IAN Graham’s unabashed disdain for the current Scottish Government is clear for all to see but I am not entirely clear what his otherwise roaming epistle adds to the debate (Letters, December 5). One might otherwise make the reasonable assumption (as Mr Graham is apt to do in relation to the rationale for road closures) that the appointment of a National Chef forms part of a laudable strategy to promote the internationally recognised Scottish food and drink sector. In light of the enormous act of economic and cultural self-harm that Brexit is about to inflict on Scotland against its democratic will, this strategy should be encouraged – not least given the sector’s significance to the economy (and certainly more so than unhelpful stereotypes about the apocryphal deep-fried Mars bar).

Might we also please be spared the patently ludicrous notion that the replacement Forth crossing is “entirely unnecessary capital expenditure”? This is a nationally significant infrastructure project and for it to have been delivered so successfully within considerable technical and financial constraints is something which many people take great pride in. This is no less true, though we may reflect that Scotland’s industry could have played a much larger role in both its manufacturing and engineering capacities had these not been so fundamentally undermined long before the Scottish Government even existed and for which culpability lies at another door.

So far as funding is concerned, if Mr Graham is looking for the real reasons for the “attenuation of public finances in Scotland” concerning infrastructure projects he would be well advised to familiarise himself with the economic legacy betrothed by the exorbitantly expensive PFI schemes pursued most notably by the Labour Party in Scotland. The opportunity cost of these schemes – which will continue to pressure public finances for decades to come – is enormous. Who knows, perhaps they might even have already delivered those irksome roadworks from Loch Earn to Glasgow.

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Iain Miller,

16 Lombard Road, Battersea, London.

MY Labour MSP wrote recently that she would be supporting in principle the SNP policy to force retailers to charge the poorest in our country £140 million a year extra for their favourite alcoholic tipple (but with a complicated and probably unworkable claw-back from retailers).

Intuitively price increases should lower consumption but the evidence is not that substantial especially for those with dependency problems. It seems madness to take money from our poorest responsible drinkers and give to the rich supermarkets.

However accepting the Scottish Parliament is convinced of the evidential case and minded to plough on regardless with the six-year experiment, a couple of thoughts. Few in Scotland's Government seem to accept the tax maximisation theories of Arthur Laffer and his curve, but should we introduce them also to Mr Occam – the simplest solution is usually best.

If the focus is on units of alcohol consumed it seems that consumers should be presented with that information in its simplest and clearest form - a requirement for a clear statement on each package of alcohol as to how many units it contains.

Since the Chancellor is also minded to a similar policy, simply co-ordinate a national policy that has the same pricing effect but where the additional money accrues to the common good – a minimum level of duty to be paid based on alcohol content (all else remains the same).

There only remains the small problem of the politicians on the Scottish Left being mature enough to agree a common policy with Conservatives.

Given the Chancellor's positive response to requests from his Scottish MPs to refund VAT for Scotland's emergency services, it is entirely probable a similar approach on alcohol duty could be agreed.

James Robb,

Redclyffe Gardens, Helensburgh.