Readers' Letters: Which leadership candidate is best for Scotland?

Should it matter to people in Scotland whether former Chancellor Rishi Sunak or Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is successful in the Conservative leadership race?

Over the last century when that party's leaders take over mid-term when in government they are usually successful in the subsequent general election. The notable exceptions were Neville Chamberlain, who stood down in wartime, and Winston Churchill who lost in the post-war Labour landslide. But others, Stanley Baldwin, Anthony Eden, Harold McMillan, John Major, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, went on to some degree of electoral success. There is every prospect that the winner of the current tussle will be prime minister for more than two years.

Despite the abrasive tone of the first half of Monday night's BBC debate, some differences on economic policy between the two are clear (your report, 26 July). Mr Sunak does seem stronger on the need to control inflation in way that will help middle and low-income groups. He has already given a council tax rebate (keenly copied by the Scottish Government) and announced, as Chancellor, an increase to pensioners' winter fuel payments and help with energy bills in the autumn, in addition to payments for those on benefits. It seems to me that Ms Truss's promises on taxation and the way to reduce the debt are vague and less practical. Cutting taxation on the scale she seems to suggest could well mean public expenditure cuts that would impact many Scottish households.

Much will depend on Mr Sunak's relationship with whoever he appoints as Chancellor. This is always a fraught link in any government. But he has set a positive tone during the Covid crisis with the hugely acceptable furlough scheme. That should set the scene for his administration if he is allowed to form one. From a perspective north of the Border, he still seems a better bet to look after Scotland's welfare.

Leadership debates have brought out clear differences on economic policy between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, says reader (Photo by Jonathan Hordle /ITV/Getty)

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    Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

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    What Conservative leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have said abou...

    Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak went head to head on TV on Monday to garner support from members of the Conservative party to send one of them to 10 Downing Street. If this programme had been about leadership alone, the score for both would have been nil points. Mr Sunak kept interrupting Liz Truss or both were talking at the same time, making it impossible to understand the point either candidate was making. The chairperson, Sophie Raworth, did little to control the meeting.

    Ms Truss mentioned innovation, productivity and investment, but did not say how improvements could be achieved, and she wants to reverse the NHI and Corporation tax increases, without any heed to their consequences of higher inflation and interest rates, while Mr Sunak wants to wait until the finances are in better shape before cutting taxes. Both were aware that something has to be done now to alleviate the problems associated with inflation on food and energy prices.

    The UK is not well blessed when it comes to leadership, so for all his failings please bring back Boris (don't hold your breath).

    James Macintyre, Linlithgow, West Lothian

    Clarity, courage

    In considering what to do about Edinburgh’s strip clubs, there shouldn’t be a political problem for most councillors (Aidan Smith, Perspective, 26 July). Socialists believe in bringing authority and responsibility to the lowest practical level, in this case each individual. Liberals uphold diversity and civil liberties. Tories make space for earning a living in the market place. The guiding principles for the SNP in local government have not been revealed to me. However, sex can be close to exploitation, abuse and health hazards.

    Councillors are not invited to take high moral positions. They are asked to manage safe spaces in which professionals in the associated areas of concern have a working relationship with the people involved. Prohibition doesn’t work. It does not make the sex industry go away, it pushes it underground, where the authorities lose control and real problems begin. A bit of clarity and courage from councillors would be welcome.

    Tim Bell, Edinburgh

    Watching brief

    I keep up with matters in my home country through the pages of the newspapers. I notice a constant theme is the arguments from pro and anti-government supporters using various facts and figures to prove their point.I moved south when the wellbeing of the country was still in the hands of the Department of the Secretary of State for Scotland. What would be the view of those who have experienced both before and after devolution?

    For instance, the cost of bureaucracy in maintaining the occupants of the Scottish Parliament. What financial blunders occurred under the Department in comparison to the ferries debacle?The Department still maintains a watching brief over aspects of matters in Scotland, but with a low profile.

    C Lowson, Fareham, Hants

    The management

    Gerald Evans questions the ability of an independent Scotland to replicate the benefits of the Union (Letters, 26 July). He is really doubting the quality of the Scottish management team, which in any new business start-up is a vital component but often lacking and is why three out of five new businesses fail.

    However, the transition to full independence would be a gradual process, and the people and skills needed for Scotland’s survival would hopefully appear over the years.

    Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Kinross

    Project Cliche

    When Mary Thomas wheels out the tired “Project Fear” taunt it's a sure sign she has run out of constructive counter arguments (Letters, July 26). She claims that on GERS reports all “sensible” people know they are an “estimate” of Scotland’s economic position. Estimates of some figures are not unusual in economic communications. The only question is as to how accurate they are. The former First Minister and trained economist, Alex Salmond, described the GERS reports in 2014 as the “authoritative publication on Scotland's finances”. The current First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, stated in 2017 that she had “no quibbles about the essence and reliability of these figures”. What has changed in relation to these figures is not their reliability but – for the nationalist cause – their palatability.

    Ms Watson goes on to claim that an independent Scotland would make “different taxation and spending choices” Very possibly. But what these are or how successful they would be has yet to be made clear. On current evidence the signs are not propitious. The 2014 proposal, for example, to cut corporation tax was dropped a year later!

    We already do have the powers to vary income tax and we are seeing how well that is going with a shortfall of several hundred million pounds in the making. As to spending, the SNP have exercised their existing powers to nationalise Prestwick airport and Ferguson Marine and to get into bed to the tune of £586 million with Sanjeev Gupta. Choices such as these are not the most convincing arguments for an independent Scotland.

    Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

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    Responsibility

    A big thank you to Allan Sutherland for his Informative letter in the Scotsman highlighting previous recession and inflation impacts on ordinary family finances (26 July). Obviously it would be wrong to directly compare the two for various social reasons, but nevertheless he is right to compare the rise of single parents as a matter of concern.

    The plight of the single parent with regard to finances appears to be well established in our media and therefore our conciousness. How we managed to reach 3 million households with single parent status is worthy of more than a brief statistic.

    Obviously, the reasons for being a single parent are varied, but where the cause is breakdown in relationship then the absent parent has an absolute responsibility to ensure that their child does not suffer from financial problems. In these cases, it is not the state’s responsibility to pick up the pieces, it falls totally on the parents shoulders.

    In this country we have seen the big multinationals offshoring in search of ways to protect profits, leaving our governments to pick up the shortfall of income for redundant workers. That is exactly the same scenario as the single parent although, of course, on a more local level.

    We have little power to force the multinationals to stay in the country or even contribute to the welfare of redundant workers. However, in the case of the absent parent we should have more than enough levers to ensure that abandoned children do not suffer financially from the breakdown of their parents relationship. It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of the children they have conceived not the state’s.

    Just a thought.

    Tony Lewis, Coylton, Ayrshire

    Nicolavision?

    So the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest will be in the UK, on behalf of Ukraine, with Nicola Sturgeon already stating she would like it held in Glasgow. Nevertheless, her rationale for hosting is somewhat obscure. The UK, a key Ukrainian ally, will be competing, not Scotland – the UK will be the host with Glasgow the UK host city. Eurovision fans from elsewhere in the UK will attend, supporting the UK entry. The event will be televised by the BBC, the UK's national broadcaster and the principal funder, on behalf of the UK, of the event. Yes, Sturgeon characteristically may manoeuvre herself to grab a few minutes of fame – but that's a small price for unionists to pay for seeing Glasgow drowning in a sea of Ukraine and Union flags for days running up to the event and on the night of the competition.

    Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire

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