Readers' Letters: Scotland is outperforming UK in many areas
On Ukrainian refugees, Sally Gordon-Walker and Colin Hamilton (Letters, 13 July) fail to mention that more than 20 per cent of the total number of UK visa applications have named a Scottish sponsor or that Wales has also paused its own visa scheme due to the number of applications. Also, per head of population, Ireland has taken in more Ukrainians than the UK.
This latest attack on the Scottish Government is typical of Unionist misinformation with scant regard for the facts. On BBC Politics Live, SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitfield had to correct the BBC presenter and a Tory MP by pointing out that Scotland had outperformed England and Wales on A & E and cancer treatment waiting times for the past seven years. All of England's ambulance services are now at REAP level 4 – equivalent to 'black alert'.
Crime is down and less than elsewhere in the UK, and even before the latest pay dispute, the starting salary for a police constable was £5,300 higher than in England.
Thanks to the SNP’s progressive policies, Scotland now has lower child poverty than any part of England or Wales. In Scotland the figure is down to one in five compared to one in three in Labour run Wales.
Based on the data and evidence, Scotland out performs the other UK nations on health, education, policing, the environment and transport as well as on reducing poverty. That’s why people consistently vote SNP.
Feeling the heat
Yet another record number of people waiting in excess of four hours in A&E to be treated. This is hardly a statistic that the Scottish Government should be proud of. Behind each number is a person in pain or feeling desperately ill and in need of urgent help. No doubt insufficient GP appointments are a factor, but staff sickness and high numbers of specialist staff leaving the profession because of overwork and unsatisfactory pay and conditions must also be contributing to the chaos.
While his boss is on “independence” manoeuvres, it seems that Health Secretary Humza Yousaf is running out of ideas to improve the situation. It's fortunate that Scotland is not experiencing the dire hot temperatures being seen south of the Border, otherwise the system would completely break down.
Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Kippen, Stirlingshire
The problem with the views expressed by Grant Frazer and Mary Thomas (Letters, 12 and 13 July) is that neither include any response to the statement that “independence is irrelevant if we do not save the planet”. Neither correspondent explains how a flat owner can raise £40,000 to replace a gas boiler when faced with the decade of austerity outlined in the SNP Growth Report, or householders can underwrite the £150 billion debt for a Green Revolution.
Alex Kemp states that “the fuel poverty problem will be with Scotland for some time and requires very early attention” (Perspective, 13 July) yet Scottish politics is stuck in a groove over Indyref2 instead of developing a policy to achieve a Green Transformation by 2045. Time, therefore, for all supporters of Greta Thunberg to unfurl the banners once more and march on Holyrood to demand that the SNP/Green Alliance focus on IndyRef2 is put into abeyance until 2045 when the promise of achieving COP26 targets has been met,
Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway
SNP’s iron fist
Whatever may be said against the Conservative Party, no one can deny that their leadership contest is democracy in action. While the SNP requires all its politicians be bound to adhere to the leadership line, the Tories have shown that they are prepared to oppose their leaders, and even depose them. On the other hand, the lack of critical thought and democratic accountability within the SNP is quite appalling. The SNP leadership has mandated that “no MP shall publicly criticise a group decision, policy or another member”. Along with this you have lack of transparency, obstruction of Freedom of Information requests, and even taking on powers to lock down the country again without a vote in Holyrood. We are supposed to be living in a liberal democracy. When Alex Salmond stood down after the independence referendum, there was no leadership contest, so when Nicola Sturgeon resigns can we expect Kate Forbes to be anointed as her successor without a vote either ?
William Loneskie, Oxton, Lauder, Berwickshire
Now that the press and media have stopped hounding Boris Johnson from pillar to post, with some justification, perhaps they could now devote the same amount of pressure to Nicola “I can’t recall that, judge me on education and lessons must be learned” Sturgeon and her government’s abysmal record since the SNP have been in power.The press and media do seem to give the First Minister and the SNP an easy time of it here in Scotland. After all, we the public are still waiting on the report from Police Scotland on the allegedly missing £600,000 from the SNP funds after almost a year since the investigation started. If this had been the Tory Party Ian Blackford and his cohorts would have been screaming from the rooftops and it would have been been all over the media.
Bill Hope, Longniddry, East Lothian
An SNP MP claims that if and when the decision on the legality of a referendum on breaking up the UK goes to the Supreme Court, then “we cannot be sure of it being an unbiased judgement”. Those chosen to sit on the court come from every corner of the UK and are eminently qualified and experienced to do so.
To suggest bias beggars belief and says more about the warped mindset of so many Scottish nationalists than it does on any evidence-based reasoning. Treatment for paranoia is readily available.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh
Nationalist politicians have eagerly snapped up the declarations by Conservative leadership contenders that there will be no referendum for another ten years as the perfect excuse for not having achieved one. It's a great distraction from the real reasons, which are that after 15 years of SNP rule they have failed to show they can run the place well, haven't come up with a credible plan for an independent Scotland and there is therefore no demonstrable overwhelming demand for it.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
How can the BBC justify Gary Lineker’s pay rise of about 15 per cent to £1.35 million at a time of pay restraint, claiming to desperately need more money and having charged pensioners’ licence fees as they have a budget shortfall? To rub salt in the wound, the “pensioner increase in budget” appears to be promoting the iPlayer, which looks to be aimed at younger viewers.
James Watson, Dunbar, East Lothian
Nicola Sturgeon invented a ministerial position, that of the “circular economy”, to give the Greens’ Laura Slater a post. Now it appears she has created a new one, that of the circular independence referendum, in order to put herself out of a job. Ms Sturgeon is going nowhere fast – or even slow – and her stewardship of Scotland reflects this. The exit sign beckons.
Gerald Edwards, Glasgow
Sir Keir Starmer has said he will not make spending promises without saying also how he will fund them and gives as an example providing extra money to enable children to “catch up at school” by withdrawing charitable status from private schools (your report, 11 July). At first sight this looks admirably clear but closer consideration suggests it is not so simple.
No doubt the Treasury can say fairly accurately how much charitable status has cost the public funds in a recent period but withdrawing it could well have consequences which are impossible to estimate with any accuracy. For instance, school fees may well rise to an extent which causes an indeterminate number of parents to give up on private education with a consequent increase in the costs of the state system. There could, also, be less direct but meaningful consequences. For instance, some parents may decide that instead of paying fees they will move into the catchment area for a state school with a good reputation. There are already reports of this happening and of it leading to an increase in house prices so that over time the less affluent it is desired to help are excluded.
The other example Sir Keir gives is funding more mental health care by closing tax loopholes. The Revenue has been trying to do so for decades so good luck with that. Sometimes in pursuing other goals, such as getting more films made in the UK, government action has created scope for fresh avoidance schemes. The main problem is the amazing ingenuity shown by practitioners in this field in bending the letter of the law to their own advantage. The only answer is to give HMRC the power to decide what is taxable – cue a tremendous furore about the rule of law and arbitrary government.
The fact is, our society is complex and government is hard. A politician seeking to be absolutely straight with voters would only be able to say “I propose doing this with a view to achieving such and such” but while many would appreciate this, many others would continue to demand a certainty which cannot exist.
S Beck, Edinburgh
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