Readers' letters: Scotland needs an industrial strategy that works

With one snooty wave of the hand the Scottish government dismisses Freeport jobs from Scotland, with the other it furiously points at cuts to benefits.

Business minister Ivan McKee has rejected the UK government's Freeport plan.

An industrial strategy for making Universal Credit redundant rather than the workers might make a tad more sense.

This, however, is Scotland, where political vanity overtakes economic reality on every turn. The Scottish “Business” Minister, Ivan McKee, is simply too busy looking in the mirror to spot the competition arriving from England, powered by modern transport infrastructure and an enterprising outlook.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Gone are the days when the Scottish Cabinet toured Scotland, taking ministers to different cities. I’d like to suggest alternative away days over the border, so ministers can learn how far development in Scotland is drifting behind the pack. After all, Newcastle/Manchester/Birmingham are often more accessible than Inverness from Edinburgh.

Back in Scotland we have an economic engine stuck in neutral, making loud revving noises occasionally but ultimately growing and going nowhere. A bloated public sector masks the reality but that won’t survive the coming debt rewind. Feted quangos and an army of government salary sooks, all busy doing nothing, is no substitute for genuine enterprise.

Our airports suffer the same poverty of thought inflicted on our seaports. Incredibly, Wick still remains shut while official lackey holiday ‘hubs’ are maintained in the likes of Washington.

Similarly, keeping more costly and complex Covid travel conditions than England is just economic suicide. Despite 20mph signs appearing on the main route, travellers from Edinburgh will just divert to Manchester instead.

No doubt Patrick Harvie will celebrate the resulting Scottish airport jobs losses. Let’s hope there’s still folk in Scotland left to vote for his Green Party come the next election.

“Make it in England” isn’t a sustainable Scottish industrial strategy.

Calum Miller Prestonpans

Flight of fancy

At times it can make sense to take a different route from the one chosen by Westminster. We have a different education system for example.

Sometimes, however, you have to be more pragmatic. With the UK government easing Covid testing for returning international passengers but the Scottish government not following suit, it does not take a genius to see that Scots wanting to go abroad will travel to the likes of Newcastle or Manchester airport to avoid the costly PCR tests on their return.

There is nothing to stop them doing this and all that will be achieved is that Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports will lose out financially. The travellers will just come home via a different and cheaper route.

How long before airlines abandon Scottish airports altogether? Could this be another nail in the Scottish business coffin all thanks to SNP mismanagement?

Jane Lax, Aberlour

Power politics

In Karen Peattie's article "Scotland's transition to a net-zero....", 17 September, Ms Lindsay McQuade, chief executive of Scottish Power Renewables, is quoted as pointing out that "the equivalent of 97 per cent of Scotland's gross electricity consumption is now from renewable sources".

In addition, in the piece entitled "Grid connection charges hampering deliveries of Scottish renewables", Peter Wishart MP is quoted as saying "in 2019 over 97 per cent of electricity consumed in Scotland was from renewable energy sources."

If both participants have been quoted correctly and while their claims are slightly different, they are both wrong and misleading.

One would expect both to be familiar with the data published within the Renewables Electricity Energy Stats for Scotland, which can be found in the gov.scot website www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-energy-statistics-hub-index

This is Mr Wishart's own party's website and the Energy Consumption by Fuel section clearly identifies the grid stabilising role performed by both Torness and Hunterston (nuclear) and Peterhead (gas) in meeting Scottish power demand over the last year.

These official figures are wind 44.5 per cent, nuclear 30 per cent, fossil 12 per cent and hydro 11 per cent. Nowhere near their claims of 97 per cent being from renewables.

Left unsaid too is that Scottish power consumption was 16 per cent lower than the previous year, partly attributable to Covid, which should have helped the percentage of renewables to be comparatively greater than in previous years. But generation from renewables in Q1 2021 was 24 per cent lower than Q1 2020, which the Scottish government attributes to "milder weather".

Many will be interested in their presenting justification for their claims.

DB Watson CEng MIET, Cumbernauld

Ferries debacle

Brian Wilson’s excellent article (Scotsman, 18 September) highlighted the complete lack of an industrial strategy by the Scottish government.

A few months ago, I listened to Tom Hunter (I believe now ‘Sir’ Tom), the multi-millionaire business entrepreneur, putting forward many good, commonsense proposals for energising the Scottish economy and carrying it forward.

This is a man who knows what he is talking about and he would be an invaluable addition as a consultant.

Given the low quality of the various SNP politicians, Nicola Sturgeon and company should have been falling over themselves to bring him on board but, as far as I know, nothing was done.

There’s almost a Stalinist approach to government by the SNP at present - blinkered and introspective. The country urgently needs people of quality to try and dig them out of the present mess.

David Simpson, Glasgow

Health logistics

I received my appointment letter today for a flu jab on 3 October at Gorebridge.Living in Liberton, Edinburgh that means an 8 mile drive or three buses!I attempted to use the recommended website to change the date and venue with no success, so resorted to a phone call. After the advised 4 minute delay I was connected to a most helpful lady.

I explained my failed efforts to access online and learned there were web problems with the NHS Lothian site and no one had been successful in using it.I explained the geography of my abode and the nominated vaccine centre to learn that Lothian had issued appointments to those living outwith Edinburgh at Edinburgh Vaccine Centres and vice versa!There are two vaccines centres within one mile of my residence, Conan Doyle Medical Practice and the Bio Centre adjacent to the Royal Infirmary. Of course, neither had free appointments- they are all scheduled to non-Edinburgh residents!In 2020 a largely successful system operated for flu vaccination in Lothian, would it be too much to expect using the same system again?Finally, why can’t those eligible for the Covid booster not receive it at the same time as the flu vaccination?

Graham Smith, Edinburgh

Flu hoo-ha

I have just received a leaflet and letter from NHS Scotland making an appointment for me to have my flu vaccination at East Calder.

I live in Morningside, but it seems that the administrators of NHS see nothing unreasonable about expecting an 86-year-old to spend a couple of hours on various buses travelling to and from the next county to have a necessary injection.

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh

Energy security

With surging energy prices two words have been notable by their absence from public discourse - energy security.

The closure of two fertiliser plants in England on account of high gas prices has led to shortages of carbon dioxide and fears that food shortages may follow. The gas is used, among other things, to stun animals prior to slaughter and also for food preservation.

It has to be asked whether we would be so vulnerable to international gas prices if we were fracking our own gas in Britain. Many of Britain’s former coalfield areas are suitable for this.

Also, with one of the two electricity inter-connecters from France out of action until mid-October owing to a fire, we should be aware of how vulnerable our electricity supply is. Should be really be antagonising France by poaching submarine contracts, when the French government could simply switch off seven per cent of our electricity supply?

The joint policy of the Tories at Westminster and the SNP at Holyrood to decarbonise our economy is a recipe for coal homes, closed businesses and national economic collapse. It must be replaced by a policy of securing cheap plentiful and secure supplies of electricity and gas, despite the protests of the economically and technologically ignorant.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife.

Yousaf should quit

It is past time for the Scottish Health Minister to do the honourable thing and resign.

I accept the ambulance crisis is not his fault entirely as previous health ministers, including the current First Minister, have supervised the cutting of funds that has led to the desperate situation we are in at present. But it is equally true that in politics those in charge, if honourable, take the responsibility.

Were I in any doubt, I became certain of this being the right thing to do when I saw the video of the totally irresponsible Mr Yousaf disobeying all the rules for the use of invalid mobility and charging recklessly along the corridors of Holyrood.

This man should not be managing the health affairs of Scotland and it is time to go.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Write to The Scotsman

We welcome your thoughts. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid Letters to the Editor in your subject line.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.