the Leader (6 May) as “a more economically interventionist state and improved public services as well as policies that encourage social cohesion”. Surely, Labour’s policies “for the many not the few” do this, whereas the “levelling-up” agenda fails on all counts?

Priscilla Alderson, University College London

Bobby dazzler

Hunter Davies is churlish in dismissing Bobby Charlton as a mere “functionary” (The Fan, 6 May). I presume that he didn’t see much of Charlton in his heyday. I did and a greater player I have never seen. If his demeanour was serious perhaps that was because he lost so many teammates in the 1958 Munich air crash. For years afterwards he kept Manchester United’s head above water, until it became the leading club of the Sixties. To witness the power and style of his play over 15 years was a privilege.

David Burgess, Little Bardfield, Essex

Cricket on the back foot

I agreed with Peter Wilby’s review of the latest Wisden (The Critics, 6 May). Racism is English cricket’s big problem. Michael Carberry should have played 25 to 35 Tests, and I could cite many other black players over the past 35 years who should have played more for England. But not everything is bad. Wilby admitted to not following women’s cricket. If he did, he would acknowledge the emerging talents of Sophia Dunkley and Sophie Ecclestone, who fared well in the recent World Cup. The thousands of volunteers who keep the game going should also not be forgotten.

David Rimmer, Hertford Heath, Herts

What’s in a name?

I was very interested by Rachel Cunliffe’s article about surnames (Out of the Ordinary, 8 April). I married in 1985 and never considered changing my name. Our daughters took their father’s name at birth but later changed to mine, with our full agreement, because they preferred it. This was a straightforward procedure under a “statutory declaration”. I have also never had any problem at airports, provided you all have valid passports!

Dr Catherine Harkness (still), Monks Kirby, Warks

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This article appears in the 11 May 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Stalling Starmer