However, Nicola Sturgeon added a newer excuse to her standard list, now blaming “the changing demographic of the country”. And lest we mere mortals are in any doubt, everything in Scotland is rosy because the Scottish NHS seems to be performing ahead of the equivalent in England in Wales.
How this must provide such comfort to potential patients from all over Scotland waiting in A&E departments hour after hour to be seen. The First Minister and her array of incompetent health ministers have been in power for over 15 years. Her consistently lame and repetitive excuses will not wash anymore. The public know exactly where the blame lies for our failing NHS and if she was honest, so does the First Minister.
Richard Allison, Edinburgh
Contrary to Jill Stephenson’s interpretation, John McLaren’s article merely highlights that the limited devolution fiscal arrangements are no longer fit for purpose (Letters, 23 September).
There is no evidence that lowering income tax would increase the tax take in Scotland or boost the economy, whereas if a Scottish Government raises income tax, our Block Grant decreases so it is a no-win situation. As the main fiscal power under devolution, income tax is not much use without also having all the other taxation powers.
Without the full taxation and borrowing powers of a normal country no Scottish Government can resolve the problems of poverty when the UK’s tax policies overwhelmingly favour the richest in society or fully tackle an under-pressure NHS which is in a poor state throughout the UK due to decades of underfunding by Westminster governments, and this affects Scotland’s allocation through the Barnett formula, which is decreasing due to increased NHS privatisation in England.
Staff recruitment problems are exacerbated by remaining outside the EU, which no UK party wants to change for fear of losing Middle England votes, and Scotland needs far more young people to come here to work in order to pay for our ageing population.
The gap between the rich and poor is widening in the UK and the standard of living for the average household is much lower than in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia and Ireland. Without independence, energy-rich Scotland, which exports six times the amount of gas we use, cannot prosper like our near neighbours in Scandinavia and Ireland.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh
Few would argue with Mary Thomas that one in four Scottish children live in poverty (Letters, 21 September). Or indeed, with yesterday’s announcement that we now have the UK’s lowest life expectancy. But which political party has held sway here for the last 15 years?A pity that the quarter of a billion spent so far on unfinished ferries couldn’t have been better used, along with the millions squandered on the aborted Named Person Scheme, the latest referendum or on Sanjeev Gupta and his struggling Lochaber smelter.People can’t be lifted out of poverty through handouts alone, however.The Scottish Government loves chucking cash at welfare, Gaelic signage and pretendy embassies, but is not so good at actually growing the economy to create prosperity, raise living standards or generate revenue necessary for such expenditure.
Through having the UK’s most draconian income tax regime and what the CBI describes as “frankly the highest business rates of all our major economies”, the SNP demonstrates its distaste for wealth creation and private enterprise. Continuing Indyref2 threats and all the associated uncertainty does nothing for business confidence either.
Ms Thomas repeats those unconvincing separatist arguments about how independent, socialist Scotland would become an earthly paradise like Ireland or Norway.
She may be unaware that the Irish Republic’s cost of living is 15 per cent more than ours, that most patients have to pay for healthcare or that so-called “Leprechaun economics” (multinationals registering in Dublin for tax avoidance purposes) artificially inflates the country’s apparent wealth. Unfortunately, Nicola Sturgeon’s Sinn Féin friends are currently doing rather well in the polls for the same reason that the extreme right-wing Fratelli d’Italia appear set to take power in Rome next week; popular disillusionment with corrupt, ineffective mainstream parties who meekly do as Brussels tells them.Norway, on the other hand, is a stable constitutional monarchy and staunch Nato member. Its politics cannot be described as socialist, but rather “cuddly capitalism”. To anyone who has experienced a snarling Scottish nationalist mob, ”cuddly” certainly doesn’t describe them.
Far from imitating Norway’s sovereign wealth oil fund invested for the common good, Green Indy Scotland would just have to obey Greta Thunberg and close down its North Sea fields.
Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh
We were frustrated to hear that Scotland's Education Secretary has said there are “no plans” to end religious appointees on council education committees.
This follows a recent stooshie in the Shetland Islands where councillors described the situation as both “unconstitutional and undemocratic” and 2"ridiculous in the 21st century".
In response to a letter from Edinburgh Secular Society and The National Secular Society, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP explained that the continued existence of faith schools and the "requirement to provide Religious Education" means there "continues to be a role for religious groups in denominational and non-denominational schools alike".
What a bizarre case of the cart pulling the horse ! We teach PE in schools but we don’t have unelected footballers voting on education committees.
If Christian churches want more of their god in schools they should stand for council elections on that ticket and we would support their right to do so.
Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society
Laura Waddell seems in awe of Finland ("UK may envy Finnish heat pump revolution as winter bites”, Perspective, 22 September). So in awe that she did not say anything about the costs of heat pumps or reveal that the Green/SNP-dominated Scottish Government will ban gas boilers in all new homes, offices and newbuilds by April 2024. From 2030 existing homes will not be able to replace their existing gas boiler with a new one but will be forced to install far more expensive heat pumps, solar energy or electricity.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, ground source pumps cost £24-49,000. Air source pumps will cost £7-13,000 but larger radiators may be required, adding to the expense. Few people could afford this cost. I recently replaced my gas boiler for £2,970. Modern gas boilers can last anywhere from 10-15 years but many are still efficient after 20 years.
I trust Laura Waddell will advise people to buy a replacement gas boiler before 2030 and point out to the Scottish Government that the European Union Parliament recently declared that natural gas and nuclear can be labelled as green alongside wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, so will the Scottish Government now rescind this stupid gas boiler diktat?
Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian
The General Secretary of the GMB, Gary Smith, has said that “the big winners from renewables have been the wealthy and big corporate interests". He has urged the Labour Party to abandon “bourgeois environmentalism”, get real about energy supply and back fracking. I completely agree. The Labour Party and the SNP have been captured by people who have no experience of industry, engineering, or infrastructure projects, but like Luddites have turned their backs on economic development and its creation of greater wealth and higher living standards for ordinary people which reliable energy sources have provided for decades.
Now that the Government has realised that energy policy over the past 20 years has been disastrous and is trying to increase oil and gas output we can expect these bourgeois environmentalists to become more desperate in their demands to shut down oil and gas production. Stand by for more raving, ranting, disinformation, gluing, mobbing, smashing, tyre-deflating criminality in the months ahead.
William Loneskie, Oxton, Lauder, Berwickshire
We are subjected to the SNP’s energy secretary, Michael Matheson, putting on a tough and supposedly principled stance and insisting there will be no fracking licences issued in Scotland. But, in the meantime, there will be no ban on Grangemouth processing imported fracked oil and gas, nor in the banning of any fracked or nuclear power generated electricity.
In other words it will make not a bit of difference other than the SNP can do what they do best – hypocrisy and posture politics. If they were serious and principled, all fracking and nuclear end products would be banned. They would disengage Scotland from any power grid that is involved and instead rely entirely on unreliable and intermittent wind. Otherwise their “stance” is sheer hypocrisy and merely a meaningless posture.
Alexander McKay Edinburgh
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