Readers' Letters: Scotland cannot afford Sturgeon and her pals

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Scottish Greens co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, brought into the Government to support the SNP. (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Pool/GettyFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Scottish Greens co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, brought into the Government to support the SNP. (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Pool/Getty
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Scottish Greens co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, brought into the Government to support the SNP. (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Pool/Getty
The Scottish Parliament was to cost no more than £64 million and its initial number of 129 MSPs would be cut to 114 once the dust had settled.

The 900 per cent overspend, for which no-one was ever really held responsible, and the decision to maintain these extra 15 snouts in the trough signalled who the parliament would serve – and that it wasn't the people of Scotland. We have lost various First Ministers for petty misdemeanours, but remain stuck with one whose serial failures have cost vast amounts of taxpayers' money and seen power centralised so it is in the grasp of one who could not be less equipped to wield it. That desperation to cling on, despite one scandal after another, has resulted in a reliance upon a party of eccentrics hardly anyone voted for to prop up Sturgeon in a failed parliament she does not control a majority in.

If an administration attacks business, does not address law and order, cannot deliver reliable access to primary healthcare, does not educate our children to an acceptable standard, cannot even tell the difference between men and women and refuses to be accountable for any of its many costly failures, it is not serving its constituents, only those who are paid considerably more to attend it than they could possibly hope to earn in any other walk of life. Scotland cannot afford Nicola Sturgeon, her Green pals or her cosy clique that offer only failure.

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The Scottish Parliament exists to serve the Scottish people, it does not rule over us. It is time it grew up, recognised its responsibilities, removed those who have failed us so badly and work together to get the country back on its feet. If it is unwilling or unable to do so, it must close. We cannot afford it to continue as it is.

Hamish Hossick, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Trams travesty

Now that the tram tracks have finally reached Newhaven, some members of Edinburgh Council are floating the idea that there should be further construction for a track to the Royal Infirmary, or a loop round to the airport, or even to Dalkeith. The thinking seems to be that they have squandered so many millions of public funds and disrupted so many businesses for years, that they really must do it all again in order to distract from the folly of doing it in the first place! The basic argument against trams is that they are stuck in their tracks. The route they travel is set and cannot be altered without massive expense and disruption. By contrast, buses are adaptable and their routes can be altered easily. The many millions that were squandered on the trams would have bought a whole fleet of modern green buses which would have served all of Edinburgh.

The trams need to be stopped in their tracks now. Enough is enough. Edinburgh Council should rule out any further waste of public funds on that obsolete technology. Our streets and roads are in an appalling state with ruts and potholes which damage vehicles and force cyclists to swerve into the traffic. Our councillors need to focus their efforts on repairing our city and ensuring that all of it meets the transport needs of all our citizens.

Les Reid, Edinburgh

Facts on Maid

As a Canadian palliative care physician and researcher, I was surprised to read the claims made by Murdo Fraser regarding Medical Assistance in Dying (Maid) in Canada (Perspective, 8 February). I appreciate that some people are opposed to assisted dying for moral or religious reasons, but these objections do not entitle anyone to make factually incorrect claims. Some of the specific claims in this column – that Maid is being driven by vulnerability, poverty or poor service access; that it would be available on the same day as the initial request for young women with anorexia; and that it is routinely offered to people who are ineligible – are simply untrue and unsustainable in the face of the evidence.

I co-led a large study showing that people from vulnerable demographics (eg low-income, institutionalised, widowed) are far less likely than the average Canadian to receive Maid. Another recent study found that poorest Canadians are actually 39 per cent less likely to receive Maid than the wealthiest Canadians, even when you correct for sociodemographic and health-related factors. We know that poverty and marginalisation cause mortality through higher rates of chronic illness, suicide, addiction, lower quality healthcare, etc. But poverty and marginalisation clearly do not drive Maid to any substantial degree – quite the opposite.

I was shocked to read the claim that anyone presenting with anorexia might refuse treatment and then receive Maid on the same day without being offered other supports. Such supports would be offered, and response to treatment would be a vital part of determining whether the condition is incurable (one of the eligibility criteria for Maid). But this claim is also problematic because it trivialises the serious decisions that people have to face when they develop incurable conditions, and the serious conversations they have with their physicians. Anorexia nervosa is usually treatable, but in rare cases it does not improve and people do deteriorate and die. I have treated two such patients in the ICU; both died despite receiving the best care that anyone could offer. The conversations with the patients and their families were extensive and heartbreaking. By the same token, there is nothing easy or quick about Maid decisions. To imply otherwise is disrespectful to patients, families and physicians alike. I appreciate that Mr Fraser may never be reconciled to the practice of Maid, but I hope that he would avoid making sensational and hurtful claims in future.

James Downar, Division of Palliative Care, University of Ottawa

Sounds wrong

Further to Andrew Gray’s letter (14 February) regarding the pronunciation of Scottish place names, as a Proud Falkirk Bairn I am annoyed that the recorded messages on ScotRail trains travelling to Dunblane advise us that one of the stops is “Came-lun”. Travelling on Monday this week, I was delighted that the train manager used the correct pronunciation, “Cammylon” and congratulated her when she checked my ticket. She replied that she was similarly annoyed that Camelon was being so debased. My other pet gripe is the mispronunciation of Calton. It is “Call-tun” not “Caaltun” or even “Carlton”.

J Lindsay Walls, Edinburgh

Blade timebomb

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An excellent letter from Archibald A Lawrie pointing out that his local authority has good recycling facilities for glass and plastic (14 February). All 32 councils in Scotland have excellent glass bottle banks and also recyclable bins which include plastic bottles and they work well. If this stupid Deposit Return Scheme is introduced what will happen to the employees who do this work? Will they be declared surplus to requirements and sacked or will they be recycled into non-jobs at council taxpayers’ expense? Yet another SNP mega-expensive disaster in the pipeline but there is yet another coming to a landfill site near you. Unrecyclable wind turbine blades.

Germany has 30,000 tonnes per annum of wind turbine blades which end up in landfill since they cannot be recycled. Scotland has approximately 50,000 wind turbine blades still rotating – but not for long, so will the Scottish Government now plan ahead and set up a Wind Turbine Blade Return Scheme? The return containers will have to be large since wind turbine blades are up to 350 feet long.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Lapping it up?

After three weeks of extraordinary discussion about so-called transgender people I am as confused as some MSPs. I used to strongly support Nicola Sturgeon until she became a puritan and, in a moment of Cromwellian fervour, agreed it was a good idea to shut down lap dancing bars and strip clubs. How stupid of a political leader to advance a measure that takes away jobs from workers, stops entertainment and thus takes income from the night time bar trade, reduces taxes and rates from local government!Has the government not got more important things to sort out? The dualling of the A9, tidying up Edinburgh, our tired-looking capital city. Finding money to pay teachers and firefighters and, of course, nurses. Getting industry to move to Scotland the world, creating wealth for a country that needs it. Come on Nicola, “gies a brek”.

Michael Twaddle, Glenrothes, Fife

Low spirits

I believe Glenmorangie, Glen Fiddich and other whisky makers sponsor the Tain Highland Gathering, and their names appear on T-shirts worn by competitors. There is also gin and whisky on sale from the SNP themselves, bearing the word YES, to advertise independence, presumably. Would these be affected by any ban on the promotion of alcohol? Loss of the Highland Games would certainly be a blow to the Highland economy.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Perth & Kinross

Digging Douglas?

I notice that Scottish Labour has parachuted Douglas Alexander into being its candidate for East Lothian, hoping a split SNP/Alba nationalist vote will allow him to warm a Westminster bench for £85,000+ again.Alexander was my MP in Paisley South/Paisley and Renfrewshire South for 18 years, during which time we barely saw him in the constituency except when he required reelecting, which he saw arrogantly as his natural right; Renfrewshire being an area where people voted Labour from blind brand loyalty for donkeys, and got hee-haw in return.If the electors of East Lothian choose to elect Peter Mandelson's pretty poppet on brand label rather than track record, I'm confident he'll prove as much use to them as he was to Renfrewshire.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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