Readers Letters: It’s rich of SNP to moan about cost of living

I have both read and listened to the comments of SNP MP Alison Thewliss, giving the usual carping criticism of insufficient money being spent to support lifestyle during a period of rising inflation.

Alison Thewliss is Shadow SNP Treasury Spokesperson (Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)
Alison Thewliss is Shadow SNP Treasury Spokesperson (Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

She totally fails to take account of the fact that our current generation has led a relatively cosy life in an era of cheap energy, cheap food and ever-increasing funding of public services. We can’t go on in such a way, forever borrowing more and more money to cushion the blow inflicted by world events on our social structure.

It is time to bite the bullet and recall how things were 50+ years ago, when funding safeguards were nowhere near the current spending levels. We survived that and can survive again if we cut our cloth accordingly. Our current generation needs to grow up and get on with it instead of constantly moaning about what might have been.

In particular, it is rather disingenuous for any SNP MP to be critical of fiscal management given the track record of the enormous wastage of money on the likes of Prestwick Airport, CalMac, legal costs for the Salmond disaster and the ever-growing numbers of fat-cat “advisers” that Holyrood seems to need to compensate for the grievous lack of experience and competence of SNP ministers.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther

Belt tightening

Martin Lewis, the personal finance expert, claims he is virtually out of advice as we enter the financial year with the largest expected disposable income squeeze on record. So, it seems, is the Chancellor, who has done nothing for those on universal credit. Here are some ideas from a non-financial expert who is trying to economise:

Food: Buy as you need and plan around sell-by dates to avoid waste. Consider value ranges rather than brands and substitution to cheaper products. Use deals and vouchers to save money. Shop around.

Transport: Choose public transport, car sharing, walking or cycling if possible. If a car is required, e.g. for work, a small, second-hand petrol car may be cheaper overall than electric. Driving smoothly, keeping tyres correctly inflated and minimising weight reduces fuel. Shop around for fuel, travel less if possible.

Borrowing: Rising interest rates mean paying off credit cards, loans and mortgages should be prioritised. Contact the provider about spreading repayments.

Energy: Experts, like Mr Lewis, advise not to switch provider given the price cap provides protection, but consider switching to a fixed deal in the future. Turning the thermostat down goes so far, consider contacting the provider about spreading debt repayments. Check eligibility for grants for insulation, solar or heat pump installation to replace gas or oil.

Regular spending: Consider reducing pricey gym memberships and broadband, plus weekly alcohol, restaurant and takeaway spending. Reign these in together with branded clothes, footwear and foreign holiday spend. Spending on these together with regular replacement of expensive household appliances has soared as lifestyle changes include previously considered luxuries.

Advice: Contact a financial adviser, e.g. at a bank to provide expert help on budgeting as they, unlike me, are qualified to give advice.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

No comfort

Rishi Sunak’s latest austerity statement punishes the poor while protecting the richest in society. It is pure spin to blame it all on Covid – which the UK as an island should have been best placed to contain – or Ukraine for the UK’s decades of failed economic and political decisions to favour the City of London rather than investing in renewable energy manufacturing industries while giving oil and gas companies massive tax rebates.

The Scottish Government is spending £600 million per year mitigating the worst effects of Tory welfare policies, which is more than twice the cost of saving commercial shipbuilding on the Clyde.

The Office for Budget Responsibility says inflation at 6.2 per cent, which is higher than in Germany, plus higher taxes from next month, will produce the biggest fall in real disposable household income since records began in 1956.

The OBR also reported that leaving the EU has resulted in UK overseas trade falling 15 per cent lower than had we remained in the EU. Trade as a share of the UK's GDP has fallen 12 per cent since 2019, two and a half times worse than any other G7 country, and missed out on the recovery in global trade.

By 2026, Tory Britain could be matching “high tax” Norway but without the high wages and world-beating public services. By voting No in 2014 we have missed out on the benefits of being in the EU and, with an oil price at $115, living in a wealthy energy rich country with no need for such austerity measures.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

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My choice

Re: Stuart Weir’s recent article “When a ‘right to die’ becomes a duty to die” (Friends of the Scotsman, 25 March). Mr Weir, I am a woman of 52 with terminal cancer. I am a supporter of Dignity in Dying. When my time comes I don't want to be dying in agony. I don't want my family to watch that. I watched my Mum and Dad die horrific deaths. I'm not married so can't go with the vows “In sickness and in health”. Also, hospice care isn't available for everyone, beds are very limited. As lovely as they are, I want to die at home. I want to be in my home. Obviously you are a Christian. I am not. I don't believe in God. I have no religious beliefs. I am of sound mind. And hey, “my body, my choice”.

Tracy McNally, Mossblown, South Ayrshire

All at sea

The Auditor-General, Stephen Boyle, has uncovered a saga of mismanagement, lack of due diligence and a cavalier attitude to public finances on the part of the Scottish Government that ought to outrage Scots. The interminable ferries saga is now turning from tragedy into farce. The Finance Minister, Kate Forbes, does not know who took the momentous decisions about it because she “wasn’t in post at the time”. The only plausible reason for that is that so much of the audit trail cannot be found – yet another case of inadequate record keeping by the SNP regime.The clear impression is that when it comes to conceiving, ordering, commissioning and executing major projects, the SNP government is all at sea. Unlike the ferries.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Record failings

Audit Scotland’s report into our government’s ferry fiasco notes that there was no record kept of why the decision was made to overrule procurement experts and award the contract to Ferguson, with none of the usual financial safeguards in place.

Recently we learned that much of the £5 billion provided by Westminster for Covid-affected business support was allocated without records being kept. This suggests either gross incompetence on behalf of the Scottish Government or that there is something to hide in they way they do business. While I would imagine that the former is more likely, I have to think that there is a combination of both at play here. For an independence-focused government that can detail every party that Boris Johnson is alleged to have held, they seem to have totally lost track of the things closer to home that matter. Even the simplest of businesses keep notes on important decisions and spending. We really do deserve better.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Damning reports

Having a bad memory for names, I had to google Stephen Boyle, the Auditor General for Scotland. What greeted me was a list of one report after another, damning this Scottish Government.

From the latest on the ferry debacle that should be an absolute embarrassment to every single SNP politician involved to the report a month ago on the Scottish NHS not being financially sustainable, to the black hole when it comes to where the £5 billion of Covid funding went, to the superfast broadband rollout that is anything but fast and to the woeful drug and alcohol services. All of these have been published in the last month.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, we also now know that the Scottish Government tried to get the Auditor General to change his report into education standards before the Scottish Election last year.

Time after time, the Scottish Government are found wanting and yet this has not led to a single resignation. Nicola Sturgeon will no doubt have a reshuffle soon in which the SNP MSPs will all get on the ministerial merry-go-round and wait to see what portfolio they will have passed to them.

When will the SNP voters wake up and realise that this government is not helping those in poverty, those in need of healthcare and pupils in our schools as they are out of their depth and waste money on projects due to their incompetence?

Jane Lax, Aberlour, Banff

Nuclear riddle

Having no coal, the French chose nuclear power during the Arab oil price hike of 1973 and have so far built 58 domestic nuclear power stations. We gratefully draw power from one of them when our windmills are lacking, which is most of the time. In the UK – as oil prices surge again – those of the Green persuasion warn against nuclear on the grounds of safety and waste. So how have the French been coping so successfully for the past half century, one must ask?

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Kinross

Air error?

While it is undeniably commendable that a Virgin aircraft flew the 52 Dnipro orphans to London Heathrow, would it really have put them out to fly them to Edinburgh Airport, given they are moving on to Callander?

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing Fife

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