Readers' Letters: Government attacking middle class families
Instead of setting aside £20 million for her next independence referendum Scots should demand it is used for a referendum on getting rid of devolved powers in Scotland before the SNP brings us to our knees – after all if they wipe out our middle class Scots or give them no option but to leave this country they won't have our taxes to use and abuse. How dare they treat us like idiots.
T Lamb, Aberdeen
15 long years
After listening to Finance Minister Kate Forbes addressing the Scottish Parliament on the looming £3.5 billion budget deficit, I was reminded of an old Glaswegian phrase often used by my mother, and one Nicola Sturgeon will be familiar with, namely “They couldnae run a Minodge”!The financial mismanagement of taxpayers money by this Scottish Government beggars belief. After treading water for nearly 15 years, the country is going backwards.They have failed to improve Education, Health, Transport and drug deaths, to name but a few, whilst squandering millions on vanity projects, vote-winning freebies, suspect green projects, numerous quangos, spin doctors, advisers, not to mention another referendum the majority of our citizens do not want.
After 15 years of SNP smoke and mirrors politics, the smoke is beginning to clear and the mirrors are reflecting the huge cost of this financial mismanagement.But of course, their stock response as always is, “it wisnae us, it was that big bad Boris and his band of Brexiteers”. The SNP government have trashed the country that gave us Adam Smith and once had a worldwide reputation for financial prudence and economic expertise.
Any private company with a balance sheet like theirs, if not put into administration, would have sacked the board immediately. Indeed, after sacking this cabinet, perhaps they should be given 15 years Community Service cleaning up our streets, filling in potholes and insulating our homes.
George M Primrose, Uddingston, Glasgow
Shield or suicide?
With reference to your editorial of 2 June, the UK does not have a policy of nuclear weapons deterrence – Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Theresa May said she would fire the UK’s nuclear weapons as a “first strike”, and Baroness Goldie said in the Lords on 23 June 2021, “The UK has neither a first-use nor a no-first-use policy… we will remain deliberately ambiguous about when, how and at what scale we will use nuclear weapons.”
The Trident system is not truly independent. It uses Trident II D-5 missiles, developed and maintained – and ultimately controlled? – by the USA. The Eighth Report of the Defence Select Committee stated: “The UK has title to 58 missiles. Aside from those currently deployed, the missiles are held in a communal pool at the US Strategic Weapons facility at King's Bay, Georgia, USA. Maintenance and in-service support of the missiles is undertaken at periodic intervals at King's Bay, normally after a submarine has been through refit.”
If I were an enemy of the UK at risk of a preemptive nuclear weapons attack from the UK, I would have the 100-odd nuclear warheads stored in reinforced concrete bunkers at Coulport at the top of my target list for my preemptive strike.
Next on my target list would be Trident control and command centres elsewhere in the UK. Trident’s not a “shield” but a suicide risk.
E Campbell, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire
Frances Scott (Letters, 2 June) is right to point out that UK Treasury taxation revenues from Scotland’s North Sea for several years to come will dwarf any estimated Scottish Government budget shortfall.
Under devolution, any Scottish government would face impossible budget choices when high UK inflation, caused by disastrous Westminster policies on Brexit, Covid and energy supply, means a much-reduced block grant in real terms. The reliance on income tax, as the only alternative source to plug the shortfall, is undermined if the UK decides to reduce income tax rather than spend its way out of austerity. The Scottish government has to balance its books every year and cannot print money or run up a national debt of £2700 billion, or £43,000 per head, as in the UK.
Scotland outperforms the rest of the UK and Europe in attracting foreign investment that created 10,000 jobs in the last year, highlighting Scotland’s strength in high-value, high-growth industries like digital, clean technology and life sciences. It is an attractive location with a highly educated workforce thanks to good business networks and Scottish Government agencies’ support.
Without the normal fiscal powers of independence to unleash Scotland’s vast potential, we will be held back and can’t maintain the best public services in the UK we have come to enjoy or mitigate the devastating UK government austerity that has caused lower life expectancy.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh
A new dawn
Anas Sarwar came of age this week in Holyrood. His forensic questioning of the First Minister – together with that of the other non-nationalist leaders – was superb.
He has learned in the job. It was framed in a way to prevent as much obfuscation and scrambling for spinner-prepared crib folders as we normally have to suffer and his comparisons of the figures waiting for serious operations when the SNP came to power all those years ago and those waiting now was perfect. The sense of change in the political air is almost tangible.
Everyone, apart from zealous nationalists, knew this time would come and Old Abe’s dictum of being unable to fool all of the people all of the time has been proven correct once more.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh
It all adds up
Although all major political parties supported the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence, criticism has arisen from some who do not appear to appreciate CforE’s wide objectives or from others who would prefer to return Scotland to reliance on the narrower teaching programmes of the past. While Scotland was recently lauded for leading Europe in the degree-level education of its people (EuroStat research 2011-19), some continue to criticise Scottish state-school education based on outdated concepts, selective statistics and limited league tables.
When in Austria recently I turned on the TV in my hotel room to listen to one of the few channels broadcast in English, France 24, and was interested to hear discussion around declining rates of proficiency in maths to the extent that today many applying to study engineering at French universities do not have the level of maths education considered sufficient for their chosen courses, and that there were particular issues in relation to encouraging more girls to learn maths. This interest turned to pleasant surprise when the one country singled out as an example where more progress is being made in this regard was Scotland.
Is it too much to hope that before we read another letter denigrating the standard of Scottish education that the writer has first taken the time to broadly and objectively consider what teaching is best suited to enabling all Scotland’s youth to successfully and responsibly achieve their career and life ambitions in today’s world?
Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian
I note that a group of social scientists from Aberdeen Business School at Robert Gordon University (RGU) are seeking grant assistance so that “Communities can close a knowledge gap on decarbonising effects” (Perspective, 31 May). Doubtless those who scrutinise the obscure, vague and convoluted phraseology used to justify this RGU application will give it the nod of approval for the simple reason that is relates to “mitigating” climate change. They will join the multitude of university research facilities eager to accept funding in order to climb aboard the already overcrowded climate gravy train in order to advance the “warming regulatory agenda”.
There is a process known as The Amplifying Cascade of Systemic Bias which is defined as any scientific activity where the prospect of funding influences the results in a way that benefits the funder. This encompasses questions such as 1) Does bias funding skew in a preferred direction a result that supports an agency mission or policy? 2) Do directives steer funding towards specific research areas by posing specific questions? 3) Do computer models tend to favour a particular agenda? 4) Is there a tendency towards failure to report negative results and/or manipulate data to bias results and present conjecture as fact? Aligning your programme/agency to political imperatives is all too frequently seen as the key to success.
Governments already have in place teams of social scientists, known as the Behavioural Insights Team, popularly known as Nudge Units, which “encourage” public thinking in preferred directions in order to improve compliance with government policies. We are already seeing carrots being offered and sticks being wielded to ensure that businesses fall into line with the net zero agenda. This bears a growing and concerning resemblance to China's social credit system whereby every business and citizen is evaluated according to how polluting they are deemed to be and rewarded or punished accordingly. Are we on the edge of a slippery slope?
Neil J Bryce, Kelso, Scottish Borders
Let us assume that the Prime Minister has eventually conceded to an independence referendum, but this time it is not Scotland but England, that has won the chance to vote on remaining or leaving the United Kingdom.
In this event and given the constant reminders that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland get more out than they put in to the public purse, what arguments would be made by those seeking to keep England in the UK?
Stuart Smith, Aberdeen
Write to The Scotsman
We welcome your thoughts. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number – we won't print full details. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid 'Letters to the Editor/Readers’ Letters' or similar in your subject line. Do not send letters submitted elsewhere. If referring to an article, include date, page number and heading.
Subscribe at www.scotsman.com/subscriptions
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.