Letters: Scottish Government must redistribute wealth

Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon refuse to hold emergency budgets despite the Scottish Power chief warning that half of Scotland’s households could face fuel poverty by the autumn.

A triple whammy of higher interest rates on loans and mortgages, crippling fuel costs and double digit inflation threatens to redefine the socio-economic landscape for decades. Individuals, companies and the UK Government have got themselves heavily indebted, which may explain why the Bank of England has been so slow to increase interest rates to mitigate inflation on asset and energy prices, while some policymakers admit to underestimating the extent of the inflation spike to our cost.While the UK Government has refused to ask BP and Shell to pay a windfall tax from their multi billion pound profits, the Scottish Government, with its fiscal powers, has the ability to redistribute wealth to those suffering the most but it, too, has refused to intervene beyond the council tax reduction. In itself this does not help cash-poor pensioners in middle cost housing, many of whom are widows relying on a state pension. It’s ironic that the SNP, who see Council Tax as an obsolete form of taxation based on property values calculated over 30 years ago, are defining those needing help with their cost of living.The Scottish Government could take thousands on low incomes out of tax now and increase tax on high earners. This would put cash in the pockets of those struggling the most. For those pensioners, the unwaged and untaxed earners the Scottish Welfare Fund could have been broadened and topped up with some of this additional tax take. Instead they blame Westminster.Perhaps the UK domiciled £184 million Euromillions lottery winner will appreciate the gravity of this crisis by donating £1,000 each to the 184,000 poorest households?

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

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Get sick later

Nicola Sturgeon reckons Boris Johnson isn't doing enough for Scots (Picture: Duncan McGlynn/Getty Images)

We are all painfully aware that Nicola Sturgeon sees it as her priority to have an independence referendum by 2023 despite there being no obvious demand for this. What is really an obvious demand, however, is the chance to see your medical GP face-to-face again.

To this end, SNP Health Minister, Humza Yousaf, has “promised" to have 800 extra GPs in place but by 2027, five years from now. This must rank as one of the most shocking utterances from the SNP. The health of the nation matters so little yet an unwanted, expensive and damaging referendum does. How many diagnoses are going to be missed and sadly, lives lost, whilst the SNP pursues its pet project to the exclusion of all else?

(Dr) Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

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Cost-of-living crisis: Nicola Sturgeon says Boris Johnson needs to 'stop talking...

Lagging behind

Amid great publicity this week the Prime Minister signed a “security deal” with Sweden and Finland. Boris Johnson and the Brexiteers are claiming this as another example of Britain's leading role in the world after Brexit.

However, it would have been unnecessary if the UK had remained in the EU. The Treaty of Lisbon includes a mutual defence clause which is binding on all EU countries “to aid and assist by all the means in their power if an EU country is the victim of armed aggression on its territory”. This country will always have to keep running to catch up because of the stupid and harmful decision to leave the EU… unless some future government has the sense to rejoin!

Bill Cooper, Kinross, Perth & Kinross

Ferry doubtful

An e-mail has been found and a sheet of paper has been waved dramatically in Holyrood. However, we still don’t know why the ferry contract for hulks 801 and 802 was awarded to Ferguson’s.

The best solution for Nicola Sturgeon is to come clean and admit that it was her political decision to ignore CMAL, who advised her not to give the contract Ferguson’s. She obviously wanted to make a positive announcement to the sycophants at the SNP conference.

Admitting her total incompetence and saying that “lessons will be learned“ will be forgiven or ignored by the nationalists and their activists who will continue to peddle fantasy economics and Braveheart and Brigadoon visions of a seceded Scotland.

James Quinn, Lanark

More power alone

Steuart Campbell (Letters, 12 May) is wrong about Scottish taxpayers’ subsidy for nuclear power as the UK Autumn Budget announced £1.7 billion towards the construction of Sizewell C in Suffolk. Also, according to a House of Commons committee report in November 2020. it will cost current and future generations of UK taxpayers £132bn to decommission the UK’s civil nuclear sites. The main point is that Scotland doesn’t need nuclear power to meet our energy needs and National Grid Electricity Transmission is proposing two subsea links to transfer surplus Green energy from Scotland to England, enough to power 4 million homes, with no obvious benefit for our Scottish government.

It is suspected the reluctance of the UK government to impose a windfall tax on energy companies is down to the fact that it will boost next year’s GERS figures and ignores the fact that in 2019 Norway earned $21.35 from every barrel of oil compared to $1.72 in the UK and all profits made from oil and gas extraction in Norway are subject to a 78 per cent windfall tax yet this has not deterred investment in the Norwegian half of the North Sea.

As well as high energy costs, thanks to Brexit, and the poor handling of Covid, the UK economy will be sluggish for at least five years, yet Labour merely wants Brexit done better rather than supporting Scotland’s opportunity to escape the cost of living crisis as a thriving independent member of the EU just like Denmark, Finland and Ireland.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Court short?

Alexander Brown is right to highlight the plans for a new UK Bill of Rights in his article on the Queen's Speech (10 May). However, the report concerning this item should be corrected. The European Court of Human Rights has nothing to do with the EU. It is, rather, the judicial organ of the Council of Europe, of which the UK has been a founding member since 1950 and of which is still a member. The Court is not an appellate court but can only be petitioned if an individual alleges a violation of his or her human rights and all domestic remedies have been exhausted.

Any impact on the UK courts, including the Scottish Courts, relates to the interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights, which has been implemented in UK law via the Human Rights Act 1998 – a statute that has been in the Conservative Party's sights for a long time.

(Dr) Arianna, Andreangeli, Senior Lecturer in Competition Law, Edinburgh Law School, University of Edinburgh

Wrong direction

Trust Nicola Sturgeon to be flying off to the United States, creating more aviation fumes, when many of her constituents are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

Surely she could learn more taking the ferry to Arran and learning how the islanders are faring after the Scottish Government’s disastrous handling of the contracts to build desperately needed ferries whose costs have rocketed – even without inflation – in a culture of disgraceful financial mismanagement amid a cost of living crisis experienced by ordinary Scots.

Jim Craigen, Edinburgh

Misguided trip

I am sure that US congressmen and women who hear Nicola Sturgeon speaking about Scotland's future next week will be more than a little puzzled because they will have assumed that Scotland understands the norms of democracy, which are to abide by a political decision which has been specifically addressed and a decision reached.After Donald Trump’s supporters attempted to ignore democracy and overthrow their legitimate government, congressmen and women will be very wary of entertaining the First Minister of a devolved part of their staunchest ally advocating breaking up the UK only a handful of years after being told in no uncertain terms that Scots want to remain British.The Americans will also be very worried that she is advocating the removal of the UK’s nuclear deterrent. Americans know that it is the nuclear deterrent which keeps Putin's Russia at bay. It has guaranteed Europe's freedom for over half a century. The Ukraine was invaded because it relinquished its own deterrent.

Of course, anyone can travel out of the UK and speak to whoever they wish, as long as it is not beyond their remit. However, Nicola Sturgeon intends to breach that remit as Scotland’s First Minister, so I am hopeful that the Government will ask her, or her party, to reimburse the Treasury for squandering millions of pounds which could otherwise have been spent on Scottish nurses, or doctors, on Scottish food banks, or even on the potholes which cover Scotland's roads. That's what the SNP's budget is supposed to be spent on.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Long-term pain

It is reported that German chancellor Olaf Scholz says Ukraine will battle with the consequences of Putin’s war for 100 years due to widespread live ordnance remaining, as Germany has found since 1945. But not only Ukraine but the whole world will be affected in even more serious ways, just as we all still suffer now, 80 and 100 years after the immediate results of Germany’s two 20th century wars and, as the historian Nikolai Tolstoy has stated, of Germany’s effective creation of the USSR in 1917.

Unsurprisingly, to my knowledge that has never been recognised by any German leader.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

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