Alba Party MP Kenny MacAskill has chosen to describe it as “selling the family silver” (Scotsman, 18 January), a curious choice as the phrase was made memorable by former conservative Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan when criticising Margaret Thatcher’s decision to sell off the nationalised industries. Why “silver”? There is a long way to go before a right to develop turns into a profit-generating and taxable industry.
It is not a quick fix and expenditure on delivering it will be immense, far beyond the capability of a Scottish government without significant borrowing powers. It will be a decade at least before electricity will be available from these new and fairly experimental floating turbines but well-paid jobs in almost every field will become available, as they were at the beginning of the North Sea Oil bonanza.
The one thing we need for this bright future is an independent government which has the right to lay down the conditions for development, and to keep the funds and tax returns that will accrue from these companies for use in Scotland by Scots.
This auction is not selling the family silver, it is opening the door to opportunity. It is preparing a dripping roast for whoever governs Scotland.
However, without independence we Scots will lose out again to Westminster as we lost out with oil.
Elizabeth Buchan-Hepburn, Edinburgh
A lot of hot air
Critics of the Scottish Offshore Wind Auction should stop to consider the reasons for claims that it was sold on the cheap with successful bids gong to overseas multinationals, not least as energy policy is reserved to Westminster and the Scottish Government doesn’t have the ability to borrow the huge sums that would be required to establish a Scottish National Energy Company.
Ofcom’s policy of penalising Scottish renewables with the highest grid connection charges in Europe is a significant factor in the price achieved and the failure of successive Westminster governments, including 13 years of Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, to re-establish a national energy company or to reinvest much of the £350 billion they earned from Scottish oil and gas revenues into Scottish renewable manufacturing or modernising shipbuilding explains why the bids were dominated by overseas operators.
Scotland is already a net exporter of gas and electricity and the electricity produced by the winning bidders could power more than three times as much as Scotland could use. It is estimated that the winning bidders will create £25 billion worth of investment, with thousands of jobs and new energy hubs established in Aberdeen and Leith.
At $88 a barrel, Brent Crude is currently at its highest level since 2014 but this will be of little benefit to the UK government or Scottish consumers when compared to Norway, which did not reduce taxes for oil and gas companies and has an aid package of £700m to cover half of household energy bills for the December to March winter period.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh
Art and science
I was delighted to discover how the artist Annie Broadley was inspired, not only to paint scenes from William Bruce's Scottish National Antarctic Expedition of 1902-04, but also to write a feature article (Scotsman, 21 January).
There were two artists on board Bruce's research ship SY Scotia, William Cuthbertson and William Martin, and on a previous expedition to Antarctica in 1892-93 he travelled in the company of William Gordon Burn Murdoch, who was to become a distinguished artist and travel writer.
William Bruce received vital support and encouragement from the oceanographer HSH Prince Albert I of Monaco and took part in several of the prince's expeditions to the Arctic.
On their second voyage together in 1899 Bruce introduced the Aberdeen artist William Smith to the prince, who employed him as the ship's scientific artist. Prince Albert believed that not only were artists essential to the work of oceanographic expeditions but, fundamentally, the two driving forces of civilisation were art and science.
Since his death just over 100 years ago in October 1921, WS Bruce has been remembered in many different ways, not least in art, music and dance, all inspired by science. Let us hope that the school curriculum offers students the chance to explore the achievements of people like Bruce and be inspired by the enduring links between art and science.
David Munro, Kinnesswood, Perth and Kinross
You report on plans for the building of a so-called multi-school Winchburgh campus in West Lothian (Scotsman, 20 January).
This will “join” two secondary schools, one denominational and one non-denominational and a denominational primary.
It seems that despite plans to share a gym, the non-denominational school will be accessed from a new entrance at the west end of the site and the two denominational schools from crossroads at the east end.
Is this a “step in the right direction” for sectarianism, or the enshrining of separation under one roof ?
Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society
I find it startling that there could be any debate whatsoever about the proposed new “Mackay’s law”, now at the consultation stage (Scotsman, 20 January).
Derek Mackay, an SNP minister and best known for his now infamous texts to a teenage boy, clung on and received his full taxpayer-provided salary from February 2020 till May of last year.
He had been suspended by his party but continued receiving his full salary. In all, he coined in around £150,000 in the period for not a single appearance at Holyrood. That amount could have bought an ambulance or two or paid the salaries of three new nurses.
The proposed law change will bring MSPs into line with councillors, who after six months of no-show, receive no pay. It is demonstrably fair and badly needed.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh
Thank you for the prominence that you gave to the scheduled legislation, due to come into force at the start of next month, requiring all homes to be fitted with interlinked fire alarms (Scotsman, 20 January).
The Scottish Government reckons that this will cost around £220 per home, while Labour claims it will often cost much more. Housing Secretary Shona Robison declares that the measure will be implemented without further delay. So we shall have to add this to our already stretched home budgets.
It appears that this legislation was due last year but was delayed on account of Covid. I must have blinked when it was first announced because this is the first I have heard of it. I wonder how many more homeowners have been or are yet to get this surprise.
Archie Pacey, Edinburgh
It's interesting that a letter entirely aiming questions about Boris Johnson's judgment which makes no mention of the SNP should be branded as distortion by Tim Flinn and subjected to deflection by unashamed Unionist apologist Donald Lewis quoting an SNP rule from seven years ago which is no longer pertinent and irrelevant to the point of my letter (Letters 20 January).
As both have assiduously avoided the basic questions I asked, perhaps I could be permitted to be more blunt. Was Boris Johnson, as Prime Minister, involved in the promotion of the raft of individuals Mr Flinn says were promoted “a level or two above their ability”? And was Boris Johnson involved in the decision to sideline senior Conservatives with gravitas like Jeremy Hunt and Phillip Hammond, to name but two?
Mr Flinn says he could name a dozen benefits from Brexit, but says lack of space precluded him from doing so. He attempts a couple, but diminishes his argument by perpetuating the myth of “the unelected EU government”. From this we can assume that he didn’t bother to vote in the EU parliamentary elections.
He goes on to waste space by flying his jingoistic Union flag by proudly proclaiming that the UK has sent 100 men and a couple of bazookas to defend Ukraine against 100,000 Russian troops. We should all be very proud.
Gill Turner, Edinburgh
The Queen asked Boris Johnston to form a government after the 2019 General Election. Presumably, in turn, she could also ask him resign.
Admittedly it's not going to happen but it makes you think that perhaps there could be something after all in the ancient divine right of kings (and queens) to rule as they pleased.
The Prime Minister says he takes full responsibility for all the shenanigans that have been going on but, while it's easy to say, what does that really mean if he doesn't resign?
Do we really want a Prime Minister who can't tell the difference between a work event and a party?
He has used the excuse of "I didna ken" too often to be credible but wait – of course he's not going to resign. Carrie wants to get full value for the redecoration of Downing Street.
Dan Lean, Edinburgh
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