Readers' Letters: Black’s condemnation of Sunak is a bit rich

Chipping in to the Tory leader debate, SNP MP Mhairi Black criticises Rishi Sunak for being “the richest MP in Westminster”. I've no idea if she's right, but I do know both Black and Sunak are products of comfortable, professional middle-class backgrounds.

At the age of 20, Black was earning around £74,000, increasing to over £85,000 today, plus she has claimed expenses of well in excess of a million pounds since being elected. To contextualise: the average median annual gross salary in Scotland is £26,000, demonstrating that Black – whose Commons attendance record over the years has hardly been flawless – is comparatively extremely well remunerated, even before her generous expenses allowance.

She claims Sunak's financial position separates him from reality; many would argue the same of Black's. She may not be as wealthy as him but, unless she has shockingly neglected her personal finances since being elected seven years ago, compared to most Black is an extraordinarily comfortably-off young person.

Perhaps she should reflect on this before launching into her Commons peers with such ill-advised ad hominem attacks?

SNP MP Mhairi Black reckons Rishi Sunak is distanced from struggling young people, but she's relatively rich herself, says reader (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire

Paisley parked

Victor Clements is correct in his summary of Scottish MPs who have held high office and influence in the corridors of Westminster (Letters, 5 August). This is in stark contrast to the rabble who currently and embarrassingly preach cant and disunity from the benches of the SNP.

Pandering to the Nationalists has cost Scotland dear. The cost of building and running Holyrood has robbed Local Authorities of the ability to efficiently manage essential services as they did previously. The funds required to feed the huge administrative appetite of the devolved parliament would be better spent on essential workers and failing infrastructure. The SNP know that if you repeat a lie often enough people will believe it. Nicola Sturgeon is a master of that particular deceit while presiding over a shambolic administration. There is no question that Scotland was better served when Westminster rang with the accents of Scots in positions of power.

If Liz Truss does become our next Prime Minister she might just have what it takes to unify rather than divide. As they say, you can take the girl out of Paisley but you can’t remove Paisley from the girl.

Jane Ball, Cardrona, Scottish Borders

Vote with heart

It seems the choice in the Conservative leadership campaign is between a message designed to appeal to the personal interests of the immediate electorate, and one which has the needs and votes of the wider electorate – and a general election – in mind.

The former is Liz Truss's promise to scrap the National Insurance rise, cut taxes and minimise targeted financial help, funded by borrowing and hoped-for growth, fuelled by an inflationary spending boom. Rishi Sunak has realised none of the above will help the people who will be most affected by the cost of living crisis because they don't pay much tax or NI and the borrowing to pay for Truss's lower taxes will force up interest rates and the value of the pound, which will make our exports more expensive.

I just hope enough party members think beyond their own pockets and vote for what's best for the country and their party's fortunes at the next general election.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

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Community aid

How glad I am to see Elizabeth Scott’s passionate plea for the Kirk’s priority to be to come out of its bunker and help the poor (Letters, 6 August). But while it is indeed a pity that the Central Offices of the Church of Scotland do not display – to the needy and the concerned among the passing public in George Street, Edinburgh – ways that the National Church actually is responding to the national crisis, the reality is that strenuous efforts to help people in hardship are being made where people live, by parish churches across the country.

Now, it is a salutary lesson that a committed and campaigning member of the Kirk knows about the characteristic generosity of the Sikh Community in Leith but does not realise that the kinds of love-in-action she rightly specifies as essential and urgent for our integrity as the Christian Church are actually part of the normal ongoing life of church congregations today, as they have been for centuries.

I can testify that in my more than 25 years as Minister of South Leith, the church distributed hard cash to Leithers in need, week in and week out – some of it from bequests going back to King James VI! On Sundays, Church members handed in tins and packets of food which were made available somewhere every day at the church, the halls or the manse: and this started long before the term “food bank” was heard of. When well-off and not so well-off Leithers had given enough money to build New Halls in Henderson Street in 1982, the Kirk Session took over responsibility for the Leith community-subsidised Monday-Friday Pensioners Lunch Club, started to make family clothing available on Saturdays and began to provide free Sunday breakfasts for the homeless – no conditions attached!I think that ticks all the boxes Elizabeth Scott rightly sees as what we must be doing – and making ourselves able to do more of as the economic situation gets worse for so many.But just where among the public today are the campaigners ready – as in 1945 – to increase their own taxes and to pressure the Government to change our unfair society?

(Rev) Jack Kellet, Innerleithen, Scottish Borders

Caring Kirk

Elizabeth Scott should know that for years the Church of Scotland has offered food banks in Leith open every weekday in four churches, North Leith, South Leith, Pilrig and St Andrews, Easter Road. From time to time Hibs invites fans to bring a donation for these food banks to a match, and we receive about eight tons of food each time!

Jenny Martin, Edinburgh

Fuel for thought

Leah Gunn Barrett undermines her whole argument by stating that “Scotland produces the majority of UK energy, both fossil fuel and renewables” (Letters, 6 August).

I consider it to be very important that readers are given the facts regarding electricity generation in Great Britain, and this statement is incorrect. The electricity output in 2021 totalled approximately 35 GW average per hour over the year. Contributing to this was approximately 13 GW from natural gas and coal, approximately 10.5 GW from nuclear and approximately 9.0 GW from renewable sources. Natural gas and nuclear provide approximately 23.5 GW, which is about 67 per cent of GB output and Scotland, with a very small proportion of this output, less than 3.8 per cent, shows that Ms Barrett's statement is well off the mark, even taking Scotland's renewable sources into account.

It is very unfortunate that arguments in respect of energy are politicised to the extent that they are and it would be much better if the very serious matter of climate change and the price of electricity was urgently addressed by an all-party group to provide policies based on evidence and facts. If this was done without political dogma, and with transparency, it could be shown to be in the public interest.

What is required from our government is an energy policy suitable for the next 30 years that will stand up to scrutiny. There is no sign of this being formulated anytime soon.

C Scott, Edinburgh

Grid expectations

There are several points in Leah Gunn Barrett's letter that must be challenged.

The National Grid is just what it says, a national grid, and the energy companies building wind turbines in Scotland knew that they had to pay to connect. Her saying that poorer families pay proportionately more for their electricity is to put it “bleeding obvious”. She uses Norway as a glowing example of renewables but Norway produces 90 per cent of its electricity from 1,681 hydro plants, not unreliable wind turbines.

Perhaps Ms Barrett can tell us why the SNP did not invest in more hydro power?

Not feasible or physically impossible? Foreign turbine owners are paid to produce electricity and are paid constraint payments not to produce electricity. She does not mention that the £1 billion of constraint payments made in the last ten years to the foreign owners of turbines in Scotland was added to the energy bills of all consumers in the UK.

If the English find out it is they who will be demanding Independence from Scotland.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Gas fears

Soon, newbuild houses are to be constructed without any gas supplies, which obviously means that to heat them, they'll require much more electricity.

I note that our major electricity suppliers predict that they should have enough power to meet our needs for the coming winter but that, if necessary, they can bring in further power supplies via the new cable from Norway and the existing cables from the Continent.

While that statement might have been true prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Germany, France and much of the Continent are slowly being deprived of Russian gas via the Gazprom company. By midwinter it may be that no Russian gas will reach people’s homes on the Continent.

That is why, at the moment, many families there are quietly buying up electric fires and electric radiators as if there is no tomorrow!

The end result might be that so much electricity is required to replace gas on the Continent that there might be no surplus power to export to the UK via the existing cables.

We await anxiously to see if the lack of Russian gas to the Continent will effect the electricity supply to our homes this winter.

Archibald A Lawrie, Kingskettle, Fife

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