Readers' Letters: Scottish Government over-promises yet again

Is the SNP/Green Scottish Government really up to the task? Humza Yousaf has basically thrown the towel in over nurses’ pay and is asking Westminster for help. What will happen over teachers pay and that of civil servants?

In the meantime, amidst much fanfare from Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Child Payment scheme was launched. It was designed to help poorer families cope with the cost-of-living crisis and online applications were opened... but not for long. The system crashed shortly after “take off" and the SNP blamed this on “exceptional demand”. What on earth was the SNP expecting?

This simply emphasises that the SNP likes to talk up its credentials but it simply cannot deliver. Waiting in the wings are gender reforms and the bottle deposit return scheme. Both are fraught with perils and yet more banana skins lurking for the Scottish Government. Will it ever get better?

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Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Humza Yousaf has basically thrown in the towel in over nurses’ pay, reckons reader (Picture: Lesley Martin - Pool/Getty images)

Get a grip

As he again hands out the begging bowl to Westminster for yet more money in a bid to avert the impending crisis within the NHS, it's clear that Health Secretary Humza Yousaf doesn't have a clue about what to do to bring about change.

He blames Westminster for causing the crisis and therefore having a duty to bail out the devolved nations, but in some ways one of the UK government's main faults was in failing to ringfence previous extra funding for the NHS. Much of the Scottish Government's attention seems to have been focused upon independence, gender reform, underfunded care provisions and, of course, the rusting ferries at Ferguson Marine. In the meantime A&E waiting times have spiralled; doctors and nurses are leaving the NHS in droves; dentists are abandoning NHS patients and there seems to be no blueprint to redress these serious shortcomings and reform a perceived bureaucratic NHS administration. Will no one within the Scottish Government get a grip on a dire situation?

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Follow the logic

Stan Grodynski is no doubt correct in attributing some degree of the cause of UK inflation to Brexit, though he does acknowledge other global factors which have similarly affected many non EU countries such as the US (Letters, November 14). He highlights the potential risks involved in departing from an established economic union.

I do hope, therefore, that Mr Grodynski casts his eye over the report in the same edition by the expert economist, Glasgow Professor Ronnie McDonald, who estimates that Scotland leaving the union with the UK would cost every Scottish household 20 per cent of its income!

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Fat of the land

Scots have been responsible for many innovative health advances, from pioneers like Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin as an antibiotic and James Young Simpson who discovered chloroform as an anaesthetic, to Nobel prize winners John Boyd Orr and James Black, for breakthroughs in improving nutrition and combatting heart disease respectively.

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Now as a nation we are experiencing an overall reversal in our health for the first time in recorded history, with life expectancy reducing and excess deaths increasing while our NHS suffers its biggest-ever crisis. Some parts of Scotland have poorer health than developing nations, for example, male life expectancy in Glasgow is now less than in Algeria yet health spending per head here is over six times higher, suggesting something is structurally broken in our health and care sector.

Perhaps a clue as to why Scotland’s health has deteriorated can be found in the National Records of Scotland’s weekly mortality data, now less influenced by Covid and more by circulatory and other causes. Since the spring deaths from these have been over ten per cent higher than the five-year average.

As a nation we have become less active. Despite many more of us working from home, numbers walking, cycling or running for exercise is a fraction of what it was during lockdown and car use exceeds pre-pandemic levels most weekends.

A recent ONS report found that since 2019 the UK has lost about half a million people from the labour market, the biggest factor being ill health. At a time when throwing more spending at the NHS seems to make little difference, can we afford as a nation to remain overweight and inactive?

Alternatively, exercise should be prioritised as a preventative measure with more medical professionals prescribing exercise where appropriate. We need to move more to stay healthy.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Share the blame

It is a fundamental principle of law that those who incite a crime are as guilty of the crime as the actual perpetrator. If we apply this idea by analogy to the grievous policy errors which have led to the country’s present predicament, we would conclude that the opposition parties and the broadcast media are as much to blame as the government.

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So when Sir Keir Starmer, Nicola Sturgeon and endless BBC pundits respond to the Chancellor’s autumn statement with cries of Tory austerity, we should remember that they not only supported the policies which made this inevitable, they wanted even more of them.

The SNP in Scotland and Labour in Wales implemented the lockdowns longer and more thoroughly than the Tories. At no point did the opposition want less in the way of Covid measures or expenditure. As a result, we now have over £400 billion of extra national debt and a damaged economy.

With regard to net zero and climate change policy which is largely responsible for our current energy crisis, the opposition parties have always demanded more and a faster transition.

With regard to quantitative easing (QE) which has seen the national debt mushroom to over £2.5 trillion, at no point have the opposition parties demanded reductions in QE or in spending.

We should not allow the other parties or the BBC to pretend that our present predicament is purely the fault of the Tories, when at each stage they have been cheerleaders for the reckless policies which have led to it.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

Man with no plan

MSP Kevin Stewart, the Scottish Government's SNP social care minister, tells us to have faith in the new National Care Service bill being rushed through Holyrood because the design and planning will be done later (“No reason to pause National Care Service Bill, says Scottish minister”, 8 November).

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Isn’t this just what we expect from this SNP regime? Isn’t this their modus operandi, the basis of their plan for separation – “the design and planning will be done later”. At last an admission from an SNP “minister” that they are all talk, have no plan for anything – witness the ferry scandal.

When will independence supporters realise how this government operates and that rushing headlong into separation without detailed planning will result in economic and financial disaster.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire

Thin Green line

Last week saw the publication of the Scottish Green Party's economic plan for an independent Scotland. This very thin document's main proposal was the introduction of a universal basic income. All very well, but the Greens made no mention of how this would be achieved. No mention of what benefits might be affected, no mention of its probable effect on tax allowances and no mention of at what level it might be set.

With its astonishing lack of detail, the Green's proposal is an excellent addendum to the SNP's own lightweight economic strategy.

Jim Houston, Edinburgh

Clean break

My wife and I have just returned from a short stay in the very impressive Stratford-upon-Avon. In addition to the well-known historical sites and other visitor attractions, we were struck by two features of the town that Edinburgh should seriously consider reintroducing.

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Firstly, the streets of Stratford were remarkably clean and virtually litter free despite the large numbers of tourists. The reason for this was the presence of individual street cleaners, each with their own wheeled container for rubbish. They had responsibility for the cleanliness of their own assigned area and quite obviously took considerable pride in the work that they were doing. I well remember that this is how Edinburgh's streets used to be managed, with the cleaners not just picking up litter but also carrying out certain seasonal tasks such as weeding the kerbs and gutters. What a difference it would make to the appearance and cleanliness of our streets if such a service was reintroduced in Edinburgh.

The second lesson to be learned is that in the centre of Stratford there are no fewer than eight public toilets serving an area much smaller than our Old Town. It really is shameful that there are so few public toilets to be found in Edinburgh. I feel particularly for our visitors and our older citizens. As an Edinburgh Festival Voluntary Guide I am regularly asked by members of our walking groups where is the nearest public toilet? Many are obliged to ask local shopkeepers and cafe staff if perhaps they can use their facilities. I have even seen young children forced to relieve themselves on the High Street.

For a city that considers itself a world-class tourist destination, surely we can do better than this? Temporary toilets are provided for major sporting and cultural events so why not for visitors to our historic Old and New Towns?

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh

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