ONCE again we have been witness to both Boris Johnston and his Scottish liege-man Jackson Carlaw criticising the Scottish Government’s performance and demanding that the SNP concentrate on “getting on with the day job” instead of pursuing the cause of independence.

Of course there are well-publicised problems to be found in the performance of Scotland’s public services but recent reports would suggest that there is more than a hint of hypocrisy from our Tory leaders when consideration is given to the serious difficulties being experienced south of the Border.

Here is just a small sample of press reports from the last few weeks illustrating what is really a national crisis caused by a Tory Government’s ideologically driven incompetence.

1, The deaths of mothers and new-born babies in East Kent and Shrewsbury & Telford hospitals.

2, The mistaken release of the serial rapist Joseph McCann attributable to a Probation Service that is “irredeemably flawed” and “a service in crisis” according to a report by the Chief Inspector of Probation. There are currently 650 vacancies for probation staff. According to the Institute for Government there has been a dramatic deterioration in standards across prisons since 2009/10. The sharp rise in deaths, violence, self-harm, poor behaviour and drug use – as well as a drop-off in efforts to rehabilitate prisoners – can all be linked to the cuts in Government spending on prisons and a fall in the number of prison officers between 2009/10 and 2018/19. Whereas one in 100 prison officers resigned in 2010, the figure for 2019 is a shocking one in 16.

3, Since 2010, there has been a drop of 21,732 police officers in England. It was reported last week that only one in 14 crimes recorded in England leads to a suspect being charged.

4, The planned construction of HS2 is billions of pounds over budget and years behind schedule because of the failure across government to understand the risks involved, according to a damning independent report. In the first official indication that spending on the controversial rail project could escalate beyond £100 billion, the National Audit Office has raised the possibility of a further increase by admitting that it is “impossible to estimate with certainty” how much it will eventually cost.

5, The London Crossrail project was due to open in December 2018 but has been beset by delays and rising costs. The National Audit Office has blamed the debacle on management and government failure. It means the final bill for Crossrail could reach £17.6bn, instead of the £14.8bn it was expected to cost as recently as June.

Of course, we have seen failures and disappointments here in Scotland’s public services but nothing on the scale of what is currently happening in England. The worry of course is just how confident can we be that a Government with such a record can successfully negotiate a trade deal with the EU?

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh EH10.

THERE is surely a contradiction between Tom Gordon’s demolition of Nicola Sturgeon and his conclusion (“Sturgeon’s next steps must be to take action – or retreat”, The Herald, January 25). For example, he writes that: on indyref2 her “game’s a bogie”, she engages in “over-promising and under-delivering in government”, but she is a “formidable politician” whose opponents “respect and envy her ability”.

If that is true about the latter, it explains why Ms Sturgeon who, if Mr Gordon is right, is not in the first rank of strategists or tacticians, has got away with it for so long.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh EH9.

TOM Gordon poses the dilemma: Nicola Sturgeon must now decide... take action or retreat with dignity

It is too late for these options. Taking meaningful action is more or less out of her hands and retreating cannot be done with dignity as she has nailed her colours too firmly to the mast to remove them now.

Ms Sturgeon simply miscalculated the lack of support Jeremy Corbyn would receive and the landslide victory for Boris Johnson at the General Election. In politics, getting these decisions wrong is a rather bad mistake to make. She has nowhere to go and the serious “day” problems are piling up for her on a frighteningly regular basis. Her only hope was groundswell support burgeoning for indyref2. This has simply not happened. Her viable options are rapidly disappearing.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow G77.

JILL Stephenson’s assertion (Letters, January 24) that the wellbeing of people in Scotland “has been adversely affected by the constant noise made by Scottish separatists about the constitution” is an absurd and ridiculous attempt at political point-scoring and demeans the important debate required around the provision of mental health services.

I work in the mental health and disability field supporting some of the most marginalised and excluded members of our community and I constantly hear about the impact of Westminster’s austerity agenda on mental health and wellbeing – particularly the DWP’s benefits assessment programme.

I have yet to encounter anyone blames their poor mental health on the demand for constitutional change.

Scott Rorison, Dumbarton.

Read more: We may yet be forced into an unofficial referendum