Readers' Letters: Was First Minister too 'feart' to face Commons committee?

Brian Monteith highlights the apparent focus of First Minister Humza Yousaf on the global scene as against the domestic politics with which he should primarily be concerned.
Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf at a COP28 event in Dubai last month (Picture: Getty Images)Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf at a COP28 event in Dubai last month (Picture: Getty Images)
Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf at a COP28 event in Dubai last month (Picture: Getty Images)

In contrast to his predecessors who will give evidence to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, it appears Mr Yousaf is “too busy” to speak to MPs and articulate his views on his plans for Scotland, which we would all like to hear about (Perspective, 15 January). It would have been a useful platform to bolster his image.

Yet he has found time to attend COP28 in Dubai, visit New York and pronounce his views on Gaza and Yemen, all areas more within the remit of the UK Government than his. One must wonder whether his reticence to appear before the Commons committee is because he is “feart” or considers his attendance to be a waste of time and detracting from his “world leader” status international obligations.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Small and nuclear

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A major scandal is the current ownership of energy supplies in this country. Not one has a major ownership associated with this country, with the upshot that 100 per cent of the high costs that business and householders fork out for energy leave the country. This is not to say that investors don’t deserve a return on their investment, but it sticks in the throat that hardly any of the cash we fork out stays to do good here in the UK

Now we have government eager to implement large-scale nuclear capacity in a bid to reach net zero. This requires vast expenditure funded by overseas entities requiring equally vast subsidy to entice them to part with their cash. UK taxpayers should wake up to the deceit of net zero being foisted on us, along with the huge cost to each of us.

We have indigenous industry who can supply smaller scale nuclear power plants which only need the go-ahead to start building now. This will keep important skills in this country and enable the UK to control expenditure and forward energy costs under local control. Instead of relying on others to fund items such as energy we should ensure billions sitting as savings within this country are put to work on behalf of us all.

I am not suggesting that we allow this or future governments to manage this on our behalf. We need a new approach which handles UK infrastructure funding at arms length to national government. In addition, we need to create additional funding streams, perhaps through specific taxing to create funding for such an entity.

I am not holding my breath.

Tony Lewis, Coylton, Ayrshire

Historic cock-up

The Scotsman editorial arguing that Israel should exercise restraint in the Gaza conflict (13 January) is well behind the curve, given the US and UK have been asking for just that for months and last month more than 70 per cent of people polled by YouGov went further by agreeing there should be an immediate ceasefire. Furthermore, on BBC’s Question Time last Thursday the biggest applause among an audience of undecided voters came when one member said he would give his vote to the party that backed a ceasefire.

The 100-day-old conflict has seen more than 20,000 women and children needlessly killed while the UK and US have stood by, with the latter continuing to supply arms to Israel to prosecute their bombardment. Meanwhile the Israeli people are increasingly vocal against this heinous way of rescuing hostages and demanding a change of leadership. To pretend the bombing of the Houthi rebels in Yemen will not escalate the conflict is grossly negligent.

We need to wake up and realise that we face the UK’s biggest foreign policy disaster in the Middle East since Suez in 1956 by continuing to refuse to condemn US arms supply to Israel and by widening the conflict.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Obscene profits

Yet again some of the most powerful countries in the world are bombing one of the poorest. Share prices in BAe Systems and Lockheed Martin have risen 2 per cent since the initial attack on Yemen. According to Unicef,11,100,000 children and 10,500,000 adults in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance, from a population of 34,500,000. The Unicef 2023 appeal is short by $351 million. Will those who have profited make a donation?

Geoff Moore, Alness, Highland

Drugs shame

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Scotland, to the shame of those running our domestic affairs for the past decade or so, remains stubbornly fixed at the top of the drug deaths league, way ahead of the nearest contender. It is perhaps the only international table where, under the SNP-Greens, we can claim to be top.

No world leader will be calling the First Minister and asking for advice in that matter. What cannot be denied is that it needs urgent attention and focus, with the figures for Dundee and Glasgow quite staggering. And yet that is what it has decidedly not had during the years of nationalist hegemony in Scotland, where the problem has ranked far, far behind, say, pretend embassies and jollies for the SNP-Green boys and girls overseas and the milking of expenses.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Be afraid

Quibbling over Laffer Curve interpretations can’t conceal the latest damage inflicted by what Robert Farquharson calls “a small increase” in income tax (Letters, 13 January). Those earning more than £28,000 annually now have even less disposable income than their fellow citizens elsewhere in Britain. Nearly 40 per cent of Scotland’s working population pays no taxes at all, so low are their earnings – a damning indictment of the unapologetic SNP/Green failure to grow the economy.

One-fifth of people in our workforce are state employees, while the UK average stands at just 16.7 per cent. Last year the Scottish Government spent £107 billion on this expanding public sector (along with the ever-increasing social welfare payments) but received only £88bn in revenue. Yet another budgetary onslaught on hardworking people will do little to plug a £19bn shortfall or support struggling local authorities; thank God for the Barnett formula.

Business Scotland UK say: “The budget will act as a profound disincentive to inward investors and new business creation in Scotland. Higher taxes further eroding consumer confidence with inevitable impacts on business already grappling with high inflation and interest rates.”

Mr Farquharson may, of course, dismiss such talk as “scaremongering”. Well, only time will tell.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Heated debate

The SNP Energy Plan indicates a capacity of 85GW of generation plant on the Scottish grid by 2035. However, Jim Stamper (Letters, 15 January) did not note that, in summer, demand will drop to less than 10GW, so around 75GW of capacity will sit idle, accruing Constraint Payments of about £75 per MWhour for 2,000 hours.

The £9 billion levy must be paid by Scottish consumers, thus increasing annual energy bills by about £3,000 per household as English demand will fall in line with that in Scotland, resulting in those facing fuel poverty cascading into fuel penury. It is surely time for an “energetic debate” at Holyrood!

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

Mayans’ demise

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Barry Hughes questions my credibility with reference to suggestions from climate alarmists that current droughts are yet another indicator of human-induced global warming and that I make erroneous dated reference to the Classic Period of the Mayan Civilisation (Letters, 15 January). May I clarify, firstly, that I was simply referring broadly to the near 2,000-year period of their influence; and secondly, what I actually wrote was that a series of devastating droughts are believed to have been “a major factor in their demise” and not necessarily the sole cause, as he suggests I wrote. This has been verified by multiple research bodies. It is well known that political and social conflict were other factors at play.

Barry correctly points out that the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors was another contributory factor, but in essence they administered the coup-de-grace on an already disintegrating civilisation, due in large part to their superior weaponry and European diseases. Returning to the perceived link between present droughts and elevated levels of CO2, it is worth noting other examples dating from thousands to hundreds of years ago that devastated civilisations in Syria, Egypt, China and the Americas which obviously had no link with human emissions.

This is not climate denial, it is a simple statement of fact.

Neil J Bryce, Gateshaw, Scottish Borders

In praise of sceptics

I should like to point out to Barry Hughes that scepticism is the lifeblood of science. Current global warming is a measurable entity and thus universally accepted by scientists. That it is to any great extent caused by burning fossil fuels is not measurable and is still very much open to scepticism.

Unfortunately the debate is now more political than scientific – and politicians, some of whom have made millions from it, of course control the purse strings. Let's remember that Galileo was forced to recant his theories by the “flat earth” Church and State; those few of his fellow travellers who were brave enough and did not were burnt at the stake.

A McCormick, Terregles, Dumfries and Galloway

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