Readers' Letters: Sturgeon fails Scottish energy entrepreneurs

I worked from the office next door to David Pike and Karin Sode in Musselburgh (“Energy suppliers Utility Point and People's Energy have ceased trading”, your report, 14 September).

People's Energy directors David Pike and Karin Sode

I witnessed first-hand how much effort they put into the People’s Energy company. They worked tirelessly in a very stressful environment to create a genuine public interest energy supplier.

For a while, they did succeed in creating the Energy Company the Scottish Government promised but failed to deliver. Had Nicola Sturgeon any genuine ambition, she could have nationalised that ready-made supply company this week. Talk is cheap, now all Scots must rely on English based companies for our access to the power network.Very deep pockets are needed to even out the peaks and troughs of the energy market. The recent wild price swings in gas and electricity will floor all but the biggest players in that sector.

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The few suppliers remaining, after the current price clear-out, will have an effective monopoly over us.That’s why there is a key role for government in our energy market and why our current political class is not without blame. They followed and swallowed the green propaganda which has both restricted the supply of gas and increased the price of electricity. Scotland’s relentless renewables drive has made the whole energy market much more volatile.A Green Dole when the wind doesn’t blow is no consolation to the workers losing their employment. David and Karin were wealth and job creators, they deserve our praise. Scotland needs many more entrepreneurs like them and a lot less like our hands-off First Minister.

Calum Miller, Musselburgh, East Lothian

Tests of change

The SNP, dissatisfied with the unambiguous message they received from the electorate in 2014, are continuing to demand another referendum. By calling for a second, the SNP concede that views can change over time.

Presumably they hope that the verdict will be different in 2023/24, though recent polls seem to indicate that No voters are still in a clear majority. However, a referendum is a very blunt instrument for determining complex constitutional questions and just suppose that by 2026, say, it was obvious that independence had been a dreadful disaster, just like Brexit. What then? Views would have changed again. Would we be entitled to call for a third referendum? And could the egg be reconstituted from the omelette?

It seems to me that for those who wish to alter Scotland’s constitutional position within the UK, a far better and much more scientific approach is to operate by evolution, making one small change at a time, then look at the outcome before deciding what to do next.

Helen Hughes, Edinburgh

Shameful cut

All talk and no action! It is said that we will know them by their deeds. Well, that was very evident in the House of Commons on Wednesday when voting took place on the Opposition day motion to scrap the withdrawal of the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit.

Previous calls from more than 100 Conservative MPs and six former Conservative Work and Pension Secretaries not to withdraw the £20 saw those very MPs abstain on the vote, guilty of the sin of omission. Guilty of plunging hard working families and children into poverty. This cut is the largest welfare cut since the establishment of the welfare state and the Conservatives should be thoroughly ashamed.

But this cut does not stand alone, other attacks on low earners by the Westminster Government include the furlough ending this month and National Insurance increases, all while there are no tax rises for the wealthy. Other increases coming for households include rises in fuel charges and inflation running at 3.2 per cent. Where does the Prime Minister’s commitment to “levelling up” across the country fit into this action?

Where is this levelling up, where is the support for those working in our care sector, our supermarkets, our hospitals?

This is yet more evidence of the Conservative Government going after the easy option of the poor.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk

How much debt?

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes says Scotland needs more borrowing powers. Andrew Wilson, who chaired the SNP sustainable growth commission, said the existing ones were not fit for purpose.

Has one of our 129 MSPs at Holyrood questioned just how much debt Scotland has accumulated, or been able to put a figure on the cost of our present annual interest payments and those ahead in future years?

The Scottish Futures Trust replaced Labour’s costly enough PFI schemes and has been building up commitments to fund scores of infrastructure projects, ranging from hospitals with faults before they open to colleges and roads and other projects.

State-owned Scottish Water has nearly £4 billion owing in debt, with annual interest payments alone of some £150 million.

Whether or not Scotland separates from the UK, it would help to know the scale of our present debt for our now enlarged Government, with its ever-increasing bureaucracy at Holyrood, has been kicking the debt can down the road without telling Scots taxpayers how much it already costs them, or will in the years ahead. Political parties in government know that after losing an election their opponents, on entering Government, have the job of sorting them out!

Jim Craigen, Edinburgh

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Yousaf fail

What on earth have we, the Scottish people, done to deserve such a wholly ineffective, inadequate and incompetent representative as Humza Yousaf?

His comments concerning the 999 emergency service where he said people should only dial 999 if it is “absolutely critical” were disgraceful and irresponsible. Any delay in calling the emergency services requesting an ambulance for a potential heart attack or stroke victim, for example, is potentially life threatening. His job is to manage an effective and well resourced emergency service but he is singularly failing to do so.

He has held Ministerial positions in Transport, Europe and External Affairs. He was Cabinet Secretary for Justice prior to his appointment as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care.

It is abundantly clear that, with these appointments, the First Minister is allowing ambition to overrule ability and he should be consigned to the backbenches at the earliest opportunity.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Crisis coming

About two years ago towards the beginning of what we were not yet allowed to call a pandemic, I wrote a short letter (unfortunately not published) pointing out the irony of the fact that we, the most sophisticated animals on the planet, were being held to ransom by one of the simplest organisms on earth. In retrospect, I think I was not far off the mark!

Two years on, now with the enormous benefit of man’s ingenuity in so rapidly producing a highly effective vaccine, we are entreated to accept that we have to get used to living with Covid. Sorry, we are not living with it. We are dying with it, but not of it; in huge numbers throughout the world where health services are reeling under the unintended consequences of dealing with the morbidity caused by the virus.

Here In Scotland, wave after wave of the disease is completely eroding the health service’s ability to deal with already unacceptable waiting lists, now growing exponentially to levels that any sane individual will recognise can neither be cleared nor sustained with current resources.

The dwindling cohorts of mentally and physically exhausted NHS staff face a perfect therapeutic storm over the coming months which can in no way be ameliorated by political polemic and or money.

As ever, we shall no doubt stagger through the winter crisis, but words and cash cannot replace numbers and expertise which are no longer there and I see no way, in the foreseeable future, that the system can, like its patients, possibly recover.

Politicians and managers cannot solve this crisis which will only result in ever increasing irremediable morbidity and consequent mortality, not just in the elderly and infirm, but across the piece.

Fortunately, I am old enough, and I hope wise enough, to predict that I am unlikely to live to witness the demise of a service in which I survived 35 years of constant, largely cosmetic and often futile change for change sake! Die it must and will in its present shoogly state.

(Dr) S R Wild, Edinburgh

Fit to decide?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recently recommended against Covid vaccines for 12-15 year-olds. The government sought a second opinion and subsequently went against JCVI advice. It is noteworthy that when JCVI earlier recommended that vaccines be given to 16-17 year-olds the government didn't seek a second opinion.

Government departments then announced that parental consent wouldn't be needed for 12-15 year-olds if the child were deemed to be competent to make the decision by themselves.

This is arguably unlawful when you consider the so-called Bell v Tavistock High Court case of 2020, which found that it was highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers, and that it was also doubtful that a child aged 14 or 15 could understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty blocking drugs.

Geoff Moore, Alness, Highland

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