Scotsman Letters: Politicians have no right to keep facts from us

Politicians like Nicola Sturgeon need to bear a few facts in mind. They are employed by us, the electorate, to do a job. We need to be kept fully informed about their actions so that we know whether they are carrying it out to our satisfaction.

If they tell us that it is not in our interest to know what they have been up to then we need to be suspicious. If an employee told their employer that what they were doing had be kept secret then they would be promptly dismissed. The Ferguson Marine scandal requires full transparency – anything less suggests that the SNP government has something to hide and is unfit for purpose.

Helen Hughes, Edinburgh

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No chance

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insists transparency is important to her government (Picture: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Conor Matchett, in “What it is like for a reporter to battle Scotland’s Freedom of Information system” (18 May), highlights the delay to his own FoI request on the legal advice around a second Independence referendum. I fear Conor is in for a very long wait on that one; has it ever occurred to him that this “advice” doesn’t exist?

Andrew Kemp, Rosyth, Fife

Silent Sarah?

Are the BBC now so afraid of losing their licence fee that they have become like the Russian media, committed to pleasing their paymaster? In vain, I have waited to hear about Nicola Sturgeon’s tour of the USA, her meeting with Nancy Pelosi, and her prestigious talk at the Brookings Institution. With hope, I have read in the US Associated Press of her intentions to deliver another independence referendum next year, as she was asked to do by the people of Scotland when they voted her into power at Holyrood.With delight, I read that she intends to apply to rejoin the EU, to join Nato and to remove the rusting nuclear hulks that lurk in Faslane. That is why she has my vote, and the votes of many others. There is a BBC correspondent, Sarah Smith, in Washington who has an interest in Scottish politics. Where is she?

Frances Scott, Edinburgh

Laughing stock?

I found two telling items in The Scotsman of Saturday 14 May. Firstly, the apposite letter from S Beck about the Scottish electorate being “idiots” Then, as is often the case, Brian Wilson pinpoints a relevant story about Scottish life (Perspective). He refers to a report in the New York Times about restoration of degraded peatlands, and the lack of attention being given to this by the Scottish administration. I suggest the story makes us look like “idiots” in New York also.

In considering Nicola Sturgeon’s visit to the USA, the American people will know that she has no remit to discuss foreign affairs. The Americans will be polite, but will pay no attention to her views, and see her visit as self-aggrandisement. One wonders whether, after she leaves, Americans will view us all as “Stupid Northbritish People” (SNP)!

J MacKay, Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire

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What it is like to battle Scotland's Freedom of Information system

Why bother?

Dr Alan Naylor seems to think there is a “clamour for another independence referendum” (Letters, 18 May). He must read the nationalist press, such as it is. In fact, most people in Scotland don't want another independence referendum any time soon. Nicola Sturgeon doesn't want one either, because she knows she would lose. She is swanning about in America right now, trying to move people's attentions away from her party's failure on all fronts.

Dr Naylor wants a campaign to “rejoin Europe”, but we have never left. We have only left a sclerotic organisation called the EU and we decided the issue in 2016. If we held the referendum again, the losers would want to hold it once more and then the losers next time around would want to hold it yet again. If you never accept the decision from a referendum, why bother with them?

Peter Hopkins, Edinburgh

A simple plan

The Bank of England is increasing interest rates to quash inflation. It won’t work (your report, 17 May). Inflation isn’t caused by excess consumer demand, but by the UK’s mismanagement of Covid and a self-inflicted Brexit, exacerbated by war and global warming.

Office of National Statistics data shows that real wages have fallen while food and energy prices have risen, making people poorer.The costs of producing food and energy haven’t risen so price rises are being driven by speculative profit-taking in the face of the external shocks of Brexit, Covid and war. The wealthy will survive these shocks and also benefit from higher interest rates while the majority will suffer. Raising interest rates won’t cure the inflation disease and risks killing the patient.

Instead, the UK Government should act. It should restore benefit cuts, cancel the National Insurance increase, tax the energy companies and banks who are profiteering, cut VAT on fuel, increase wealth taxes and realign trade rules with the EU to cut the huge costs of Brexit. In addition, it should protect the vulnerable from Covid by ensuring workplace safety and pay for tests to relieve labour shortages.

If the Government fails to act, poverty and inequality will soar, public services will suffer through another round of austerity, people will die and the likelihood of recession and civil unrest will increase.

The SNP leadership must urgently extract Scotland from this apocalyptic union. It’s the only way Scotland can have a fairer, more prosperous and hopeful future.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

A stupid storm

Just as they promote the panic buying of fuel, the media are talking up the idea of inflation, assisted by the Bank of England’s own “apocalyptic” 10 per cent forecast. So at every point in a supply chain, something is added to a passing cost, whether needed or not. The end effect being an appreciable and unwarranted price rise for the consumer, and inflation thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Inflation is the result of an imbalance between money and goods available, and that has been caused by the “narrow” money of quantitative easing at last filtering into the economy, plus a goods shortage caused by Brexit, which has created delivery problems. Many haulage firms will not now deal with Britain, as they can’t afford to sit in a lorry queue at Dover for two days.

To add further gloom, energy costs have finally responded to the high cost of our unreasoning drive for renewables, plus the dogmatic discarding of clean nuclear, as opposed to the use of our huge reserves of fossil fuel.

All in all, a perfect storm of stupidity.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross

What prospectus?

Mary Thomas (Letters, May 17) describes the SNP's Growth Commission as “outdated”. The SNP prospectus for independence in 2014 was “outdated” as soon as the Nationalists lost the referendum. It, of course, had oil revenue “baked into” the figures. When the price of oil plummeted the Growth Commission produced a report downplaying the potential proceeds from oil. But like its predecessor it too was jettisoned almost as soon as it was printed, in its case because it painted a too gloomy – but accurate – picture of what independence would look like.

It will be some time before the SNP's current prospectus for an independent Scotland will be binned – because to date there isn't one. Ms Thomas really needs to get up to speed, though I do sympathise with her difficulty in keeping up with the dizzying number of SNP U-turns. She has reverted to pinning her hopes on oil, seemingly unaware that the SNP, along with their Green nationalists, wish to turn their backs on oil and leave it in the ground.

But what do I know? Perhaps oil has already been given a reprieve now that its price is back up. We have witnessed the SNP's virtuosity in performing the hokey cokey in relation to the EU and Nato.

I am also puzzled by Ms Thomas's claim that shipbuilding has been “consigned to history” by the UK government's lack of investment. Does she not know it has been "saved” by the SNP, which is investing in it to the tune of £240 million and counting? Perhaps Scotland would be “the richest country ever” to become independent. What worries me, however, and a majority of the Scottish people is – what happens after that?

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Paying McPeter

Murdo Fraser claims the First Minister “has a cabinet full of spanners, if she would only look” (Perspective, 18 May). He is referring to devolved powers, although no doubt choosing his words to have a dig at the cabinet. He then claims that “our First Minister could cut income tax in Scotland if she wished. She could create new benefits if she wanted”. He says this to support his point that the cost-of-living crisis is only being used to blame Westminster.

I have news for Murdo Fraser, which should not be news for a former shadow finance spokesperson. The FM could indeed cut income tax or create new benefits. The problem is that cutting income tax means that the Scottish Government, unlike the government at Westminster, then has less money to spend on benefits, or indeed on anything else. Creating new benefits to tackle the crisis could only be done by raising the level of Scottish tax, or by diverting significant funds from elsewhere in the budget.

Murdo Fraser and his colleagues should know this. After all, they keep reciting that the Scottish Government relied on pandemic funding from the UK government, which is true. It is also true that the UK government funded pandemic spending without raising taxes – that’s what a monetarily sovereign government can do. The Scottish Government is not (currently) monetarily sovereign.

George S Gordon, Juniper Green

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