Readers' letters: Government’s track record bodes ill for ScotRail

Even the most ardent supporters of nationalisation must be filled with doubts over the Scottish government's intended running of Scotland's trains.

ScotRail trains are currently operated by Abellio (Pictture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)
ScotRail trains are currently operated by Abellio (Pictture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)

The pandemic has caused serious problems for ScotRail with the use of the railways cut drastically and it's hard to see how the Scottish Government can remedy the situation without spending extraordinary amounts of public money.

With the government's past track record on dealing with the country's transport infrastructure covering such gems as Prestwick Airport, Ferguson Marine and the Rest and Be Thankful debacle, the odds that we will have a rail system fit for the 21st century don't look very appealing. There will probably be another quango appointed to run the trains as ministers try to avoid blame for any future failures.

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Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Threat or promise

The Scottish Transport Secretary has announced that the SNP will take ScotRail into public ownership when its franchise runs out in 2022. As the popular saying goes, is that a threat or a promise? Given the rusting ferries on the Clyde, the Rest and be Thankful almost permanently closed to traffic and the promised Forth Crossing which would never close but which appears to close almost routinely in cold weather, I know which one I think it is.

Public ownership of ScotRail may be an issue of principle for some but for those left standing on platforms when trains are late or cancelled, reliability is far more important. The SNP are long on rhetoric and headlines but short on evidence of making things work. Maybe once they open a hospital on time or subsidise an industry which doesn't subsequently go bust we could be confident that they could run a railway.

Carole Ford, Terregles Avenue, Glasgow

In dependence

I see that the EU are trying again to block vaccine manufacturers in Europe from sending doses to Britain. The UK were quick off the mark ordering millions of doses while the EU were as they often are, at the cow’s tail and are now madly trying to catch up. These manufacturers I have no doubt have contracts to send supplies to the UK and to have the EU trying to bully them not to fulfil these contracts is nothing short of disgraceful. And this is an institution that Nicola Sturgeon is desperate to join if she manages to win an Independence referendum.

Jack Watt, Berstane Loan, St Ola, Orkney

Flawed argument

Victor Clements (Letters, March 16) says, “we need a means whereby people in Scotland can appeal to government at a UK level to deal with problems in which the government itself may be implicated".

Note, not the people or particular groups or organisations of people, but just any old person can take complaints to the UK government. I'm sure that government would be delighted to hear that, but are they the paragons of governmental integrity and efficiency best suited for the task? This is the government which illegally prorogued parliament. The government which threatened to break international law and has recently done just that. The government which has been found to have been in breach of the law with regard to the issue of contracts and of having misled parliament on their procurement. The government which gave contracts worth millions of pounds to Conservative party donors. The government with a Home Secretary who has been found guilty of bullying. The government which spent £37 billion on test and trace contracts which work out at a cost of £40,000 per person traced and tested when Ireland has a more efficient system which cost around £770,000.

Mr Clements says we need this system if we “want to salvage our self-esteem and pride”. It doesn't take a genius to work out that adopting such a proposal would be the very antithesis of the statement. Personally I'd like to see it proposed by the Westminster government. I can imagine no better recruiting sergeant for the independence movement.

Gill Turner, Derby Street, Edinburgh

I’m still waiting

I’m 69 and have been trying for three weeks to get a Covid vaccination appointment. In that time, upwards of half a million people in lower JCVI priority groups than me have been vaccinated by NHS Scotland.Does this mean the First Minister’s “overall duty to vaccinate the most vulnerable first” set out in her statement to Parliament on January 4 was simply hot air intended to make her sound caring, or has she been let down by an incompetent Health Secretary?Brian Green, Allanfield, Edinburgh

A question

How can we hold a Scottish Parliament election in May while still under lockdown, where social mixing will occur, but can't follow rUK in holding a Census this month where there will be no social mixing at all (your report, March 18)? Is this another example of the Scottish Government's “not invented here” tendency?

Steuart Campbell, Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Going viral?

How interesting that the Census is being delayed for a year, because of the pandemic, yet an election will be taking place, pandemic or not. It seems to me that there will be a lot more social mixing in an election than there will be in a census.

William Ballantine, Dean Road, Bo'ness

Priorities

I understand this is the year we undertake the next population Census, which will help shape policies and trends over the coming years. England, Northern Ireland and Wales are all ready to go. It seems our First Minister has been so busy with Covid she did not find time to instruct the Civil Servants to carry out the work so we will not be taking part until next year. Yet I read that time has been made to ask the UK Electoral watchdog to have a change made to the May ballot paper to include the term “Indyref2”. It shows where the SNP’s priorities lie and how they assume they will be in power to carry out the census.

Elizabeth Hands, Etna Court, Armadale

Titanic fail

Alexander McKay’s letter of March 18 is so true, but it is the view of this other elderly man that he is being too kind to those running the Scottish Government. His description is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Titanic disaster which has befallen our wonderful country.

Colin Manson, Main Street, Gullane

No China crisis

On page 5 of your March 17 edition you report that the Prime Minister perceives a threat from China, and, on the same page, that the former head of MI6 “warns China represents a generational threat”, but on page 13 write “...ministers published a review of post-Brexit foreign policy which includes plans for a positive trade and investment relationship with China”, and Dominic Raab says “If we restrict [trade deals] to countries with EHCR-level standards of human rights, we’re not going to do many trade deals.”

There are many things that may be said against the Chinese government, but a threat to the UK is not one of them, certainly not a threat for which nuclear weapons are an appropriate response. China has experienced existential threats from the West during the last two centuries, and, now that it is strong, is asserting its power in its home waters, asserting every hectare of its territorial extent, and national homogeneity, by enforced cultural assimilation if necessary. This may be obnoxious, but it is much the same as the ways in which Britain, other European countries and the US acquired the world hegemony to which they believe, or used to believe, themselves entitled. China has recently sent large numbers of its brightest students to UK universities, who are likely to have returned to China well disposed to the UK, and who are likely become influential as they get older. Hardly the actions of a potential enemy.

I suggest we try to get on as well as we can with China, and not get dragged into a cold war on Uncle Sam’s coat-tails.

Roger West, Swanston View, Edinburgh

Chinese takeaway

China switched to state capitalism and became a formidable competitor. They were beating us at our own game. But that was OK. This was, according to free trade advocates, a classic win-win situation. More trade means more interaction and less misunderstanding. So much for theory. Pride, alas, won out. It was Trump who led the way, demanding that the new boy on the block be pulled down a peg or two. The Biden administration is similarly minded. In other words, America has embarked upon a new cold war. Now we are told China seeks global domination. But it is only America that, terrifyingly combines being armed to the teeth with a belief that it is ordained to impose its values on the world. China, lacks such Messianic zeal. Unlike America, China does not strut the world proclaiming its extraterritorial powers. Worse still, US preeminence on matters economic and military can no longer be taken for granted. A waning hegemony is a dangerous creature. It’s time the UK acknowledged the emergence of a multi-polar world with its checks and balances. So much for the Special Relationship. To paraphrase Palmerston, there are neither eternal allies nor perpetual enemies.

Yugo Kovach, Winterborn, Houghton, Dorset

Paper trail

Like Alexander McCall Smith (Perspective, March 17), I was touched by the Origami Kayak company's signing-off phrase "Blessings… and unfolding freedom". However, he should beware the potential conse quence of an Origami Kayak unfolding while on the water. A tad more "freedom" than expected?

Simon Trotter, Stirling Road. Edinburgh

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