What would change with Rish Sunak in charge? - Readers' Letters

No matter how low the bar is set for leadership and responsibility, Boris Johnson seems to effortlessly limbo under it. Brian Wilson (Scotsman, December 11) foresees the end as Johnson ceases to be an electoral asset, with Rishi Sunak his most likely successor.

Rishi Sunak would appear to be favourite to succeed Boris Johnson should he be ousted as Prime MInister

The clamour for change is reminiscent of when England and the Tories had finally had enough of Margaret Thatcher. Her replacement, John Major, was an affable figure but under his leadership Thatcher's programme continued apace. More public assets were privatised and the disastrous PFI was launched (and later accelerated under Labour, something I notice Brian Wilson is not keen to remind us of), leaving our schools, hospitals and councils with an enduring burden of debt.

What could we expect from Rishi Sunak? Better coiffure, and the business of government perhaps conducted with less cynical shenanigans. But the suicidal hard Brexit policy and the Internal Market Bill will continue to steadily decimate our prosperity and services.

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Anyone in regular contact with friends or relatives in England will be aware of how envious they are of Scotland's umbrella of policies which prioritise the welfare of all in our society. Along with the preservation of signature policies such as free prescriptions, free higher education and free personal care for the elderly, the new budget, with its doubling of child payments, will lift 40,000 children in Scotland out of poverty

However, regardless of whether or not we are “led” by Boris Johnson, these policies will come under increasing threat until Scotland is finally free of the baleful influence of UK mismanagement.

Jim Daly, Edinburgh

Threat is real

On Saturday there was a march through the centre of Dundee of those who do not believe in vaccination; vaccine passports; mask wearing and other alleged governmental control instruments. I recognise everyone’s right to protest, they (we) are entitled to do so.

What I find difficult to understand is that these marchers were permitted to enter an Indoor location – ie the Overgait Centre.

Nearly everyone else (normal shoppers) walking about was observing the rules by wearing masks. However, these marchers were all unmasked and shouting out their slogans – a Covid super-spreader event in the making.

Then, listening to John Swinney on the radio yesterday, the inteviewer tried to imply that since the severity of Omicron is “less” than the Delta variant, couldn’t we just live with it and carry on?

John Swinney took him to task over this remark, stating clearly that the infection rate increasing at the current rates, will cause increased hospital visits, which will impact the performance of their normal performance. The hospitality industry are looking for clarity again: how clear does it need to be?

Increasing Omicron infections are bad, however mild; the Scottish health service will be badly affected, due to collateral damage and the reduction in staff availability.

Critical health backlogs will increase, and above normal death rates in Scotland will continue to increase, as has been reported over the last six months.

Alistair Ballantyne, Birkhill, Angus

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Decisive action

Friday’s coronavirus briefing saw Jason Leitch graphically describe how one infected individual can transmit the Omicron variant to up to 70 others in a room of 100. I was bracing myself for another lockdown to save lives and our NHS when I learnt later that the only additional restrictions were for whole households to self-isolate and to refrain from having parties, which to some will sound hypocritical given the UK government’s behaviour.

Readers will know that I and health experts have been warning about a new variant and a winter NHS crisis for months. The UK and Scottish governments need to get a grip to find a way out of a potential Omicron shambles, implementing guidance from health advisors.

Other European countries have tightened restrictions and have fewer cases. We can’t continue to rely on the booster programme alone – double jags, seen once as the way out, are ineffective against Omicron, making the current vaccine passport quickly obsolete. The alternative will be that the economy, protected over the NHS, will be hit harder due to self-isolation and many businesses will fail.

While many like me are fed up with this virus, the real losers are loved ones of those who have died, whose critical treatments have been delayed, have waited hours for an emergency ambulance and those struggling to live with its effects. These are the people to think about along with our amazing health workers this Christmas, in the hope action is taken urgently to save others.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Hot to trot

While listening to the radio the other day my attention was pricked by an item discussing the correct way to cook a turkey and how to check the temperature of the meat with a thermometer. Imagine my surprise when the piece ended with advice to visit the Scottish Government website for fuller information.

My mind started to wander, and I found myself trying to identify other items that the general public would enjoy guidance on: how to tie one’s shoelaces perhaps, or the correct way to replace a blown light bulb, or even how long to dip the tea bag to ensure the perfect cuppa. It’s so comforting to know that we have a teams of people tasked with providing this level of guidance!

Michelle Wright, Rosyth, Fife

Power prices

Your editorial "Economic case for fossil fuels is fading" (11 December) quotes Fatih Bisol, of the International Energy Agency saying a “historic surge in clean energy investment could create millions of jobs and increase economic growth”.

Firstly, investment in energy should be by governments, not private investors, and secondly, if clean energy includes nuclear energy then what he says may be possible.

Unfortunately it may not be possible to decarbonise the energy sector over the next 20 years by increasing renewable generating capacity. This will be achieved in Great Britain by generating 50 per cent of our electricity from nuclear and 25 per cent from gas generation with carbon capture and storage by 2040.

Our politicians seem unwilling to accept that what is needed is a national energy authority, established as a statutory body, which would be dedicated to providing the country with electricity based on security of supply, low greenhouse gas emissions and low electricity prices.

To achieve increased economic growth it is essential that the Standard Price of Electricity by 2025 be lower than its present price of 20.4 p per kWh and this will not be possible with the present form of governance of the energy sector.

C Scott, Edinburgh

Put in the picture

At COP 26 Nicola Sturgeon was busy with photo-ops and telling everyone how advanced our sustainable capabilities are, and now sufficient to meet all our needs.

Last week at her Longannet chimney photo opportunity (Scotsman, 10 December) the actual policy objectives were made clear: the SNP aims to have half of our energy needs met from sustainable sources by 2030.

As ever there is a huge gap between the SNP soundbites and photos and the real position.

Vaughan Hammond, Braco Perth and Kinross

Council tax hikes

Kate Forbes has granted local authorities greater powers over council tax (Scotsman, 10 December). That's basically good, as it'll allow them to recoup more of community-created locational values. Tax rises will also take the heat out of the market by deterring speculation, especially in Edinburgh.

It is, however, a great pity that power over income tax has not been devolved to our councils, which would enable them to carry out politically unpopular council tax hikes while ensuring revenue neutrality by cutting income tax (and benefitting working people in the process).

Forty years ago the old rating system had fallen into disrepute due to a chronic lack of revaluations; reform had become a very hot potato, hence the introduction of the poll tax. Nowadays council tax is similarly in need of a radical overhaul – ie untaxing of the bricks-and-mortar element, biennial revaluations, and the scrapping of the single-occupier discount.

George Morton, Rosyth, Fife

Slower growth

I noted that Kate Forbes in her explanatory article entitled “Here is what the Scottish Budget will enable us to achieve” (Scotsman, 10 December) mentioned the soon to be released “ten-year National Strategy for Economic Transformation” to support business activity.

This would appear to be an admission that previous strategies have failed to deliver as intended.

One of the consequences of such failures could be the shortfall in income tax revenues of £190 million 2022/23 and up to £417m in 2023/24 as highlighted by your reporter Alistair Grant (Scotsman, 10 December).

This is clearly a result of slower economic growth compared with the UK. It is also remarkable that it is implicitly admitted that not enough attention has been placed on life-long learning in the past so the budget has been increased by £68m to almost £124.6m That is more than a doubling up from what it was.

When the main objective of the SNP is independence, you wonder why the economy is set to underperform versus the UK when the this party has held power since 2007.

John Peter, Airdrie, North Lanarkshire

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