Readers' Letters: Yousaf should not deny poor state of Scotland

Anyone waking up and finding they are First Minister would no doubt wonder if they could do something about poverty and find a way to encourage the economy to grow.

Yet the context of Humza Yousaf being in the role is that the SNP have been in power for 16 years (“A performance unlikely to sway Yousaf critics”, The Scotsman, 6 September). That means there is a great deal of baggage he must take responsibility for. Sadly, in his first Programme for Government, Humza Yousaf chose to sidestep all that has gone wrong over the years, from NHS waiting lists to the attainment gap in education, from tragically high deaths due to drug and alcohol addiction, through to the continuing ferry scandal. Our First Minister chose to ignore all of that and more, trying instead to divert everyone’s attention towards laudable ambitions on poverty and the economy. Those suffering from the SNP Government’s failures in so many critical public services will wonder whether overcoming the accumulated crises and missed targets should be the priority now, rather than any new initiatives, no matter how well meaning they might be.

There are huge challenges facing the Scottish Government. Being in denial about what should really be prioritised will not help.

Keith Howell, West Linton, Scottish Borders

First Minister Humza Yousaf sets out his first Programme for Government since becoming leader at Scottish Parliament on Tuesday (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)First Minister Humza Yousaf sets out his first Programme for Government since becoming leader at Scottish Parliament on Tuesday (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
First Minister Humza Yousaf sets out his first Programme for Government since becoming leader at Scottish Parliament on Tuesday (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Poor comparison

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In attacking the Programme for Government, George Shanks (Letters, 7 September) seems to forget that the Scottish Government’s budget has been hammered thanks to UK inflation and Westminster’s failures to tackle the cost of living crisis, plus higher energy costs which are all exacerbated by Brexit. However, the SNP has made considerable progress when compared to their predecessors or other parts of the UK.

Figures published by Action for Children showed that the percentage of children living in poverty was England, 31 per cent, Wales, 28 per cent and Scotland, 24 per cent – and that was before the Scottish Child Payment, which has lifted 90,000 children out of poverty. Also, Crisis UK figures show that rates of core homelessness are substantially lower in Scotland (0.57 per cent of households) than in England (0.94 per cent) and Wales (0.66 per cent).

The number of schools in a good or satisfactory condition was 61.5 per cent in 2007 but is now 90.7 per cent under the SNP. RAAC and crumbling schools is not such a big problem in Scotland, with many more modern schools than in England or Wales. We also have the best-performing NHS in the UK, with more nurses, doctors, dentists and hospital beds per head of population than in England or Labour-run Wales.

As the latest Labour U-turn is opposing a wealth tax while trying to portray itself as a party of low taxation, yet supporting Brexit which has trashed the UK economy, we can take their spending promises with a very large dose of salt.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Old feelings

A quote from the report of the Royal Commission on Scottish Affairs, dated July 1954, almost 70 years ago: "The dissatisfaction [as regards Scotland’s relationship England] is partly founded on a widespread belief that the Treaty of 1707 is no longer remembered as the voluntary union of two proud people, each with their own distinctive national and cultural characteristics, but as the absorption of Scotland by England.”

For many of us Scots, in this 21st century, does the above not seem still somewhat relevant ?

Robert M Dunn, Edinburgh

Hardly stupid

Les McKay (Letters, 7 September) repeats an allegation that Unionists think Scotland is “Too weak, too poor, too stupid” to go it alone.

No Unionists I know have used that phrase, so perhaps it’s used by Nationalists in the belief that if they say it often enough, people will believe it’s how those of us who do not want independence think.

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In reality, it’s because Scots are strong and intelligent that the majority do not want independence, as demonstrated not in fancy parades or speeches, but in a referendum, and one where Nationalists have simply not accepted the result.

Perhaps Nationalists think Scots are “too stupid” to vote for independence, when the opposite is true. Scots are too intelligent to vote for independence.

Brian Barbour, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland

Cutting off nose

Ian Moir (Letters, 7 September) is completely right to mention the SNP’s failure to support Ken Clarke’s amendment to Theresa May’s Brexit bill in 2019. This amendment, which would have kept the UK in the EU Customs Union, fell by six votes, while 35 SNP MPs abstained.

It was not, though, that Nicola Sturgeon – who ordered the mass abstention – was refusing “to accept that half a load was better than no bread”. Ms Sturgeon wanted nothing short of a hard Brexit, which would, she believed, give her more grievance ammunition for her separatist campaign.

Muddying the waters by having access to the Customs Union would have vitiated that aim. We can see the effects of that now, as Humza Yousaf dishonestly offers Scots an “independent Scotland in the EU". This is a major plank in the SNP platform, even though a glance at the Acquis Communautaire (EU regulations) tells them that a country that does not control its own monetary policy cannot apply to join the EU.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Iran balance

I have no affection for the theocratic regime in Iran, but I am concerned that the Scotsman allows a weekly rant against that regime by Struan Stevenson to stand for balanced journalism. I understand that certain columnists have very fixed political views, and I think most readers can work out whether what they write is fact or prejudice, but in this case, Mr Stevenson's immoderate language and intemperate vitriol pours out weekly on your pages, with no attempt at a balanced view.

I can't be alone in feeling that I would prefer to understand this aspect of Middle Eastern politics in a more objective way.

Brian Bannatyne-Scott, Edinburgh

Focus needed

The storm clouds are gathering over the NHS in Scotland with fears that last year's unnecessary winter deaths will be exceeded because of the healthcare crisis. Health professionals have warned of a lack of beds to cope with a patient surge while doctors' vacancies are reducing the required level of service. Coupled to that is bed blocking and the resultant delay in discharging fit patients back into the community because of a lack of care packages.

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Yet Health Secretary Michael Matheson seems to be focusing upon assisted dying legislation and the return of a rogue surgeon from Libya. While these issues are important, I would think that having a strategy to safeguard lives during a potential winter healthcare crisis would be paramount, but he seems to be following the same laissez-faire approach as predecessors Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Highs and lows

It seems far too often that we read about the failings at Edinburgh Airport and, regretfully, I must add to these anecdotes. I travelled on Monday 4 September from Edinburgh to Alicante, supposedly departing at 07.15hrs. On arrival at the airport, check in via was very good as usual, but then the debacle began. Approaching the escalator to security check-in, I and the waiting masses were guided by an official to join the queue outside the airport doors, which must have been 100 yards long! The queue contained many travellers from all over the world whose initial bemusement turned quickly to anger at the wait. We cleared security after some considerable time.

It seems that on that day there were close to 30 flights departing Edinburgh between 06.00hrs and 07.00hrs. My own flight, which boarded on time, was delayed by 40 minutes as our Captain announced delays to the baggage being loaded. It is abundantly clear that this airport is not fit for purpose, with only six security lanes, one of which is supposedly for “fast track” security clearance – a clear breach of advertising standards for those who had paid for that!

For a capital city and a supposed “international” airport it was an embarrassment, andno further routes should be added until the required infrastructure is put in place.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Britain’s pride

For the benefit of actor David Harewood and the rest of the grievance industry, Britain did more than apologise for its part in the slave trade. It used the West Africa Squadron from 1808–1867 to put it out of business for good. No other nation went to naval war with the entire world to stamp out a moral repugnance – and won.

Every British schoolchild should be taught about the pride of the Squadron, HMS Black Joke, a former slave ship, and its brave crew of British marines and Kru tribesmen who avenged the brutalities wrought on their people. Instead, their memory is insulted by virtue signallers belittling their deeds.Some 1,600 British sailors and their African tribal allies died so 150,000 Africans would be freed from a fate worse than death on the plantations of the Americas – 35,850 settled in the West Indies to become the ancestors of those who later came to the UK. It is Harewood who should apologise for insulting their memory.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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