Readers' Letters: Government should not hide from criticism

Any openly democratic government must not only accept criticism but should welcome it.

Angiolina Foster, the new Chair of Public Health Scotland, has a chance to 'get house in order' says reader

Unfortunately, criticism of any sort (internal or external) is actively avoided by the current Government in Holyrood. To such an extent, it would now appear, that a supposedly independent public body has been covering the backs of SNP ministers, ("Health watchdog shielding SNP ministers now hidden from public after controversy," 14 September).

In response to this revelation I sincerely hope that the newly installed Chair of Public Health Scotland, Angiolina Foster, gets the house in order – having just taken on the role she deserves to be given a chance to do so. As for those in Holyrood who appear to hide from scrutiny at every opportunity, perhaps they should recall that throughout his time in office, US President Harry S Truman kept a plaque on his desk stating, "The buck stops here". Sadly, I have a feeling that if current Scottish ministers had a similar plaque on their desks it could only read, “Buck, what buck?”

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Michael J Laggan, Newton of Balcanquhal, Perthshire

Selfish act

Choosing not to wear a mask is a selfish act and nothing to be proud of (Andy May, Letters 14 September), as the whole point is to protect others as well as yourself from Covid transmission, particularly in crowded areas.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the chief of the BMA, told its annual meeting that Boris Johnson’s so-called Freedom Day was a “gamble” that has since contributed to almost 40,000 hospital admissions and more than 4,000 deaths.

Mr Johnson’s failure to close the UK borders or take Covid seriously in spring 2020 has resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths and ruined thousands of businesses. Despite having no control over cross-border travel, Nicola Sturgeon has dealt with the Covid pandemic much better than Mr Johnson, who allowed travel from India after the current Delta variant was identified.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

The bright side

Jane Lax (Letters, 14 September) is somewhat uncharitable to Nicola Sturgeon. She mentions only the first minister's failure to fulfil her fanfare promise in 2017 to create a publicly owned energy company. No mention is made of its replacement – a "dedicated public national energy agency". Ms Lax should view this development in the spirit of poet Tom Leonard commenting on a government contribution to an area of multiple deprivation – "it last thiv sent uz a liaison co-ordinator". Just think of the impact an energy advisory body will have on the reduction of fuel poverty!

Nor is there any mention of the other gratifying announcement. The feasibility study into the abandoned policy only cost the Scottish taxpayer £493,000! Compared to the hundreds of millions spent on Prestwick airport, BiFab, Ferguson Marine etc this is an object lesson in how to handle the public finances.

Take off the blinkers, Ms Lax, and look on the bright side. Any day now you will be receiving world class advice on your energy requirements. You might even get advice on how to switch companies – only not to a publicly owned, not-for-profit Scottish one.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Game over

In her speech/rant to the faithful at the SNP conference, Nicola Sturgeon “accused the UK Government of making Scotland poorer in order to demoralise it and bind it more tightly to the Union”. She then wants “a spirit of co-operation between the Scottish Government and Westminster”.

These are ramblings of a tired, paranoid, defeated politician. Nothing new to say, no new policies, just blame, blame, blame. It’s been the same story for years, kicking the independence can down the road, pandering to the faithful who are very easily pleased and encouraged. These supporters are manipulated and subjugated by emotionally driven “politicians” trying to hold on to their lucrative sinecures for as long as possible.

Nicola, the game is up.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire

Sheer dross

In his letter of 14 September Les Mackay trots out the usual SNP drivel about the UK Government being the nasty people and treating the Scottish Government like lackeys, and states that “the imposed Brexit wreaks havoc”.

Therein lies the problem with the Nationalists – the so-called “imposed Brexit” was, if I recall, “imposed” upon us after a referendum held over the whole of the UK, a UK that is in existence because of another “imposed” decision by the people of Scotland to remain in the UK and not shoot ourselves in both feet by leaving the Union and facing utter economic destruction and the guaranteed social consequences of such a decision.

To hear the continued wailing of the Nats and their unbreakable ability to decide what was a fair referendum and what isn’t defines their politics – based on what is right for the cause and what is not. With the masters of spin now beavering away at the new “White Paper for freedom”, I am sure I am not alone thinking that the skills of JK Rowling and other fantasy geniuses will be required to get us to even contemplate voting Yes in any possible future referendum.

I also note that in his letter, Mr Mackay states that “Boris and his gang undermine our elected Scottish Government, and remove the powers of our devolved parliament”.

To use his own words “what a lot of dross!”.

No such thing has happened, what has happened is that some public spending money is being put straight to the purpose it is intended for, rather than letting the grubby sticky fingers of the SNP/Greens do with the cash as they see fit – we’re still waiting to hear where that £600,000 has gone, not to mention the missing £4 billion from the £13 billion the UK government gave to Scotland for business recovery and assistance.

The list of failures and false promises are endless, yet not one SNP apologist ever attempts to defend the SNP when they are brought up – they merely ignore and start afresh on the next false promise or soundbite.

We are being taken for “lackeys” by our own Government, not by “Boris and his gang”. As Napoleon once said, “lions led by donkeys”, how fitting indeed.

David Millar, Lauder, Scottish Borders

On thin ice

Does Nicola Sturgeon really want Indyref2? She knew Boris Johnson would not co-operate because he has no need to. (“Sturgeon's call to work together is dismissed”, 14 September).

Ms Sturgeon's insistence that a "legal referendum would be held in 2023" falls at the very first hurdle. Not only has she no power to call this, she has no democratic right either. On the basis of one person, one vote, which is the true test of intention in a referendum, the mainstream pro-Union parties polled 38,462 more votes than the pro-independence ones in the 2021 Holyrood election. Ms Sturgeon has simply made herself hostage to fortune because she cannot continue to make grandiose claims about imminent referendums without delivering. She is skating on very thin ice.

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Power vacuum

The Scotsman editorial claims that we will become a major exporter of electricity due mainly to renewable energy (“Climate change is the business opportunity of the century for Scotland – Scotsman comment”, 13 September).That's optimistic: last week, due to anticyclonic weather, UK wind-powered generation fell so low that coal-fired generation had to be brought back. It was probably the same in Scotland, although we have no coal plants left.All renewable generation is spasmodic and largely unpredictable. In addition, the increased substitution of electricity for heating and transport will put a huge demand on the electricity network. Once Scotland's two nuclear stations close, we will probably have to rely on imports from England and will have no surplus to export.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Chinese burn

The Scotsman has for many years been prepared to publish readers’ varying views on any subject and this approach has led to loyal readers and writers. However I was surprised to see your editorial using emotive words like "Luddites" and "climate change deniers" ("The opportunity of the century is here”, 13 September). It is a pity that the editorial did not chastise China, the world's biggest polluter, responsible for 27 per cent of global emissions and about to get worse. China is building 60 new coal-fired power stations and planning more. China is already increasing its emissions at an annual rate that is greater than the savings of the rest of the world put together. China says it will work towards "peak emissions" by 2030 and "Net Zero" by 2060 but refuses to give details. China and numerous other nations have refused to provide their emission reduction targets for discussion at COP26.

The Greens and the Luddites must both find this shocking.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Blown away

Your feature about the opportunities offered by climate change fails to mention our government’s inability to capitalise on this. Scotland’s windmills have been made abroad, and the thousands of jobs promised have been just hundreds. With nearly 11,000 windmills onshore – 76 per cent of the UK total – no benefit has been felt.

Also an independent Scotland faces paying millions in constraint payments, presently paid by Westminster, and when the windmills have to be replaced, that cost will also fall to Scotland.

Scotland has in fact contrived to become worse off because of climate change.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Kinross

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' or similar in your subject line.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.