Readers' Letters: Yousaf's council tax freeze shows his economic illiteracy
It is an uncosted, highly irresponsible political gesture with huge operational and costly consequences for the future delivery of frontline services to every citizen in Scotland. Imagine a privately run business declaring in October that “all of our customers will have their prices frozen for the next financial year”. Commercial suicide!
You simply cannot decide on such a unilateral financial policy before you even know and are able to budget for future raw material, suppliers and labour costs! With annual wage and salary increases currently sitting above inflation at just under eight per cent and no real prospect of them being less than five per cent next year, Yousaf in one stroke has just cut the income – and therefore budgets – of local authorities by millions of pounds, all as a desperate political stunt to try and revive his struggling leadership and hopelessly incompetent government.
The economic and commercial illiteracy exhibited by Yousaf speaks volumes about his overall (lack of) capability.
Gordon Presly, Crosshouse, East Ayrshire
So Humza Yousaf promises to freeze Scottish council tax – without explaining how the ensuing significant shortfall in local government income will be funded. Presumably, councils will either cut services, or the SNP administration must make up the shortfall from central funding. This will require cash to be taken from spending on, say, education, roads, transport, housing, the environment, and the NHS – or the SNP will increase income tax yet again to pay for this dubious act of “generosity”.
Yousaf likely imagines he might bribe some of the many voters deserting the SNP for Scottish Labour to stick with him. But commonsense voters already know full well that the magic money tree doesn’t exist – except in SNP la la land.
Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire
Not so useless
I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories, my advanced years have taught me that human mess-ups are far more likely to be the cause of major happenings.
Yet I must confess I am tempted by the claim some make that the present First Minister got the post he now holds in order to be the fall guy for the long series of blunders, verging on catastrophes, including the ferries fiasco and much else, of previous SNP leaderships over the past years. He certainly could not have been elected on his previous brilliance as a minister in various roles – his record in office would suggest much the opposite was the case.
The former KGB used to refer placemen they manoeuvred into positions of influence to take the heat as “useful idiots” and perhaps that also could apply in this instance.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh
The never-ending cry from the SNP is, as expected, for “independence”. But economically, structurally and politically, Scotland is less sound than it was when the Scottish Parliament was re-inaugurated in 1998.
Historically, of course, it was the disastrous state of Scotland’s economy which led to the transfer of government to London back in 1707. The SNP may be classed as idealists, but they are by no means realists. Without the huge annual subsidies to the Scottish economy from Westminster, via the Barnett formula, Scotland would become one of the poorest countries in Europe – and there would be no hope of economic assistance from the EU. So where on earth do the Nationalists think the funding would come from to keep Scotland solvent?
First Minister Yousaf is most certainly deluding himself if he really believes that he can lead Scotland into a new age of prosperity. A change of administration at Holyrood must be seen as a priority for Scotland's sake. The farce of a Scottish Government must be stopped in its tracks before any further harm is caused to this great wee part of the British Isles.
Also, it has become very obvious to a great many folks of various political persuasions that the present situation cannot be allowed to continue until the appointed date for the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2026. The floodgates will have burst long before then!
Scotland urgently needs a change of Government!
Robert I G Scott, Northfield, Ceres, Fife
Unfair to poorest
Peter Hopkins (Letters, 18 October) states that “when a party’s message is seen to be unachievable and its aims pointless, that party soon disappears, like snow off a dyke.” As Mr Hopkins is referring to the SNP one wonders why this did not happen after the 2014 referendum, given the clear vote. What has changed since then? One thing that has recently is that the SNP has a new leader who is not as popular as his predecessor; however, policy direction is similar given Humza Yousaf was the continuity candidate.
Another difference is the cost-of-living crisis.
Polls show that Scotland’s biggest single issue is the economy, followed by health. Independence languishes at a distant third, which explains why Humza Yousaf is trying to make a case as to why Scots should vote for it.
On Sunday he was pedalling the argument that Westminster was failing Scotland’s interests. It was suggested that he has tax-raising powers of his own. He could help those struggling now by taking low earners out of income tax and reduce the top-rate threshold. This would improve income equality, but instead he has announced a council tax freeze benefiting mainly middle- and high-income earners, given the lowest income groups are exempt.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation reported that many of the extra 300,000 Scots falling into absolute poverty since March are low-income women, single parents and the disabled. It seems unfair that a couple can earn around £85,000 per year paying the 21 per cent tax rate, while a single mother or pensioner earning from around £15,000 pays a rate just one per cent lower. As the SNP are courting the better-off it is difficult to see this inequality being addressed and one wonders how, with this tax inequality, low-income groups can ever aspire to prosperity.
Neil Anderson, Edinburgh
Biden must go
It was with some alarm that I watched the President of the United States in Israel delivering his statement yesterday. It seems clear Joe Biden is finding it harder and harder to deliver his messages in a clear and coherent manner. At a time when the world faces global threats from China, Russia and a very dangerous Middle East teetering on the brink of a multi-nation war, the west needs energetic and coherent leadership from the United States of America.
It is absolutely time that the powers that be in the USA must advise President Biden that it is not an option to stand for the Presidency again. However, I do appreciate the worrying alternative of a Trump presidency. The US must look long and hard as to what sort of leader will guide them from November 2024.
Richard Allison, Edinburgh
You’d have to have a heart made of stone not to feel saddened, and angry, by a recent news photograph. A small boy crying amidst the chaos at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt sums up everything that is wrong about the current situation in Gaza. Gaza’s health ministry has reported that at least 2,750 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 wounded in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip since 7 October. Israel has asked civilians to move south, to put them out of reach of their planned operations, but they have no idea what they’ll be facing when – if – they return to their homes. More than a million people have been displaced, and almost 3,000 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 wounded in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip since 7 October.
The bewilderment in the faces of young children waiting to be evacuated to Limassol in Cyprus is heartbreaking. How do you explain to a three-year-old child why their life has changed overnight, and their parents are helpless and unable to restore normality? How do you explain why Israeli airstrikes are killing thousands of Palestinians?
China’s foreign Minister, Wang Yi, has called for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza, to prevent a further humanitarian disaster.
War is hell, and every effort should be made to avoid going down that road.
Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry, Dundee
Get storms done
I don't know if anyone is aware of how storms such as “Babet” are named (your report, 18 October), but the input seems to be largely of Irish and Dutch origin, despite the Met Office supposedly having a say. This has led to the first storm of the year being named “Agnes”. The next one will be “Ciarán”. Others will include “Erin”, “Olga” and “Piet”. Call me insular, but how do any of these names relate to Blighty? Where is “Gertie”, “Bess”, or “Menzies”, for example?
I suggest we give storms our own names. As they are going to hit every part of the UK, how about “Doddie” and “Effie”, “Fred”, “Harry”, “Jonesy” and “Madog”? Or, “Boab” for the present one, followed by “Charlie” and, later on, “Gruntfuttock”?
It's time we made Brexit work and I suggest that naming storms with solid British names for all parts of our island would make a good start.
Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh
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