All parties need to put focus on real economic problems facing Scotland

ON THE DAY the SNP released its manifesto for the upcoming election, the latest jobs figures have been issued, and pretty disastrous they are.

For the second month running, unemployment in Scotland has risen.

This month’s increase of 20,000 follows a rise of 16,000 last month. The rate of unemployment is now 6.2 per cent. Further increases are expected over coming months, the problems in the oil and gas sectors are well known. Almost every day there are stories of companies going bust or reducing their workforce.

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The unemployment level and rate are 50 per cent higher than they were in 2008. Scotland is doing far worse than the rest of the U.K., where the unemployment rate is only 5.1 per cent

These figures are a testament to the SNP Scottish Government’s lack of any industrial policy over the last eight years, except to throw money at a problem when the damage has been done. They seem to have forgotten that they were elected to run the country, not just to try to make Scotland independent

The SNP’s answer? Well it seems, it is to do nothing. Continue austerity, starve investment, and cut budgets, which will only make matters worse. Scotland deserves better.

W Harris

Lygon Road, Edinburgh

In the words of Richard Wilson’s Victor Meldrew, “I do not believe it”. The dreadful economic news over the last few weeks culminating in the disastrous increase in unemployment reported this week suggests to me that Scotland is disappearing down an economic black hole into recession. If this were mirrored throughout the rest of the UK it would be bad enough but our relative position is far worse with the performance in England actually being quite strong. Despite this there has been relatively little comment in the media and virtually nothing from the Scottish political leaders – I have never known an election where criticism of the economic record of the party in power has not been a central plank of the other parties’ political campaigns and here there is much to criticise and hold the SNP to account over.

Your leading article on Wednesday suggested that the independence issue should be parked for the time being and the focus during the next two weeks should be on matters that really count this time round such as reversing rising unemployment. I could not disagree more.

The only way to get the government in power to concentrate on the matters that really count after 5 May is to take the independence question off the agenda and that can only be achieved if the SNP do not retain an overall majority. Ruth Davidson needs not only to continue with her anti-independence rhetoric but also to draw attention to the SNPs terrible economic record and the likelihood it will not be reversed as long as independence is on the agenda.e.

Raymond Paul

Braid Farm Road, Edinburgh