Scotsman Letters: New economic strategy won’t help Scotland

Shortly after the publication of Scotland’s new economic strategy, a queue formed inside St Andrew’s House. Busy bureaucrats were so inspired they downed pens, rejected salaries, left their safe pensions behind and embraced the challenge of entrepreneurship. Fat chance. Instead they deposited the ten-year action plan in a bottomless drawer and started working on the next.

Scottish Finance Minister Kate Forbes says the Scottish Government's new national strategy on the economy will deliver an £8bn boost to the country (Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament via Getty Images)
Scottish Finance Minister Kate Forbes says the Scottish Government's new national strategy on the economy will deliver an £8bn boost to the country (Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament via Getty Images)

Only the Scottish Government could think the route to startup growth lies through the appointed of yet another salary souk called “Chief Entrepreneurship Officer”. The same government that managed to create an Investment Bank that hasn’t funded a single strategic development.

The document is stuffed with the usual tired old green cliches of; sustainability, just transitioning and climate care. The kind of sentiment that props up Putin. Europe is facing an energy crisis with Scotland uniquely positioned to supply increased quantities of oil and gas. Any economic strategy that ignores this reality is just a recipe for emigration.

The plan does, however, expose the paucity of thought emanating from an entitled political class in Edinburgh. Entrepreneurship can only be increased by pushing cash and resources away from comfy central government and into our communities, where the real risk takers reside. There’s net zero chance of that happening in this land of the brave quangos.

Calum Miller, Owner of Millersoft Ltd, Prestonpans, East Lothian

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So transparent

Perhaps I am being cynical, but I assume that, if the legal advice was that an IndyRef2 Bill could be permissible under the current devolution framework, the current Scottish Government would have been keen to publish it in the “interests of transparency”!

Dave McCormick, Duns, Scottish Borders

Culture of secrecy

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Does anyone else see the irony in Leah Gunn Barrett's frantic protests against the "police state" she says we live in (Letters, March 2) and her seeming lack of awareness of the culture of secrecy at the heart of the Scottish Government?

This week the SNP defends its refusal to divulge whether law officers confirm or not if a second independence referendum is within the powers of Holyrood. It is “not in the public interest”, apparently!

Last week the Education Minister had to defend the refusal – for more than a year – to respond to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request seeking the details of the draft OECD report and the SNP's comments on it. Would it be in the public interest to know how, for example, that a “decline in maths and science” in the draft was converted into “stable in maths and science”? The SNP's excuse to the Scottish information officer for their refusal to comply with the FOI request is that it would “damage international relations”!

These are simply the most recent examples of the machinations the SNP resort to in order to keep the Scottish people at arm’s length from the truth. Not that it is surprising, given that this is a party which has installed “communications frameworks” which “risk manage” communications which “could be interpreted as a critique of Scottish government policy” and routinely delay or refuse responses to FOIs. Perhaps Ms Barrett could do some research and inform us how many times in the recent past the SNP have been taken to task by the Scottish Information Commissioner, the Office for Statistics Regulation or the Auditors General for a lack of transparency? Like Ms Barrett I do wish that the Scottish people could escape from “this looming police state”.

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Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

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How Scottish Government's economic strategy will make Scotland £8 billion richer...

Logical brain

Young people under 25 should not be sent to jail because of their “emotional” brains, suggest new guidelines. If under-25s are so “immature” then they should also not be allowed to vote, marry or drink alcohol, all of which require, or should require, a degree of maturity which they clearly also must lack.

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Steve Hayes , Leven, Fife

Cycling to fantasy

I read, with some amusement, Phil Prentice’s piece about the need to re populate our town centres (Friends of the Scotsman, March 1). One clear reason as to why our town centres are emptying of residents is that the Councils involved have systematically made them more and more difficult to access by penalising drivers whilst pandering to the demands of a few noisy pressure groups.The idea that it would be a good thing if an 85-year-old lived within a 20-minute walk of shops, medical centre or eatery, as suggested by the 20-minute neighbourhood fantasy, would be laughable if it wasn’t so out of touch with reality.And I’m not just thinking of pensioners; young mothers, the disabled, sight impaired and many ordinary folk would be challenged by a 40-minute round trip walk to the grocery store.When will politicians wake up to the reality that normal people just want access and convenience and not pie in the sky theories that pander to a few who think they know better than the rest of us? Why do these so-called-experts think that out-of-town shopping centres are so popular? How many ordinary folk want to commute by bicycle in urban areas, winter and summer? Cycling is a great pastime in the countryside, in the woods and bridleways, of which there are many, but it is not for everyone.

Make town centres friendly and accessible again for all and the problem of depopulation would soon be a thing of the past.

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Jim Bell, Musselburgh, East Lothian

Sadly predictable

How sad, but predictable, to read that SNP President Mike Russell and SNP MSP Michelle Thomson have drawn comparisons between the invasion of Ukraine and Scotland's pursuit of independence and desire to rejoin the EU. It is quite incredible that they can only see the biggest threat to world peace since 1945 in terms of their petty political aims. God help us if they ever achieve their objective.

Jim Houston, Edinburgh

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Overpraised

It is surely over-the-top to praise Ursula von der Leyen in the same terms as JFK on Churchill, that in her European Parliament speech she “mobilised the English language and sent it into battle” (Editorial, 2 March).

At 63 she is a late learner. It is her country which has been the most myopic during Putin’s 22-year tenure and whose policies have given him the greatest support and war-chest, including in her time as Germany’s Defence Minister from 2013-2019 when she hardly covered herself or her ministry with glory, to put it as mildly as possible.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

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Late to party

My Census instruction has just popped through the letterbox. SNP supporters are always on this page waxing lyrical on Scotland’s superior performance in everything from Covid to climate change, so can any of them explain why this is a year late, yet the letterboxes of England, Wales and N Ireland rattled with Census letters on time in 2021?

Andrew Kemp, Rosyth, Fife

Kickback

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Just as the question of politics, war and sport gets a high profile on the international stage, the David Goodwillie saga resumes at local level (Scotsman, 2 March).

In response to Clyde's decision to take on the striker under a loan deal with Raith Rovers till the end of the season, John Mason MSP states that he will not be back at the club stadium, Broadwood, until then. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon supports the idea of rehabilitation, but regrets Mr Goodwillie’s perceived lack of remorse. For this reason, she asserts, he cannot be accepted as a “role model” for the sport.

Mr Mason's angst would be more credible if he stated that he would not return to any games, ever, when David Goodwillie was involved.

The First Minister needs to look closely at what she sees as the importance of role models. I am quite prepared to believe that some young men will copy perhaps the star's hairstyle or his type of play on the park. I need to be convinced that these same young men are likely to commit sexual assault or behave disdainfully towards women because they have seen him on a football field, or representing the club at social occasions.

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Where is the evidence that this might occur? Why is prominence on a soccer pitch considered more of a threat to women than how they are portrayed in some magazines and novels?

There may be a number of legal reasons for Mr Goodwillie's silence on the legal cases he has been involved in. The question of his rehabilitation needs to be given close scrutiny by the football authorities. His right to pursue a career for which he displays some talent needs to be balanced against the hurt he has caused.

Idle talk about the importance of role models is a distraction from the main issues involved.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

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PR stunt?

The whole sorry David Goodwillie affair rumbles on. There is an elephant in the room, however, that simply will not go away.

The footballer played for Clyde FC for five years and there was not a word, a syllable even, from the First Minister or any other prominent nationalist in that period. When the matter came to the fore, after the transfer to Raith Rovers, who happened to have a well-known SNP supporter as a sponsor and she was indignant, only then did the First Minister climb on board the righteous wagon.

It is hard not to conclude that she saw it only as another PR stunt once it was in the news.

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Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

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