Readers' Letters: Kate Forbes should have accepted rural brief

Kate Forbes need not have taken the offer of the rural affairs brief as a snub or calculated demotion. Our environment is important, and Scotland outwith the Central Belt is important. Ms Forbes has often taken up issues of interest to farmers and crofters, or has at least been happy enough to have her picture taken with them. She also speaks Gaelic, which implies she has an interest in the Highlands and Islands.
Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes looked cordial enough on Tuesday but the former finance secretary turned down the new First Minister's offer to become rural affairs secretary (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes looked cordial enough on Tuesday but the former finance secretary turned down the new First Minister's offer to become rural affairs secretary (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes looked cordial enough on Tuesday but the former finance secretary turned down the new First Minister's offer to become rural affairs secretary (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A “Cabinet secretary for everything outdoors and north of Perth” type of role could have been the making of her, and could have been an inspired decision by Humza Yousaf, potentially taking one of his strongest MSPs and asking them to make a stronger connection between town and country. Presented properly, which this may or may not have been, it could have been a very attractive role indeed.

As it stands, Ms Forbes is just another MSP politician seemingly opting out – or is it that her ambition is stronger than her attachment to the Highlands?

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I feel a bit sorry for Humza Yousaf. This could have been a good move. We need a better integration of policy in rural Scotland, and someone who can really take that and make it work.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

It was a snub

It says much about Humza Yousaf that he wanted to demote Kate Forbes from her job as finance secretary. Ms Forbes mastered her brief in difficult circumstances when her predecessor resigned in disgrace. She is a woman of principles and as honest as the day is long. Clearly Mr Yousaf saw her as a threat, and the obvious lead challenger should his tenure at Bute House be as expected – nasty, brutish and short.

William Loneskie, Oxton, Lauder, Berwickshire

Missed trick

Humza Yousaf has missed a trick. Settling a score with Kate Forbes was understandable, after her criticism of him at the leadership hustings. Yet she was a very close runner up with 48 per cent of the vote to his 52 per cent. Offering her a humiliating demotion wasn’t the cleverest tactic. He should have offered her the poisoned chalice that is the post of health secretary. That would have left her to try to clear up the mess that is his legacy. It would have been revenge to savour. And now Yousaf has promoted a Sturgeon confidante and previous failed health secretary, Shona Robison, to Deputy First Minister. Yes, here in Scotland we really understand the meaning of “failing upwards”.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Talentless team?

First it was finance secretary Kate Forbes, now it's business secretary Ivan McKee who has resigned rather than serve in Humza Yousaf's Holyrood Unitary Government Of All The Talentless.

Not so much a case of rats leaving a sinking ship as leaving the never sailed ferry. Yousaf may now be the First Minister, but whatever role he takes, he'll always be the Worst Minister.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Matter of time

Humza Yousaf’s victory in the SNP leadership election brings to mind the old joke about how you know the mafia is at a cock fight – the duck wins. Yousaf was by a country mile the weakest of the three candidates. Has he a trade or a profession? No. Has he significant experience from any job outside politics? No. Perhaps, he did a difficult degree in university – medicine, engineering, law even? No, of course not. He read politics.

Humza Yousaf brings nothing in the way of useful experience, education or insight to the world of politics. It is no surprise that as a consequence he has been reliably a failure in every ministerial post he has held.

The only question is how long he will be allowed to fail as First Minister.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife


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So failed health minister, now First Minister, Humza Yousaf appoints Shona Robison, failed health minister and recently the main proponent of the discredited Gender Recognition Bill, to be his Deputy First Minister. Given the sticky wicket he already finds himself on, one could be forgiven for thinking he’s intent on committing political suicide.

D Mason, Penicuik, Midlothian

Deliver DRS

Reports suggest the UK Government may seek to block the introduction of Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers. Ludicrously, Whitehall believes the scheme should be delayed to protect cross-border trading. In Scotland drinks producers and even candidates for First Minister have erroneously suggested the scheme should be delayed to safeguard business interests.

Attempts to water down and delay Scotland’s DRS are wholly unacceptable. By including glass bottles in its proposed DRS, Scotland has thus far led the rest of the UK in building a scheme that works for people and planet. Capturing 90 per cent of the glass bottles in the scope of the scheme would enable Scotland to recycle 504 million glass containers each year.

In England and Northern Ireland, glass bottles are set to be excluded despite 75 per cent of Britons demanding their inclusion. And the DRS there is not expected to go live before October 2025 – more than two years after Scotland.

In Scotland the proposed delay is not to join forces with a greater, more ambitious UK-wide DRS, but actually a way for brands and retailers putting glass on the market to exempt themselves from their producer obligations.

A 2020 report from Changing Markets Foundation exposed the hypocrisy of some global corporations, who claim to be tackling the waste crisis while fighting legislation behind closed doors. And this is exactly what is happening now in Scotland with the glass industry.

Today we call on both Holyrood and Westminster to push ahead and deliver a DRS that will protect the environment for future generations and create a market free from needless distortion. That means introducing deposit systems with glass bottles included north and south of the Border.

James Dornan MSP, Scottish National Party; Maggie Chapman MSP, Green Party; Ariane Burgess MSP, Green Party; Ross Greer MSP, Green Party; Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, Green Party; (Dr) Sian Henley, University of Edinburgh; (Prof) Dora Scholarios, University of Strathclyde; (Prof) Maria Dornelas, University of St Andrews; (Prof) Elizabeth Kirk, Centre for Ecological Justice; Steve Hynd, Policy Manager, City to Sea

All at sea

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I think most of us living the ruinously undermined island experience would now gladly agree with Brian Wilson's suggestion that the Hull 802 Calmac ferry be dubbed “MV Nicola Sturgeon” (Perspective, 25 March).

Additionally, in prediction of continuity with the SNP island clearances policy, Hull 801 “MV Glen Sannox” (now that it has real windows and everything) should now be renamed “MV Humza Yousaf”.

The risk of this bold step is, of course, that these ships may well take after their inspirations and set off in the dark at full speed on an unswerving course for Rockall. How true that empty vessels make the most noise – we shall miss those unseaworthy little pretend apologies.

Peter Isaacson, Hynish, Isle of Tiree

Shame on media

If in the time to come someone asks “Who won the SNP leadership contest?" I think we could reply, in all fairness, that the Media did. I do not know Kate Forbes, nor am I a member of her Church, but what I saw, in interview after interview, was a young woman being subjected to relentless, hostile, questioning from journalists on her personal religious faith, often to the exclusion of all other issues.

In their treatment of Ms Forbes, especially on an issue that is already law in Scotland, and on which she clearly stated that she, as a “servant of democracy”, was pledged to uphold, I saw journalists, almost without exception, seek to get quotes that they could use for “shocking” banner headlines they could use to sell newspapers.

I believe they were attempting to manipulate the vote. An interviewee can only answer the questions they are asked. It was cynical, it was dishonourable and it was an abuse of power. It made for uncomfortable viewing, especially, for someone, like myself, old enough to have lived in a time when a whole people were persecuted for their religious faith, a road that led to the gas chambers. Shame on them all.

Patricia Dishon, Gullane, East Lothian

Woke hope

Although every social action is responded to by an equal and opposite social reaction that will all take time, so as an old man I hope I'm still around to enjoy the fun that will follow when the Wokes have bowdlerised the Bible only to then set about the Koran,

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Flawed scheme

The UK Government has repeatedly assured us all that electricity bills would fall as a result of much lower prices for offshore wind power agreed at Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions.

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However, a Freedom of Information request by Net Zero Watch revealed that the wind companies are under no legal obligation to take up their CfD options and the Government has no power to enforce them to do so or impose penalties on those who do not. The companies involved are selling electricity on the open market at much higher prices and the flaws in drawing up the CfD scheme have so far cost electricity users £5.7 billion more than it should have. Net Zero Watch is calling on the Government to impose a 100 per cent windfall tax on those companies.

The Government officials who drew up this flawed CfD scheme should be sacked.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

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