Reality check

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ACCORDING to Stewart Hosie, (Scotsman) George Osborne “had a record of failure of broken promises”. He went on to say that “in our judgment, much of the failure came about because he strangled the life-blood out of the economy by cutting too much too quickly with little regard to the consequences”. Really?

Mr Hosie conveniently ignores the fact that the UK has the fastest growing economy of all the major western economies, created more jobs than the rest of the EU combined, has a record high of people in work and forecast to deliver a surplus by 2020. His ridiculous claims clearly shows little understanding that we actually live in a global market and not in a “wee Scottish bubble” and as such will be effected by the slowing global outlook for 2016 (World Economic Outlook Jan, 2016).

Even a casual observer who has bothered to read the discredited SNP’s independence White Paper would find Mr Hosie’s latest disconnect from reality at best a deflection from Scotland’s fiscal black hole and at worst yet another con-trick thrust upon the Scottish people, they deserve better.

Ian Lakin

Murtle Den Road, Aberdeen

Time to question

I must agree with Joyce McMillan in Scottish Perspective (Targeting the vulnerable isn’t funny, 18 March). In spite of my strongly held previous opinions I find myself asking whether independence is the only way we can escape from the likes of “George Osborne in Flashman mode”.

However, on the other hand I cannot but worry about an independent Scotland’s huge budget deficit, the answers to which must be much more convincing than vague assurances, without strategy details, that “holding the reins of power” in itself would solve the problems overnight.

The SNP is surely duty bound to give us answers which will attempt to resolve this dilemma or at least allow the voters to consider the options.

John Milne

Ardgowan Drive, Uddingston

MPs on Twitter

In the shadow of both Nicola Sturgeon’s commitment to a drive to “woo No voters to her beautiful dream of independence, without brow-beating” and another resignation from the ranks of the party amid more claims of bullying, an interesting aside has appeared on SNP MPs’ Twitter feeds.

Pete Wishart (SNP for Perth and North Perthshire)tweeted: “Annoy a Unionist” with a host of exclamations suggesting that No voters are too drunk to vote responsibly (ie for the SNP). The response from John Nicolson (SNP for East Dunbartonshire) was: “It’s the wallowing in ignorance which is so depressing.” This is what Ms Sturgeon’s colleagues quite openly and very publicly think of the majority of Scottish voters (including no doubt, some of their own constituents). Two elected MPs who are exclaiming that unionists/No voters are drunks and ignorant. Any courteous response from unionists is met with an immediate ban. Is this the “openness and transparency” that Ms Sturgeon speaks of?

If, as she has steadfastly indicated, she is committed to “purging” her party’s membership of “Cybernat” trolls, perhaps she could make a productive in-road by putting a leash on some of her elected representatives and prevent them from insulting a huge swathe (the majority) of the Scottish electorate.

Mark Ward.

Dalmellington Road, Glasgow

Rewriting history

I note that yet again history is being rewritten. History does not show us that Scotland over the past 30 years has paid more tax than the rest of the UK.

This myth was propagated during the referendum campaign by the SNP choosing to allocate, on a geographical basis, tax from North Sea oil. Scotland does not pay that tax, oil producers pay it to the Treasury. And allocating some notional amount to Scotland based on geography is fanciful.

Rightly taking out of the equation the tax from oil means that Scotland has paid a little less per head than the rest of the UK. An inconvenient truth for the Nationalists.

CG Barlow

Clerwood Park, Edinburgh

Knee-jerk move

On Thursday we had the announcement that Scotland, as distinct from the rest of the UK, will not be revising the threshold for higher tax to £45,000: a crowd-pleaser from the SNP who have other ideas for the point at which 40 per cent income tax applies.

On the same day it was reported that one in four Scottish GP practices are short of at least one doctor. Are we saying to talented and hard-working doctors: don’t stay in, or come to Scotland: you’ll pay higher income tax, as well as having the highest property transaction taxes in the UK? As well as suffering increased council tax bands on top, for the 6 per cent of properties where high-fliers tend to live?

Just a few high earners quitting for the South will mean the Scottish exchequer is worse off as a result of this unresearched, knee-jerk, reaction to a modest change in UK taxation bands.

Peter Smaill

Borthwick, Midlothian

The real world

George Osborne’s claim on Wednesday that his Budget “puts the next generation first” indicated that he intends to commute the negative effects of the “carbon lunacy”.

Just three months after the Paris Climate Jolly, he cut taxes on the oil and gas industry, froze petrol duty and scrapped the ridiculous carbon tax for businesses like Tesco.He also made sure that the remaining “climate change levy” will now apply to electricity sourced from Heath-Robinson devices such as windmills as well as from fossil fuels.

This simply recognises the fact that computer predictions of catastrophic climate change, on which these costly policies are based, have not been supported by measured reality.

Dr John Cameron

Howard Place, St Andrews

Torness reaction

WWF’s director Lang Banks loses no opportunity to claim that nuclear power is ‘unreliable’ (Unplanned shutdown of Torness reactor, 18 March).

This time it is merely because one reactor at Torness was taken off line due to a faulty valve, not necessarily in the reactor itself!

Mr Banks makes a fool of himself and the whole green movement by over-reacting to even the slightest defect in a nuclear power plant, displaying a complete lack of a sense of proportion and his unjustified prejudice.

In fact nuclear power has one of the highest load factors in the generation industry, while wind farms have one of the lowest, making nuclear the most reliable generation method for base load.

Steuart Campbell

Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Sexism reversed

Susan Russell commends the 50-50 gender split in the SNP Cabinet, and hopes that others will “better” this.

So, having more women than men is desirable, is it? Imagine if anyone suggested that having more men was preferable? Would that not be denounced as outrageous sexism? When is this onslaught of feminist dogmatism going to end? The Scotsman publishes endless press releases from feminist campaign groups and copious opinion pieces promoting discrimination against men. The comment threads below fill up with objections, but, in the newspaper, dissent is confined to the letters page.

I don’t want a battle of the sexes, but appeasement of those already fighting one is not the answer.

Richard Lucas

Broomyknowe, Colinton, Edinburgh

Striking challenge

The college lecturers’ strike action poses a considerable dilemma for those interested in industrial relations in the further education sector(your report, 18 March).

This is not simply about a wage claim that would help to compensate for inflation and recognises changes in workloads and salary levels in other parts of education provision.

It is mainly about comparative salary levels throughout local colleges in Scotland which have been distorted by local bargaining over a period of more than 20 years.

It is idle to pretend that this can be resolved through the normal bargaining process. It will need some sort of independent commission to look at the position overall..

Any parallel between the coal industry and the education service may seem fanciful in the light of recent history.

But in the 1960s the national power loading agreement meant that miners earning widely varying rates of pay had to make sacrifices to introduce a more coherent system.

That move did not ,of course, in itself resolve industrial relations problems in the industry or even save it in the long run. But it may provide a pointer to how a not dissimilar situation in further education can be sorted out.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court, Glenrothes

Ashes to ashes

Despite amendments having been put forward by the government advisory committees to retain the 200 yard protected, respect zone in the new Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill, missives were exchanged earlier this week between East Lothian Council and a crematorium developer with regard to Alderston House, Haddington.

This will place the proposed crematorium 43 yards from our home. The developer is obviously very confident in advance of the new bill, that the amendment will be removed by ministers when it goes before Parliament next Tuesday.

The removal of this protection zone goes against the wishes of 76 per cent of the voting public, against the advice of the majority of professional bodies and stakeholders consulted. We have seen no evidence of anyone actively requesting the removal of this zone.

With so little support we should question the motives of the ministers concerned and why MSPs silently follow – perhaps this is an occasion where a free vote is required?

Bob and Lesley Heath

Alderston, Haddington

Poetic justice

While congratulating Jackie Kay on her appointment as Scottish Makar, she would also be well-advised to avoid the pitfall of her predecessor, who joined up to the SNP establishment. It will be interesting to see how Ms Kay deals with the great public debates of the day.

Peter A Russell

Poet and Tragedian, Jordanhill, Glasgow