Readers' Letters: Once again SNP/Greens are focusing on wrong things

The Scotsman leader yesterday (28 February) is one of the most damning I have ever read. The point regarding the cut to affordable housing is utterly reprehensible, and all at the hands of the worst government in Europe, with possibly the Welsh cabal a close second.
In a cost of living crisis should the Scottish Government be taking away discounts from hard-pressed workers? (Picture: Steven Robertson)In a cost of living crisis should the Scottish Government be taking away discounts from hard-pressed workers? (Picture: Steven Robertson)
In a cost of living crisis should the Scottish Government be taking away discounts from hard-pressed workers? (Picture: Steven Robertson)

And what are the SNP/Greens concerned with? Plans are afoot to strip out crisps and fizzy drinks from “meal deals”– the nanny state is now trying to cut obesity with draconian nonsense. Most of the time I see people with a meal deal they are young working men, builders, joiners, fencers etc. Not an ounce of fat on view.

In his letter yesterday, Stan Hogarth mentions the state of the NHS, “floundering after 15 years of their clammy hands pulling all the wrong levers here in Scotland”. The only lever needing pulled, with the utmost strength available, is that of “Room 101” – but only after the SNP/Green cabal have been admitted in their entirety!

David Millar, Lauder, Scottish Borders

Wrong battles

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As the SNP in the Commons joins Tory MPs in calling for a motion of no confidence in the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the nationalists also consider a campaign of “disengagement” with day-to-day Parliamentary activities. While it could be argued the SNP has been treated inappropriately, is the party choosing the right battles to fight? The SNP, faced by strongly resurgent Labour in Scotland, has tumbled in the opinion polls, with experts predicting significant seat losses at the general election. Yes, of course SNP Commons leader Stephen Flynn and Humza Yousaf will construct tortuous arguments around flawed parliamentary procedures and strict Commons procedural precedents not being followed meaning Scotland should be separated from the rest of the UK, but does this actually signify anything much to many of us?

Aren't most of us more concerned about the SNP's management of the NHS, schools, and roads and public transport? Isn't our focus, despite the efforts of front-line professionals, on the widening educational attainment gap, ever-growing NHS waiting times and the SNP's failure to launch ferries and dual the A9?

Far be it from me to provide practical tips on what the SNP should do to retain seats, but this strategy is looking like their most serious error since selecting Yousaf as First Minister.

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire

Painful visions

Finance Secretary Shona Robison's “tax and axe” Budget has hardly received a ringing endorsement from any part of the Scottish population. True to form, the Scottish Government has put the blame for the serious financial restrictions being introduced on the failure of Westminster to invest sufficiently in the nation's public services and infrastructure.

Admittedly, there will never be enough funding coming from south of the Border to satisfy our nation's needs. However, the current Scottish financial crisis seems to be largely home-grown, with the finger being pointed at our continuity First Minister. We are told that last August senior civil servants told Humza Yousaf that his policies, based on his “visions” for Scotland, were unaffordable and likely to lead to budget cuts. Then he froze council tax without consultation, causing chaos in local government finance. This erratic behaviour is hardly conducive to stable and effective financial management so I would suspect that handing the begging bowl out to Westminster would be met with “Get on your bike”. Or scooter, as the case may be.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Very well done!

Tuesday was the Scottish Parliament’s crucial vote on the SNP-presented Scottish Budget and a few questions arose during the debate in Holyrood. First, there was no alternative Budget presented by either of the opposition parties, only criticism. No acknowledgement from opposition parties of the groundbreaking Scottish Child Payment of £25 per week for eligible children under 16, tackling child poverty head on, assisting in excess of 327,000 households.

And no acknowledgement from opposition parties of the Scottish Government’s initiative in assisting the younger generation, with no tuition fees for further education and free bus travel for the under 22s.

No acknowledgement from opposition parties regarding our nurses being the best paid anywhere in the UK and no NHS strikes in Scotland.

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Regarding the opposition’s disapproval of the Scottish Government’s Budget, it may be worth reiterating that it included a council tax freeze, something that has not been unanimously accepted by councils, with Argyle and Bute (Lib Dem/Conservative coalition) imposing a 10 per cent increase. The Scottish Government is to be applauded for their record on addressing poverty and assisting the most vulnerable in society with more mitigating measurers in this year’s now-approved Budget.

Catriona C Clark, Banknock, Falkirk

Misplaced money

So the SNP is spending more of the money which should be spent on Scottish needs on foreign aid, this time to Malawi.

Two charities working there will receive a further £500,000 while we who pay taxes to this SNP government are getting less and less. While Malawi might need money, foreign aid is the role of the UK Government. So the next time the SNP say they don't have enough money from the UK to fund schools, roads, education, health etc, ask them how much they gave away on foreign aid.

Elizabeth Hands, Armadale, West Lothian

Money tree

Hands up! Who has been fertilising the Downing Street money tree? £31 million found rather rapidly, all to a private security company, to enhance security for MPs. I just can’t help wondering which MP’s son/daughter/spouse will turn out to have a hand on the tiller of the receiving company?

Just think how much comfort approximately £31,000 per head could bring as a down payment on the reparation for the 1,000 or so postmasters wondering if settlement will precede their demise, as so many have already died waiting for reparation due them following the PO Horizon software debacle.

Neil Robertson, Liberton, Edinburgh

Depict a riot

The picture painted by Bruce Peter of riots in Lanarkshire schools in the mid-Eighties (Letters, 28 February) is not one that I recognise.

I worked in a comprehensive high school in darkest, post-industrial Lanarkshire at that time and do not accept the professor’s dystopian image of disorder and indiscipline. The vast majority of pupils rose to the challenge of the brutal social and economic effects of the Thatcher regime by working hard and achieving success.

I do not know the reasons for the current increase of violent incidents in schools but if I did have responsibility for Scottish education I would, unlike the current Nationalist education secretary, read the relevant reports.

James Quinn, Lanark, South Lanarkshire

Outdated system

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John McLellan thinks that proportional representation (PR) gives extremists a platform (“Redneck Islamophobia is a gift to opponents of the Conservatives”, Perspective, 27 February). He exemplifies the EU elections and even the Scottish Parliament. One could argue – depending on one's definition of “extremism” – that even extremists have a right to express themselves and be represented. What matters is what influence they have.

PR attempts to provide all political parties with fair representation in a parliament. But they are not all the same. Israel uses the party list system which, unfortunately, results in too many parties fighting for power and, as at present, an unwieldy coalition. Eire and Northern Ireland use the acclaimed single transferable vote (STV) system (has that ever elected extremists?). The Scottish Parliament has a mixed first-past-the-post system and party list, a poor attempt at compromise. Would Green Party candidates even get elected in an STV election where they would stand as individuals?

The first-past-the-post system, intended for only two candidates, is outdated and unfair where there are more than two candidates.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Hot take

Clark Cross (Letters, 28 February) has his facts wrong. That climate change is happening now is consensus amongst climate scientists, and renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels for electricity generation according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Doubtless Mr Cross will dismiss them because their title includes the apparent expletive “renewable”.

As for countries “phasing up” fossil fuel use, not in western Europe where Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine has given countries a much-needed kick in the proverbial to shift to renewables. Even China and India have pledged to “phase down” coal use, and both are investing in renewables, just not fast enough to match their growing need for power, so fossil fuels fill the gap meantime.

Mr Cross’s opinion that the UK cannot achieve energy independence is hardly an excuse to not try. Scotland certainly can, with ease. Yes, our emissions are a tiny proportion of the whole. By the same “logic” he should not bother with elections because his vote is dwarfed by millions of others. By acting we set an example for others and, even without climate change, energy independence and limiting hostile foreign powers revenue and influence are worthy goals in themselves.

Finally, Mr Cross got something right. I am, indeed, “an exiled Scot” with a “hankering for independence and rejoining the EU”. Alba gu bràth!

(Dr) Stephen Moreton, Great Sankey, Cheshire

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