The Spectator

Letters: Why do we need beavers?

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It’s not about money

Sir: Professor Tombs criticises Alex Massie (Letters, 22 August) for ignoring evidence when the latter claims that economic concerns ‘no longer matter’ in great political decisions. But the evidence from the last Scottish referendum tends to support Massie. At the beginning of the Scottish referendum campaign in 2014, polls showed 26 per cent of Scottish voters favoured independence. The Better Together campaign amassed compelling evidence that independence would be a financial disaster and set about presenting this to the Scottish public in an exercise they christened Project Fear. The result was a rise of support for independence to 45 per cent, and it is widely considered that what kept Scotland in the Union was an emotional televised speech by Gordon Brown appealing to the heart rather than the pocket.

Before the Brexit vote, many experts predicted immediate financial disaster if Britain voted to leave the EU. We have still to find out the long-term effect of this decision, but their short-term predictions were clearly wrong. What seems to have swayed the public to vote for Brexit was the desire for the UK to have control over its own affairs, not to become wealthier. Many Scots are similarly motivated and it will not be enough simply to argue that Scotland’s economy has become so weakened within the Union that there is no alternative but to keep on taking the same medicine.

Ian McKee

Too eager for beavers

Sir: Simon Cooper is quite right (‘Dam nation’, 22 August). Why do we need beavers? Beaver lovers are the same kind of irresponsible zealots who tried and failed (for now) to release lynx in Northumberland and are deaf to the concerns of country people.

Beavers are big aquatic rats that died out 500 years ago in England for the simple reason that we and they cannot co-exist in the peopled landscape that is England.

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