In the 14 years the SNP have been in power they have managed to upgrade only about 13 miles of the A9, a pitiful average of just under 1 mile per year.
They hope to award the contract to dual the six miles between Tomatin and Moy later this year, with an expectation that work will start in 2023 for a projected completion date in 2025.
That still leaves eight sections, none of which have been put out to tender, totalling almost 70 miles, to be upgraded. These sections are projected to take between two to four years to complete. There is no way that 70 miles of road will be worked on simultaneously given all the speed restrictions and other inconveniences that would entail. One would imagine that at most three sections could be worked on at the same time. This suggests there is no chance of these 70 miles being upgraded to dual carriageway status by the end of 2025.
Even if the political will exists, it would seem that 2030 (at earliest) might be a far more realistic date for completing the dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness.
Perhaps, Jenny Gilruth, the new Transport Minister, could give an update explaining how she envisages the dualling of the A9 progressing. At the current glacial rate of progress, the two delayed ferries currently under construction on the Clyde might both be sailing long before the A9 upgrade is completed.
George Shanks, Edinburgh
For the third year running the results of the qualification exams in Scotland will be affected by the pandemic. Despite this blow to a further year of children their future is being attacked in another way by the SNP/Green alliance, with its relentless pursuit of another independence referendum. When will the Scottish Government stop being so blinkered and actually consider the huge upheaval it is proposing for everyone? Independence not only does not offer a tangible solution to current problems, it brings a whole raft of new ones. The exam board are having to be “generous” in order to make sure no pupil loses out. The world will not be quite so generous to an independent Scotland.
Gerald Edwards, Glasgow
Gone to pot?
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes claim the UK would pay an independent Scotland's pensions. So why, in a leaked document in 2013, did John Swinney warn Scotland might not afford to them fully? What's changed, other than the lunatics taking over the Indy asylum?
It will be interesting to see what the new indy prospectus that the SNP/Greens are spending £700k on has to say about who pays Scotland's £9 billion annual pension bill. And what Rishi Sunak and rUK voters have to say about it.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeen
READ MORE: New six-mile A9 Birnam dual carriageway to open at weekend – but there’s still 70 miles to go
That old chestnut about a “pension pot” for state pensions has been regurgitated by some on the break-up-the-UK side of politics. Despite the ludicrous assumptions having been shot down endlessly, with their economic “case” for separation depending on the rest of the UK taking on the burden of paying pensions and benefits after separation having been shown to be delusion, still they persist.
The position could not be clearer. For more than 70 years state pensions and benefits in the UK have been paid from general taxation. What could be easier to understand? There is no pot. The pot is a figment of fevered nationalist imagination. Therefore, if you decide to split from the UK, which provides all this from our joint taxes at present, the separatists will have to provide from their own taxation to gather the necessary cash to pay pensions and benefits. End of story.
An “economic case” for separation is an oxymoron. It does not exist. It is dishonest and cruel to attempt to make your followers believe such utter nonsense.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh
Yesterday news that the Scottish Government has rejected the UK Government’s Levelling-up plan before it is formally announced is probably no surprise. However, it did remind me of being at a football match at Ibrox many years ago. A nearby supporter was listening to the Celtic game on a transistor radio (it was some years ago!) and blurted out “Penalty for Celtic!”
A voice behind immediately retorted “It was never a penalty!”
Maybe it would be better if the Scottish Government were to shelve their bigotry, study the full details and see the benefits for our country.
Ken Currie, Edinburgh
Vic Valentine of the charity Scottish Trans suggests that to save trans people from distress they should simply be allowed to record sex in the upcoming census “in a way that accurately describes who we are now, not who we were expected to be at birth” (“Trans people just want to be counted equally”, Perspective, 28 January). This confuses the reality of biological sex with “brain sex”, a term used to explain “gender identity theory” ie the idea that to simply feel like a woman is to be a woman or to feel like a man is to be a man. Being kind to a particular group may be laudable but this sentiment cannot extend to the denial of scientific fact, the erosion of basic rights for other groups or the distortion of important data collected via the sex question in the census which is used in the planning and provision of sex based services eg in the NHS and also by researchers.
The Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament (2 October 2018) to add a new voluntary question on gender identity and sexual orientation to the census. As introduced, the bill also sought to amend the 1920 Census Act so that “sex” would be redefined as “including gender identity” but in its Stage 1 report the Committee responsible for scrutinising the bill expressed concern over the conflation of two separate demographic characteristics.
On 28 February 2019 the then Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs assured MSPs during the Stage 1 debate in the chamber that “the intention behind the bill has never been to conflate sex and gender identity”. An amendment to remove the words “including gender identity” from the draft bill was brought forward by the Scottish Government at Stage 2. The bill was then passed by the Parliament on 12 June 2019. However, on 21 August 2021 the Scottish Government announced that it intended to issue guidance advising that the sex question may be answered based on a person's self-declared gender identity. This would redefine “sex” as in the original draft bill. The group Fair Play for Women was due to challenge this guidance in the Scottish Court of Session yesterday.
Cate MacDonald, Falkirk
Scrap green levies
Instead of tackling our soaring costs of energy with state backed loans – which simply get families deeper into debt – why don’t we follow the example of Germany, which is about to scrap green levies on energy bills. Its coalition government, which includes the Green Party, was to abolish the renewable energy surcharge on electricity bills next year but will now cut green levies earlier to ease the strain of rising household energy costs.
Direct subsidies for our lucky “renewable energy” investors are £10 billion a year with a further £2bn due from the high system costs renewables bring to the grid. Cutting green levies from energy bills will allow the Treasury to buy back subsidy entitlements at a discount and to finally cease the nonsense of providing green energy subsidies in any form.
(Dr) John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife
Called to account
Language is one of the most contentious matters in any country. Aidan Smith (Perspective, 1 February) rightly points to the rather odd words that the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland say they don’t like, though I haven’t noticed anything specifically about Scots words, just about normal expressions in everyday English which one would rightly expect people both to know and understand. They are not keen on such words as “niece” or “nephew”, preferring “nibling”, which sounds like what I do at lunchtime. They don’t like “boyfriend”, “girlfriend”, “husband” or “wife” either, preferring “partners” or “spouses”, which some partners in firms of chartered accountants might find a trifle too close to home.
Rather than being exclusively Scots words, those that they suggest using are not any language we might encounter while speaking to ordinary people, but the sort of speech you might expect from a get-together of HR specialists, trying to be desperately inclusive and woke. Things like “people with visual impairments, blind people, blind and partially sighted people” instead of “the blind”. I do not think that the Institute need be blamed entirely, as this is the current hip and “right-on” type of talk used in HR to speak euphemistically, rather than using clear English.
I should be very surprised if CAs pay any heed to this exercise in political correctness as they have far more important things to be getting on with which are focussed on numbers rather than words.
Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh
Re: Michael Grey’s letter on Scots words (2 February), I think he meant “wabbit” or “fair wabbit“ meaning exhausted or slightly unwell as per the Oxford dictionary.
The use of “fair wabbit“ is certainly not uncommon in our house, especially when someone is asked to do a small task.
E Findlay, Edinburgh
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