Readers' letters: Are Tories still the party of Union and sound finance?

As someone who was only six years old and probably playing with snow and watching Citizen Smith and the snooker, I found it very interesting to look back on the Winter of Discontent 1978 in a recent documentary on TV.

Alastair Darling receives applause from Prime Minister Gordon Brown after making his speech during the 2008 Labour Party Conference in Manchester
Alastair Darling receives applause from Prime Minister Gordon Brown after making his speech during the 2008 Labour Party Conference in Manchester

What was clear with inflation above the five per cent pay cap and a very harsh winter, is how crucial folk like bakers, lorry drivers, nurses, refuse collectors, the fire service were among the key workers during the recent Covid 19 pandemic. They were probably undervalued then and nothing seems to have changed with the passage of time.

Except, we have a government that seems to ignore the lessons from history in both 1978 and 1979 and more recently in the banking crisis of 2008.

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer during the banking crisis of 2008, Alistair Darling, who was also one of leading figures of the Better Together cmpaign, must wonder what the Conservative and Unionist Party are going to next to aid the cause of Scottish independence.

Boris Johnson MP as Prime Minister, next up Liz Truss MP as Prime Minister and a Chancellor of the Exchequer who maybe should have stuck with University Challenge rather than the challenges of sorting out the economy.

If you wanted to tackle the issues in the economy maybe increasing minimum wage, lowering basic rate of tax and increasing tax thresholds seem to me, as someone who delivers groceries for a living, a much better way to put money in people's pockets, but then again, I am not an economist.

Apparently, I am also a nationalist and folk like myself are not supposed to understand anything about economics.

I thought the Conservative and Unionist Party were supposed to be great on the Union, economics, law and order, but it certainly does not look like it at the moment.

Peter Ovenstone, Peterhead

Bank on SNP

Unionists misrepresent the SNP policy on currency, which is to set up a central bank and Scottish currency at the earliest fiscally prudent opportunity after independence.

And also on the Sustainable Growth Commission findings, whose author Andrew Wilson wrote in May that “If Scotland votes to become independent, it will be the richest country ever to do so. The economics of the independence debate start with this clear and simple fact.”

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He continued, “Scots have the choice of independence and a return to the European Union. Not choosing that would be economically high-risk. The process will not be simple; it will be hard work and take effort, but like most acts of self-improvement, it will also be satisfying and meaningful”. And concludes, “Of course it will be challenging, but it will be worth it”.

As a net exporter of electricity, oil and gas an energy rich independent Scotland in the EU is more likely to see an influx of financial services, as happened in Ireland after Brexit, while existing banks and financial services companies would have to register in Scotland in order to continue operating here.

Without Scotland’s vast energy resources, Ireland’s debt to GDP is 54 per cent compared to the UK’s 96.6 percent and as a country, with a £6 billion budget surplus, Ireland can borrow on the international markets at a cheaper rate than the UK which faces long term austerity out of the EU and with a national debt of £2740 billion.

It can be argued that an independent Scotland would not be liable for a share of the UK debt without a pro rata share of the UK’s world-wide assets and if we taxed oil and gas companies at Norwegian levels, there should be no deficit.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Green transition

The Scotsman editorial of 8 October (‘This isn’t the way to save the planet’) highlights the problem of a Green transition when all the factors are not addressed.

It is claimed that ' Scotland needs to reduce production of fossil fuels ' when, in The Scotsman of 5 October, an article by Ashley Kelty points out that, over the summer heatwave, wind turbines failed to step up to the mark and did not meet system demand due to an anticyclone over Europe.

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Only the import of electricity from English gas-fired power stations prevented the lights going out in Scottish schools, hospitals and medical centres due to the failure of a design from the Middle Ages!

What the editorial also failed to mention is the proposed construction of a 900MW gas-fired plant at Peterhead which will remain operational until 2080 or the proposed source of energy for the plant.

As this brings the total capacity of the site up to 3300MW that is a demand for a lot of gas over the next 50 years and, as current oil and gas wells in the North Sea will be uneconomic by 2045, just where is Peterhead going to obtain supplies if there is a ban on further exploration in UK waters?

What is certain is that not a single question detailed above will be addressed at the SNP conference in Aberdeen. Just like the five resignations from the Scottish Covid inquiry, all be will ignored by every delegate attending the SNP conference!

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas

Bailing out

In the old days when sailors saw the rats jump ship they reached for their lifebelts.

When I read about Jacob Rees-Mogg’s business partner, Dominic Johnson, a rich financier who has donated over £300,000 to the Conservative Party, being made a Minister of State and a Peer, I realized that the Tory grandees see disaster ahead and are preparing for it.

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Naturally Rees-Mogg holds an unpaid partnership in Somerset Capital Management, which he co-founded with Johnson. Now the firm is apparently for sale and possibly realising millions of ponds for both owners.

When the Tory grandees at Westminster are feathering their nests for a long, long time in opposition - what actors call “resting” – it is seriously time for Scottish Tories to consider whether they would not rather have a hand in building a new Scotland than sinking below the waves of political oblivion in a foundering UK.

I am sure “Scottish Tories for Independence” would be welcome guests at the SNP conference.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh

Arts and crafts

A wee word of advice to the Countess and Earl of Wemyss and March for their audacious attempt to sue art dealer Simon Dickinson because the painting they sold to him for £1 million he sold on for £10 million after deep cleaning it.In the real world, if someone goes to the trouble of restoring second hand goods to market condition, its value increases. That is the just fruits of their labour

If you neglect to care for your property, one is not entitled to future sale compensation, no matter how many titles one has - art is not akin to an apprentice footballer.By the way, the vast majority of the sane population wouldn't give you tuppence for Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin’s "Le Benedicite" anyway: a dreary little piece holding no candle to Charles Jervas' "Dorothy Walpole" (1710) or a Scottie Wilson in his prime.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone

Health premium

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Many who live in Scotland are being forced to go private for dental and medical treatments, the majority of whom cannot afford it.

These people have been paying National Insurance and taxes for many years.

Up will jump the First Minister and her loyal followers who will quote "It's much worse in England".

That is irrelevant since the NHS has been devolved since 1 July 1999 and the SNP has controlled Scotland's devolved legislature since the 2007 election.

Taxation is a devolved issue so Nicola Sturgeon, famous for her "Where Scotland leads others will follow", utterings could steal a march on Westminster and announce that those forced to go to private doctors and dentists for treatment will be able to claim tax relief at 21 per cent.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow

Tackling suicide

With World Mental Health Day next week (October 20), suicide prevention charity R;pple is calling on UK employers to do more to prioritise mental health and suicide as part of their health and safety policies.

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R;pple research shows the clear disparity between the effect that work can have on mental wellbeing vs a troubling lack of suicide prevention policy and current mental health policy that is merely there to tick a box.

The latest findings from R;pple show a staggering 1 in 4 employees in the UK have experienced suicidal thoughts at work. Of those polled in Aberdeen, just 28 per cent would be comfortable talking to their line manger about possible struggles with mental health.

R;pple is therefore calling on businesses to become more accountable and put as much energy into suicide prevention as they do their fire escapes.

While fire drills and marshals are common practice for workplaces, and Fire Action signs having been a legal requirement since 2007, the UK, unlike many other countries, does not monitor, investigate, regulate or legally recognise work-related suicides – with a person 62 times more likely to die from suicide (1 in 88) than in a fire (1 in 5447).

With 75.5 per cent of 16–64-year-olds employed in the UK as of August, and an ongoing cost of living crisis affecting us all, the simple fact is employers must do more to protect the mental wellbeing and safety of their staff.

It would of course be wrong to lay the sole responsibility of mental health and suicide at the door of each workplace, but with the average full-time working week comprising 35+ hours, it is reasonable to expect employers to take action to prevent potentially fatal outcomes for its staff.

Suicide is preventable; employers must do more to ensure that it is.

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Alice Hendy, Founder, R;pple

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