Readers' Letters: Verdict is in on Sturgeon's education ambitions

SNP MSP and Education Minister Jenny Gilruth (Picture: Ken Jack/Getty Images)SNP MSP and Education Minister Jenny Gilruth (Picture: Ken Jack/Getty Images)
SNP MSP and Education Minister Jenny Gilruth (Picture: Ken Jack/Getty Images)
The SNP has launched a “national discussion on education” following an official report which states governance, qualifications and inspection regimes are “not fit for purpose”. Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth stated: “There is an overwhelming appetite for change in Scottish education.”

At last an admission by a senior member of this regime that Nicola Sturgeon’s “judge me on education” boast was an abject failure. Education excellence was one of many of Ms Sturgeon’s great proclamations and now she has gone,

Ms Gilruth, along with Fergus Ewing, is having the confidence to speak out against some serious shortcomings since 2014. Let’s hope more SNP politicians have the courage of their convictions in an attempt to fix broken Scotland. What a dreadful legacy the former First Minister has left.

Douglas Cowe, Kingseat, Aberdeenshire

Nice work…

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I recently responded to an advertisement by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), who are looking for a Senior Business Consultant (Performance Reporting and Planning).

Having 20-plus years of international business consultancy experience, I enquired about the role. In all my past experience, business consultants are hired on a contract basis for a defined job and for a defined period. The consultant can deliver advice and critique to management, objectively and without fear or favour.

Imagine my surprise to be informed by Sepa that this was a full-time salaried position within the organisation, reporting to a senior manager in the organisation that required change to its business-model and processes.

This flies in the face of my profound experience of international best practice as experienced when working on capacity-building and change projects for the World Bank, European Investment Bank, EBRD and several EU Development agencies in various countries of the world.

The obvious question, therefore, is why an agency of the Scottish Government requires a salaried full-time “Advisor” to the management ?

The conclusion must be that the management is not up to the requirements of their roles, if they need a permanent hand-holder. Is this not the reason Holyrood seems to be full of advisors in addition to Civil Service employees?

The Civil Service is supposed to, by itself, provide permanent advisory services to governing departments. So why is there this constant, never-ending need to go outside to look for expertise and experience that appears to be sadly lacking and instead of specifying a contractual role defined by focused output-effort on a particular problem within the organisation, we see the hiring of a permanently employed individual at the expense of the public purse.

When is Holyrood going to get a grip on such matters ?

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

British decline

Reading Brian Wilson’s latest opinion piece in last Saturday’s Perspective it is apparent that he has dedicated the rest of his life to trying to prove that the SNP government is as incompetent as the one in which he served at Westminster. He is on a loser there, considering his colleagues failed to repeal Mrs Thatcher’s crazy legislation that left us without bank examiners and led to the near collapse of the economy, private pensions were robbed and there were wars in which hundreds of thousands died to no purpose except to show his boss as a “great statesman striding the world stage”, so far as I can see.

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In his articles Brian sticks to the nuts and bolts of the Scottish Government’s failures, particularly the ferries, and keeps away from the elephant in the room, which is the decline for the last 70 years of the British economy to which he wants us to remain shackled. The evidence is clear – that the NHS waiting lists, patients queued up in ambulances and in hospital corridors every winter, potholes, cancelled infrastructure projects, penniless local councils don’t just happen in Scotland, the problem is far deeper.

Brian will never criticise his unionist allies, the Tories, whose last vanity project, the Elizabeth Underground line, came in £4,000 million over budget and four years late. To keep up their self-delusion they have embarked on their next project, HS2, and like the rest, it is “the biggest engineering project in Europe”. We should all be proud. Will it come in on time and on budget? Will it do Scotland any good?

Maybe Brian could devote some of his column inches to explaining how another Labour government at Westminster would succeed in arresting the British decline where five or six others have not only failed, but made it worse.

Harry Corrigan, Ayr, South Ayrshire

Time for Senate

I attended Gordon Brown’s Solidarity rally at Central Hall, Edinburgh, on Thursday. All good stuff from all the speakers – Gordon himself with an inspiring opening speech followed by the witty Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin, Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham and, finally, Labour leader in Scotland Anas Sarwar.

We were reminded, rightly, of the ongoing failings of both the Tory Government and the misrule of the mouldering SNP in Scotland. For all the reasons given on the night, the present political system throughout the UK will probably have to change, including reforming what the House of Lords should become, what Brown called an elected Senate.

One might applaud everything Mr Brown and the other speakers said in advocating a solidarity union but perhaps this is now the time to be talking about changing to a federal political system, in fact changing from what we have now to a federation of states? If so, then how can this be sold to the voting people of the devolved nations, especially Scotland?

Leslie Howson, Edinburgh

Tory twin

At the Labour love-fest in Edinburgh, Gordon “the Vow” Brown made empty promises Scots have heard before, ad nauseum. Decentralise Westminster power, devolve power to the “regions” and “make the Union work”.

Politely, this is drivel. Gordon Brown, Andy Burnham, Mark Drakeford and Anas Sarwar have zero power to effect these changes because they won’t be in a Labour government. Keir Starmer wants to “make Brexit work” when it’s a complete bust, keep energy, transport and water in private hands, accelerate NHS privatisation, jail protesters, criminalise migrants, fight the unions over fair pay, impose further austerity and avoid electoral reform. Labour is a Tory twin.

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Regardless of who rules – Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer – the UK government will ram through the retained EU law bill to reassert complete Westminster control over Scotland. Devolution was always a trap – power devolved is power retained. Scotland has no veto over English decisions – our MPs are outvoted 10 to 1 – and we’ve no control over our land, resources, or economy, and our people are poor. The Union is a sham.

The only way to stop the ransacking of Scotland is for the sovereign people to take back control over territorial assets that have, under international law, always been theirs.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

Free thinking

One way to make Low Emission Zones more positively acceptable, as most people do not anticipate a future life with breathing problems etc, would be to make all public transport universally free so it would be easy and attractive for everyone, instead of having to be younger than a certain age, or older, or indeed, disabled to be entitled to a bus pass.

We could all benefit from a better environment and everyone could be encouraged financially to use (free) public transport as the default manner of moving. This could be followed by thinking progressively about our environment so that island ferries would be free, and maybe trains as well.

Norman Lockhart, Innerleithen, Scottish Borders

Oiled brains?

I am not an angry man but when I watch videos of Just Stop Oil loons holding up ordinary motorists and van and lorry drivers, all the while being escorted by the police, I feel enraged.

Just who do these people think they are? Without oil we would have no plastics of all types and uses. Without plastic the NHS would collapse. These wasters want oil to be left in the ground. So no oil for wind machine gearboxes, or EV reduction gearboxes, or for the giant diesel engines in container ships bringing wealth to our shores. This is madness and so is allowing these eco-terrorists to disrupt the life of the nation while the police are powerless to stop them.

William Loneskie, Oxton, Lauder, Berwickshire

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