Readers' letters: Ignore Nicola Sturgeon at your peril, Ms Truss

So the best way to deal with attention seekers like Nicola Sturgeon is to ignore them, says Liz Truss (Scotsman, 2 August). Perhaps then we should all ignore Ms Truss? She herself is not averse to seeking attention with announcements like her £30 billion tax giveaway which most independent economists agree is money she simply will not have available. Another Truss U-turn would be required, which comes with promising the Earth to get into power.

Ms Truss went on to add that she expects her policies to apply throughout the UK, which we can only take to mean that she intends to ride a coach and horses through the devolution settlement. Again an attention seeking announcement she will have to backtrack on unless she is planning a dictatorship.

Like our current Prime Minister she seems to have no respect for SNP leaders in Westminster and Holyrood even although Ms Sturgeon is still by some way the most popular leader in Scotland, and democratically elected to lead our nation, a fact to remember even if we don’t all agree with her policies.

Whether it is looking to crush the unions or paying public sector workers differently depending on where they live, Ms Truss does much to seek attention and court controversy just as her hero Margaret Thatcher did, to the consternation of much of the nation. Don’t be surprised then if Truss seeks to resurrect the poll tax in a different name, nothing would surprise me as she desperately seeks attention to secure the highest office in the UK.

Liz Truss's branding of Nicola Sturgeon as an 'attention seeker' has sparked controversy

The difference with Truss is that she has a track record of a lady who is for turning – she has to, given she seeks attention all the time and has to backtrack.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Johnson’s mantle

Readers of these pages will be in no doubt regarding my own views on Scottish nationalism. It is therefore with concern that I read of the latest pronouncements on the matter from Liz Truss during the present Conservative leadership election campaign.

Whilst I welcome her statement that, if successful, she would not countenance another Scottish independence referendum during her period in office, her specious suggestion that the First Minister is an “attention seeker” sets alarm bells ringing. What is a politician if not an attention seeker? Surely that is their raison d’être?

From Ms Truss’s point of view it might be wishful thinking that the First Minister should be ignored but this disrespectful remark may cause soft Unionists to reconsider their position if this is the true position of the party she claims to represent. All this during a process where the question of Scottish independence is a non-issue.

Miss Truss should think carefully before she assumes Boris Johnson’s mantle as the best advert for Scottish Independence.

David Edgar, Symington, South Lanarkshire

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Honest politician

In recent times we have been crying out for politicians who tell the truth. It is therefore odd that when Liz Truss does exactly that in calling Nicola Sturgeon an attention seeker she gets castigated for it.

Liz's honesty and willingness to be open and honest will get my vote.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Pot or kettle?

I am no fan of Liz Truss. How can she justify her comments about attention seeking?

An attention seeker is someone who takes selfies at every opportunity with celebrities, at high-profile events and tries to attract attention by commenting on matters outside his or her remit and at events where he or she has no locus. An attention seeker would take advantage of pandemics to maximise public appearances on and in the media. An attention seeker would promote other issues to deflect attention from failings in his or her day job.

How dare you, Liz.

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

Going private

I just received a letter from NHS Lothian confirming an outpatient appointment with Insource Medicare, a private healthcare provider. This will (one assumes) cost the NHS more than using its own staff. Multiply this by the number of appointments/firms used and it will seriously eat into the NHS budget, using up precious NHS funds. I’m told that future correspondence regarding my treatment will also come from Insource Medicare. I won’t be liable for any costs yet, but this is a stark example of the gradual privatisation of the Scottish Health Service.

It’s also a reminder that while we remain in a Union dominated by England with no voice and no ultimate control over how we are governed, the corporate takeover and dismantling of what remains of our publicly owned services – healthcare and water are especially targeted – will continue, even under a future Labour government.

The devolution settlement is fragile because power devolved to Scotland is power retained by Westminster. And now that we’ve been forced out of the EU, Westminster is busy pushing through the EU Withdrawal bill, where Section 38 asserts UK Parliamentary Sovereignty, a concept that doesn’t apply to Scotland as our constitutional foundation in the Claim of Right confirms that power rests with the people. To make matters worse, a new Act of Union is in the Westminster pipeline and will eviscerate any remaining control Scotland has over its own affairs.

The lights are blinking red. Is the SNP leadership even taking notice?

Margaret McGowan, Edinburgh

NHS numbers

Anent Hugh Pennington’s letter (1 August), the 1944 NHS White Paper and draft Bill included plans to combine the expertise and experience of both the voluntary hospitals (supported by charities and endowments) and the municipal hospitals run by local authorities.

A large measure of local management and autonomy would have been retained, possibly to the benefit of the NHS, versus Nye Bevan’s effective nationalising of all hospitals in a state-centric structure.

The 1955 Willink Committee on future training numbers included doctors. Its conclusions were based on data from 1953-55 and expressly assumed inter alia that no war or health service changes would occur or new scientific discoveries be made.

As one member said: “it dealt with imponderables so a degree of latitude must be allowed, and further deliberations would shortly be required” – which did in fact happen with the Committee’s conclusions recognised as overly optimistic.

Certainly, workforce planning has remained poor, as evidenced by Nicola Sturgeon’s reduction in nursing and midwifery places when she was Health Secretary!

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

Listening brief

I am writing to follow up on Murray MacLeod’s article of 21 July – “Listening to the people is the way forward”.

As Murray wrote, we have been working on the draft of the next National Gaelic Language Plan and as part of that, in the last three months, we held eight face-to-face meetings in the islands, three online as well as others nationally to find out what people thought. The views from these, along with others, will impact on the next version of the Plan.

I hope this assures your readers that listening to the people is important to us as well

Shona NicIllinnein, Chief executive, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Inverness, Highland

Starmer’s bind

Many people feel that Keir Starmer regularly fails to get across what Labour would do if he was in power.

We have some clues. Labour would not insist on wage restraint – if wages aren't allowed to creep up keep close to inflation we just drift into recession. Labour would support the most needy using progressive taxation including windfall and wealth taxes to pay for it. Labour would finance home insulation and encourage much more development of wind power. Instead of reducing corporation tax – a blunt instrument to encourage growth, Labour would use carrot and stick policies, for example a tax reduction for investors.

This seems to be the Labour formula – but it comes out in the usual drip-drip way which does not lead to the public evaluating what is on offer.

There is also such fear of the permanent loss of Red Wall voters that Labour will not sound out policies which could ameliorate the damaging Brexit straitjacket on the economy.

It is easy to blame the leadership totally for their insipid behaviour. But equally we need to learn from Germany just prior to the rise of Hitler. Many small parties had become interest groups, their voters entrenched in loyalty to parties which could make no impact whatsoever. Similarly voters in Scotland put loyalty first, and Labour no longer commands widespread loyalty here. The Labour leaders have to work within the limitations that exist.

So whatever happens next won't be entirely the fault of politicians.

Andrew Vass, Edinburgh

Rousing hymn

I agree with Alex Orr's remarks (Letters, 3 August) about the England team's use of Jerusalem as their national anthem. It's a wonderful hymn and I love to hear it. When I was a schoolboy at George Heriot’s many years ago our head of music, Dr Percy Smith, often chose it for our morning assembly of around 1,000 boys. Dr Smith belted the tune out on the school's wonderfully loud organ and the boys gave it laldy too.

I don't think it ever crossed our minds that the hymn was English, it was just such a rousing number. What a pity Scottish sporting teams have that awful dirge Flower of Scotland to put up with.

Douglas S Bruce, Penicuik, Midlothian

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