IAIN Macwhirter is correct to point out the scandal of promised wind energy jobs going abroad ("Loss of BiFab is a national disgrace as promised green jobs go abroad", December 6).

A decade ago the Scottish Government published the document “Scotland's Offshore Wind Route Map” which estimated that there would be 28,377 Scottish direct jobs in offshore wind by 2020, but the latest ONS (Office for National Statistics) data shows just 1,900. In 2012 Alex Salmond, while trying to promote wind energy to Donald Trump, said “as we mobilise this industry, as we are established as world leaders, tens of thousands of jobs come to this country”. But ONS is showing just 4,200 direct Scottish jobs in wind both onshore and offshore.

Interestingly, ONS states that there are 2,800 direct Scottish jobs in nuclear energy, which the Scottish Government intends to shut down. In my view the vast majority of wind energy jobs are during construction, so in the longer term Scottish Government energy policy may result in fewer jobs, not more.

Geoff Moore, Alness.

IAIN Macwhirter’s excoriating article on the lamentable job the SNP Government has made of looking after Scottish industry shreds any pretence of an excuse.

Fiona Hyslop, our Economy Secretary, asserts that nationalising BiFab is not an option as her hands are tied by European Union rules. This is the same EU that her party wishes to rejoin post-Brexit, once we are “independent”. However, as Mr Macwhirter notes, in three weeks' time we shall have left the EU.

Which is it, Ms Hyslop? Are you unable to help BiFab because we are in the EU? Or unable to help as we are about to leave the EU? Or are you just unable?

Bob Scott, Drymen.


WHILE a great many of us, both Remainers and Leavers, would prefer to avoid a No Deal Brexit, I fear Nicola Sturgeon thinks differently.

While she was willing to take Scotland out of the EU in 2014 with no imminent prospect of joining, the SNP leader now uses proximity to the EU to try to justify her separatist ambitions. Presumably for her, the looser the UK's relationship with the EU the better since she'll claim only fully-blown independence can provide any kind of EU relationship.

Yet Ms Sturgeon, I believe, pedals a cynical distortion of reality. She glosses over that independence won't deliver EU membership for Scotland any time soon or indeed painlessly since, as her party's own Growth Commission report admits, it'll take a decade or more of austerity in the form of higher taxation and public services cuts, to meet even a few of the EU's stringent entry requirements.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.


RECENTLY a very expensive-looking leaflet with the heading "Taking Scotland forward" was delivered to us by the postman.

I searched for information on how the Five Top Priorities to Help Take Scotland Forward were to be funded, but there was no mention of this. Was this leaflet funded by the UK Government’s Unite Campaign?

But I had forgotten. It would be funded by Scotland’s share of the infamous red bus slogan used by the Leave Campaign and I quote: "We send the EU £350 million per week. Let’s fund our NHS instead, Vote Leave." The Prime Minister later said this was an underestimate.

Of course the elephant in the room is Brexit – why does the Conservative and Unionist Party ignore this and keep harping on about another referendum on independence being the last thing Scotland needs right now?

Bill Robertson, Bishopton.


I WAS amazed at the hypocrisy in show in Martin Redfern's letter (December 6), where he accuses the SNP of buying votes.

I well remember Margaret Thatcher buying votes in the 1980s by selling off social housing. The consequences of that Sale of the Century were that most of the council housing was sold off, leaving countless thousands of individuals and families living and begging on the streets, where you can still find them.

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and people in a compassionate society shouldn't vote Conservative.

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.


RON McKay ("Why we can ill afford the luxury of stupidity", December 6) notes that one in five may refuse the Covid-19 vaccination.

Earlier this year when some people objected to masks and restrictions there were two main arguments against them. One was to present the evidence in favour of these measures and the second was a strong moral argument: "Your non-compliance will endanger other more vulnerable people, so we are justified in enforcing this approach to protect those people."

Now that we have a vaccine the second, moral argument falls because vulnerable individuals are at liberty to take the vaccine and protect themselves. So if someone objects to taking the vaccine the state can try to persuade them using facts and evidence but it is not justified in using pressure or coercion. If it is indeed stupidity to refuse the vaccine, the main people to suffer will be the stupid.

Allan Mackenzie, Cumbernauld.


NEIL Mackay's article about a possible upsurge in trade union membership ("Have millennials really turned their backs on trade unions?", December 6) was music to my ears.

I would love to see a return to the days when a worker could rely upon the union to fight the case of a worker who felt there was evidence enough to explore a grievance.

Workers used to find confidence in the solidarity of union backing in pursuit of better and healthier working conditions and rises to cope with the whittling away of wages through inflation. Sadly the unions lost an opportunity to modernise sensibly when Barbara Castle presented them with her strategy for reform in her White Paper In Place Of Strife.

Feeling that they were in a position to flex their muscles owing to their close associations with Downing Street under the Labour government of the time, they refused to countenance or entertain her solution and left the door open for the Tory government to set in motion the acts which were aimed at curtailing the influence of the unions. This mentality still pervades the Tories' outlook.

It took the working classes a long time to overcome the patriarchy and patronage of the bosses and to find a place which commanded respect in the operation of industry and services.

That benefit was hard-won but was jeopardised by union intransigence towards the party which had been friendly and had, to its and the unions' cost, somewhat overindulged the unions, for which a sharper reckoning was being planned by the Tory party which had not forgiven the unions for their humiliation of Edward Heath during his premiership.

Had the unions accepted what was on offer from Mrs Castle, they would have found that they had equal representation, comparable to what happens on the industrial and business front in Germany today but instead they found themselves in a fight where they became emasculated through parliamentary legislation after the public had been fed exaggerated stories about the irresponsibility of the unions said to be interested in their own aggrandisement rather than the community at large. That is the current state of affairs and it will be one which will bite deeper if the current administration survives its term in office to win another term.

Unless Sir Keir Starmer can resurrect the standing of the Labour Party as an electable force, then Mr Mackay's idea that there could be a dramatic resurgence in union membership will be nothing more than a pipe dream.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


THE catastrophe of mortal sickness which has turned state spending inside out may also be an opportunity to repair the future.

In 1997 an incoming government at Westminster cynically ended free university education, making students into debtors for coming decades.

A few months later the first ever First Minister of Scotland said the decision was harmless because the public had stopped thinking about it.

Now universities are going bust because their foreign students aren’t allowed in. University could and should be free to any UK citizen who passes competitive entrance examinations, with scholarships available to the highest-attaining foreign applicants. A system of grants for living expense should be restored in addition.

Everything costs money, but what’s that stuff the state is flinging around just now? I like military spending not just for its purpose. It also proves the money is there for priorities. And higher education, is that no priority at all?

Tim Cox, Bern, Switzerland