WHILE Nicola Sturgeon and her Government indulge themselves in public pronunciations on macro economics, I have experienced at first hand normal life in her Scotland.
Within the last two weeks, a little toerag threw a stone at my window. Fortunately it did not break but I thought it right to report the incident and, not being an emergency, I used the 101 number to be told by recorded message that it would take 15 minutes to answer. I duly waited that time but eventually hung up. Forbid it was not a more serious incident, but it was an anti-social incident now not recorded.
In conversation with friends, it appears mine was not a unique experience. Furthermore, before Police Scotland came into being, I could call my local police station and was always answered.
Within the same period, an elderly relative was sadly admitted to Glasgow Royal Infirmary (original building). Of the two public lifts, only one was working and staff advised the other had been out of order for about a month. This week, the remaining lift packed up and was put out of use. Anyone who is familiar with the building will know what an inconvenience this is; particularly for elderly and infirm people.
While I listen to Nicola Sturgeon’s protestations about not being able to have further borrowing powers and how to manage the cost of living and energy crisis, I cannot help but think Westminster has nothing to do with my experiences and both are 100 per cent within her field of accountability. Perhaps funds typically spent on Scottish foreign embassies, vote-catching give aways, indy campaigns, Supreme Court rulings and the like might be effectively used to hire sufficient telephone operators for the police and a contractor to fix the hospital lifts.
Duncan Sooman, Milngavie.
• KEVIN McKenna is spot on in his analysis of the decline in SNP membership (“SNP’s shrinking base should cause the party alarm”, The Herald, August 22). I'm one of the 25,000 who have left, and his article sums up beautifully the things which led me to do so.
When devolution was being discussed in the late 1990s critics warned that the Assembly, as it then was known, would be like Strathclyde Regional Council writ large with incompetence and cronyism. As the Scottish Government evolved I thought those critics were wrong, but now I suspect that they were in fact right.
I still support the principle of Scottish independence, but with the SNP as the only credible independence party I cannot see independence, if it ever comes, working out too well. We need a government which is open, honest and in touch with people's real day-to-day concerns, and I fear that the SNP falls short for all the reasons Mr McKenna spells out.
Indeed, despite my pro-independence beliefs I will have to think long and hard before deciding if I really can vote Yes in the SNP's pointless referendum next year.
The quote which keeps coming to my mind as I see the high ideals of devolution being debased is that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Stewart J Brown, Largs.
A QUESTION OF PRIORITIES
THE First Minister and her acolytes took severe umbrage when Liz Truss referred to the FM as an “attention-seeker”. However, the events of the last two days seem to provide a contradiction to that statement on both sides of the accusation. Whilst Edinburgh’s streets represent a rubbish dump, our esteemed First Minister prioritises her third appearance of the Edinburgh Fringe (“Sturgeon will embrace life after politics and identifies as ‘British’”, The Herald, August 25). Three times she has pontificated on stage saying much about nothing but clearly revelling in the attention.
But on the same day, the sort of attention she does not want is demonstrated by the release of the damning GERS report showing an extra £2,200 per head of the Scottish population being spent in Scotland as part of the UK. Rather than hearing from the First Minister on a Fringe stage, we should have heard from her about the GERS report rather than “honest” John Swinney fronting it up just before he blames Cosla and anyone else on the disgraceful state of our capital city. What further SNP incompetence will drag the First Minster away from the bright lights of the stage and her adoring fans to actually get on with day job she was elected to carry out?
Richard Allison, Edinburgh.
SO IS GERS OKAY NOW?
IN days gone by, when Scotland's oil-enriched GERS figures were good, Alex Salmond used them as evidence that we could go it alone. Then, from 2014 until 2019, the period of low oil price and industry contraction, we got a true sense of our actual performance, and we collected between 8% and 10% less in taxes than total public spending on schools, pensions, our share of defence, etc. The SNP then argued that GERS was not a true analysis of the situation, and, anyway, oil and gas was just the icing on the cake.
The Covid years distort the picture and tell us little, and now high oil prices are forecast to transform our GERS figures again ("North Sea oil and gas boom ‘could boost independence campaign’", The Herald, August 25). Good news for nationalists, but hang on, don't they want to prise off the oil and gas icing and close the industry down? And, if next year's figures are good, will they finally agree that good or bad, GERS fairly measures Scotland's fiscal readiness for independence?
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.
• THE SNP has no shame. Having opposed the development of new oil and gas fields it is now prepared to argue that oil revenue will be used to boost the argument for independence.
The Greens now need to walk away from government before they are also accused of hypocrisy and lose support from those who would give them a vote.
Bill Eadie, Giffnock.
LET TREASURY ISSUE FIGURES
UKRAINE has an Independence Day, a day of national celebration; Scotland has GERS Day, a day of national flagellation. GERS always reminds me of BBC chairman Marmaduke Hussey, who complained BBC Scotland was overfunded, in spite of having less than half the per capita funding that England enjoyed at the time. As half of the country want Scotland to be a self-governing country, is it not about time we abandoned the “guesstimates” involved with GERS, and insisted on verifiable economic statistics from the Treasury?
GR Weir, Ochiltree.
SCRUTINISE BOTH GOVERNMENTS
LIKE Struan Stevenson (“Litany of failure is why the SNP must be subject to UK scrutiny", The Herald, August 25) I’m in favour of scrutiny of governments. Unlike him, I think this scrutiny should extend to all administrations, including Westminster. Perhaps Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could have a role in scrutinising Westminster. Its litany of failure includes the failure to lockdown timeously, failure to make a £120 billion test and trace system work, failure to reclaim £50bn of stolen Covid loans, failure to observe its own rules and, most recently, failure of our absentee Premier or either of his wannabe successors to have a plan to prevent fuel bills bankrupting half the country.
This is an incomplete list of Westminster failures but your readership will be able to fill in the many gaps, even if Mr Stevenson is unwilling to do so.
Sam Craig, Glasgow.
DON'T TURN BACK THE CLOCK
I THANK Ian McNair for his letter (August 25), but regarding medical prescriptions, I see nothing fair in a system where they are paid for twice; once through taxation, then paid for again at the counter. On holiday in Norfolk, I found it quite shocking when the gentleman in front of me in the chemist's handed over his money before receiving his medicine (currently £9.35 per item in England).
Before the SNP Government scrapped prescription charges in Scotland, I was working part-time and paying almost £30 a month for various medicines was a considerable bite into my small salary. It is a fact that many people who required multiple prescriptions could not afford them all and only presented the chemist with the ones which were most needed. A return to those days would be a huge backward step to Scotland's health and well-being and no government, of whatever hue, should even consider it.
Ruth Marr, Stirling.
• WITH reference to Ian McNair's letter (August 25), if 80 per cent of people were already receiving free prescriptions, it begs the question why higher taxpayers should not also receive free prescriptions particularly given they pay more in taxes?
To penalise higher taxpayers by removing their entitlement to free prescriptions smacks of double taxation.
Brian Bell, Kinross.