Readers' Letters: Fair scunnert by SNP MSPs’ attempts at Scots

A video of Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville’s Holyrood statement the on the Scots “language” on Tuesday has gone viral on Twitter due to her mangled delivery of a script written in Scots reminiscent of Constable Crabtree of Allo Allo’s “Grittest hoots”.

She even managed to pronounce what the written record shows as “These ootstandin resources” as “ootstoondin” .

It was only topped by Emma Harper MSP’s stuttering delivery of her scripted contribution which contained the bewildering sentence “The Scots leid is a michtie important pairt o Scotland’s cultural heirship, kythin in sang, poems and leeterature, and in ilkaday yaise in wir communities forby”.which turned the farcical into the unintelligible.

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What amazes me, as someone who faces blank stares when I all too easily slide into the mumbled West Lothian-speak of my youth, is that not one single participant in the debate pulled up these two for their obvious inability to actually speak the language they tout.

Shirley-Anne Somerville's pronunciation while attempting to show off the Scots tongue reminded reader of 'Allo 'Allo (Picture: Fraser Bremner - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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Or point out, as everyone I know has or would say, they have never, ever, heard ordinary Scots talk like this.

And in these days of inclusion and desire for more immigration and social mobility, the extra barriers this weird, middle class amalgam of an array of accents and dialects puts in front of them.

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As Goad is ma wutniss ah'm fair scunnert!

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

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Tough choices

The Auditor General is warning that SNP ministers have been too slow to react to financial pressures (“Holyrood faces ‘real risk’ of first budget overspend in history”, Scotsman Online, 17 November). Finance Secretary Kate Forbes warned that the public sector required reshaping with staff levels and the number of quangos needing to be reduced. John Swinney would have been aware of this warning when he stepped in to cover Ms Forbes’ maternity leave but nothing has been done.

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The number of quangos has increased by a third in the last ten years with the cost of government increasing from £2 billion to £4.5bn. The SNP government continue to spend £9m on overseas offices that duplicate the work of British embassies. They spend £20m on constitutional issues, having used at least 20 civil servant staff to produce the first of their series of papers campaigning for independence.

The SNP seem to be burying their heads in the sand on having to deal with the impact of inflation and are not cutting their coat according to their cloth. Of course, it is easy to just blame Westminster for not increasing your budget. The impact, however, will be that next year’s budget would be reduced by any overspend, perpetuating the issue. The SNP need to wake up to the fact that the current economic situation requires them to make tough choices and they need to make them now. They could start with the examples given above.

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Jane Lax, Aberlour, Moray

Swinney challenge

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As John Swinney seems ready to raid Nicola Sturgeon’s cache of perceived grievances against Westminster to account for a possible overspend in the Scottish budget, it’s surely relevant to consider the Auditor General’s warning that Holyrood has been slow to undertake a much-needed review and reform of public services in Scotland allowing financial pressures to build up.

Of course, there can never be enough money coming from the UK Government to cover all of Scotland’s needs but one would expect all the monies received to be used wisely and that is certainly not the case with the SNP government. Mr Swinney should put his own house in order.

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Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Tory failings

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This government claims to be acting wisely in its effort to combat inflation with austerity. But Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey's candour on the effect of Tory economic policies can leave the country in no doubt that Tory profligacy in general has got us into this mess.

It’s not just the story of markets being shocked by the mini-Budget. Disbelief was as important as shock because few market movers and shakers nowadays believe in the simple philosophy of cutting taxes to stimulate growth. Mr Bailey tells us that Brexit has reduced our productivity massively. It has also increased prices of food imports and cut access to invaluable workers.

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So the respectable government of Brexit-supporting premier Rishi Sunak can’t simply pass all blame for our demise onto the usual Liz Truss associates, mini-Budget and all.

In the months ahead people will want to investigate why, on the Tory Party’s watch, our country has done so badly compared to others in G7 in terms of GDP, productivity and recovering from Covid. There was a fatal arrogance during these post-Brown years and a cavalier attitude to truth, to managing costs, to wastage of money on railway and nuclear projects and to making the rich pay their share. A smiling, clean-shaven premier won't make us forget that.

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Andrew Vass, Edinburgh

Easing inflation

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I have great respect for economist John McLaren and always read his articles with interest and care, but when he says that there is no way of easing inflation because it is imported, and that the only possible action is making distributional choices, he is, frankly, wrong (Perspective, 16 November).

A news item the previous day highlighted the fact that electricity prices are tied to gas prices and have escalated along with gas prices – such that a kWh of electricity now costs more than three times as much as a kWh of gas, even though renewable energy produced by solar, wind or nuclear is much cheaper. The reason for this is a UK pricing decision/convention which ties the price of electricity to that of gas, regardless of how it is produced. This decision is unnecessary and adds some £18 billion to energy bills, as well as gifting excess profits to green energy producers. Westminster could and should change the pricing convention and so, at a stroke, reduce the energy bills of nearly everyone in the UK. At the same time they could remove the requirement of bill payers to pick up the costs of the failed electricity companies which are there as a result of a UK government decision to privatise energy supply and then regulate it poorly.

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There are definitely things which can be done in the UK to reduce inflation, even if that part which comes from international causes cannot be affected. The pricing scandal is something which deserves front page banner headlines, not a small news item on page 9 (News, same day).

Judith Gillespie, Edinburgh

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Rain for idiots

There are now Met Office Yellow and Amber warnings for rain. Very soon they will be putting up signs to tell you when it is getting dark.

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Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Kinross

Booze loophole

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I was interested in the letter from Alastair MacGilchrist and Alison Douglas in defence of Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol in Scotland (17 November). Their position is one of ever-increasing prices as a means of combating alcohol intake in Scotland. Of course, the ultimate test of that sort of approach was adopted by the USA during Prohibition, which was a total failure as human nature simply finds ways around such blanket policies.

The problem is not best dealt with by pricing, as those with a drink problem will simply skimp on other expenditure to fuel their habit and we all know that. Equally, in a state with two legal systems, such as Great Britain, the MUP in Scotland comes up against an open border to England, where MUP does not apply. Booze is, therefore, much cheaper over the Border and the off-licences in Berwick and Carlisle are the beneficiaries of increased pricing north of the Border.

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Indeed, a friend popped into a major store in Carlisle on his way north, thinking that he might buy three litres of whisky and save £15 or so. At the till, the lady he paid said, “You're from Scotland, aren't you?”

He asked why she said that, only to be told that they have many visits from north of the Border seeking to stock up – to the benefit of their bank balances, if not their livers – which explains, in part, reduced sales in Scotland.

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The solution to the drink problem is the same as the solution to Scotland’s drug problem, which is not MUP. It is dealing with the root cause of the problem, and that is not governed by price.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

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Preaching to choir

Many letters in The Scotsman preach to the converted in articulating the issues which show the SNP to be rather less competent than required to meet the needs of the country.

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These need to be disseminated to those who continue to believe all the porky pies and dismissals of responsibility to secure the demise of the SNP and Greens as is.

The opposition parties don't seem to be doing that effectively from what I see.

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Derek Sharp, Edinburgh

Happy in dark

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Peter Cheyne believes “Scotland is crying out for love and attention” (Letters, 16 November). He further states, “I love my country but feel the only way to change direction is by independence”. My impression is that the majority of those who crave independence only have emotional reasons for doing so. Never economics, never financial facts, nothing to show how Scots will be better off, nothing to show if our children and grandchildren will prosper.

Unfortunately, far too many Scots are happy to take a completely unknown and untested course because it appears no one on the independence side is prepared or willing to tell them exactly how it will be.

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Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire

Write to The Scotsman

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