THE manifesto pledges from the SNP detailed by the First Minister ("Sturgeon pledges stability with freeze on income tax", The Herald, April 15) once again demonstrate economic illiteracy at the highest level. The shameless “spend, spend, spend” pledges do not bear any level-headed scrutiny, as so stated by the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies.

"Transformational” spending as she describes but then in almost the same breath, a freeze on income tax rates, simply do not equate, and when the deficit figures appear, this will be fantasy economics. Nicola Sturgeon was Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing from 2007–2012 and has been First Minster since 2014. Her “transformational” spending promise equates to just £178 million for each year she has been in power and of course begs the question why it has taken her 14 years to even consider this? Free dental care will only potentially benefit those that can actually afford it as those who are unable to do so at present get it free. Beware of those bearing gifts is a very apt warning at this time.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

* SO Nicola Sturgeon, if the SNP manifesto is to be believed, intends to increase NHS spending by additional billions of pounds plus giving us all a host of freebies over the next few years – while freezing income tax. Those who don't believe the First Minister walks on water could surely be forgiven for wondering how this miracle will be performed?

We learn from the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies that spending on public services in Scotland is 30 per cent higher than in England, largely as a consequence of the vagaries of Westminster's Barnett Formula.

If Westminster increases NHS and other spending, as it promises to do, then Scotland will consequentially benefit, again via the Barnett formula. However, the SNP intends to secure independence over the coming years. So no more Barnett cash from the UK, calling into question Ms Sturgeon's ability to provide much-needed additional post-pandemic NHS expenditure plus seemingly endless freebies. That is unless Scotland’s 2.5 million taxpayers' pockets are immeasurably deep.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.


DR Gerald Edwards (Letters, April 16) seems surprised that while anyone earning more than £50,00 a year contributes £1,500 more tax than if that person lived in England, “yet the maximum benefit for lower-paid workers is a mere £21 tax reduction”. Perhaps, rather than “SNP spin” this is a simple matter of arithmetic – not too many earning more than 50k and a lot earning a lot less?

Considering it this way might cause him to appreciate the issue that better-paid jobs tend to be located in the south, and always have been, at least during my adult life. He might then ponder how this might be changed. Westminster has had 300 years and shows little or no interest in changing this situation. In fact, it seems quite happy to continue with London and the south-east acting, as Tony Travers put it, as “the dark star of the economy, inexorably sucking in resources, people and energy. Nobody quite knows how to control it.”

The fact is that the UK economy is utterly dysfunctional because it is grossly imbalanced. Examine almost any index of economic growth or well-being and London and the south-east will not only be at the top, but often the only two regions at or above the UK average. They are not only ahead, but moving further away. Yet successive governments have made no effective attempts to much change this.

Thus, Dr Edwards’s point not only misses a simple arithmetical fact, but also the economic reality that underlies it.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


I QUOTE from Struan Stevenson's article ("The breakup of the UK will damage Scotland, Britain and the special relationship", The Herald, April 15) as follows: "All political parties that remain in power for too long suffer from the same inevitable fate. They become tired and drained of energy, floundering around in a hotbed of incompetence, sleaze and scandal, trying to cling on to power by passing bad legislation. Convinced after years in office of their sole right to rule, they display arrogance and contempt for the parliamentary process.

"Is all of this familiar? Look no further than the SNP government at Holyrood."

Whoa, just a minute. I thought that Mr Stevenson had had a revelation on the road to Damascus and was talking about the many years of Tory rule in the UK of which he was a part.

You could not make it up, starting off an article thus at a time when we are surrounded by the allegations of former Prime Minister David Cameron and his "old boy" connections lobbying for failed finance firm Greensill Capital.

If there was an instance of putting your foot in your mouth, that was it. Roll on the next General Election.

Allan Halliday, Paisley.


I FIND it hard to believe that there are not at least some supporters of the Conservative Party in Scotland who think that they are shooting themselves in the foot by using Ruth Davidson in election leaflets and a television advert ("On the campaign trail", The Herald, April 16). This is someone who thought so little of the Scottish Parliament that she decided not to seek re-election to it and to take up position instead in the unelected, overpaid, underworked and over-populated House of Lords. By so doing, not only did she present an open goal for Nicola Sturgeon to exploit in debates in Parliament, she also damaged her reputation.

So far as the House of Lords is concerned, when she says its "number of sitting days only averages about 100 and backbenchers aren’t expected to go to all of them", she only adds fuel to the arguments for its early abolition.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


WE received through our letterbox today the official election leaflet from the SNP.

I have to take off my hat to our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon; I genuinely did not realise that she had the courage to invite all of her electorate (I live in her constituency) to, at last, get rid of the SNP, the party that has been ruling us for the last 14 years. The double-sided beautifully-produced leaflet states on one side that "better days are ahead. It's time to prepare for the future". And on the reverse side she confirms this by stating that we should "Hope for a better tomorrow".

Thank you, First Minister; it has obviously taken a great deal of courage for you to appeal to us to vote for another party after 14 years, so that we can prepare for better days ahead, and hope for a tomorrow which can only be better than the last 14 years in Scotland under the rule of the SNP.

Gratefully yours for being so truthful about our future.

Walter Paul, Glasgow.

* POLITICIANS, who perhaps can be strange at the best of times, behave even more strangely in election campaigns judging by some of the mail arriving through my letterbox.

Take the leaflet banging on about independence and offering not a single word on future plans or policies. That came from the Scottish Conservatives. Or, at the other extreme, the leaflet offering "Hope for a better tomorrow" but with not a single mention of independence. That came from the SNP.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats merit a mention with two leaflets promising to address what they call the jobs crisis. Both were printed in London ... but perhaps it's the London jobs crisis the Scottish LibDems are worried about, rather than the jobs crisis closer to home.

And, in the interests of balance, I'd better add that one of the two Scottish Labour leaflets I've received was printed in Northamptonshire.

Stewart J Brown, Largs.


CLEARLY Sheila Duffy (Letters, April 15) has never heard of the Latin tag "De mortuis nil nisi bonum", speak nothing but good of the dead (as they are unable to justify themselves).

I too am of the age when we sang ribald songs about "The kilted Greek" in reference to the Fustanella dress, rather like a kilt, which Greek solders wore on special occasions.

I recall reading the newspaper accounts of the night action off Cape Matapan during which the action of a certain midshipman in controlling the ship's searchlights were so helpful that his captain was minded to mention it in his dispatches. I also recall his taking command of HMD Magpie in Malta and the standards he imposed.

I suggest that the foregoing might just indicate he served our country very well in war, indeed to the end of his long life. We should be grateful for his service.

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.


YOUR Those were the days feature describing the sinking of the Bismarck during the Second World War ("Bismarck survivors are landed in Greenock, 1941", The Herald, April 8) did not make clear that the Swordfish-type of aircraft used during the operation were specifically naval aircraft flown by Royal Naval aircrew.

Nearly 2,400 Swordfish were built between 1936 and 1944. Known as "Stringbags", the aircraft were carrier-borne, bi-plane, torpedo bombers, and almost all were configured for naval air operations. Powered by a single Bristol Pegasus IIIM3, nine-cylinder radial engine, the Swordfish was still desperately slow (a maximum speed of 90 knots) when you imagine the huge firepower of a German battleship’s anti-aircraft armament.

I was fortunate enough to be commanding officer of 819 Naval Air Squadron, formerly based at HMS Gannet, Prestwick in the late 1980s. The squadron’s crest depicted an Achilles heel emblem which resulted from another noteworthy Swordfish Second World War operation, the attack on the Italian fleet in Taranto Harbour, Italy, on November 11, 1940.

Chris Denny, Troon.


SUPERBE! Fantastique! Teddy Jamieson's tribute to a very enjoyable high-end soap ("How Call My Agent! saved this latest lockdown", The Herald April 16) was a treat to read. I too was late to the show, only catching it when the adverts for Series 4 drew me in. What really appealed to me was that it was not another American nor Scandi-Noir gruesome murder series, rather a series showing off Paris at its best and introducing us to a version of the world that underpins that of film, actors and celebrity.

I am not sure a British remake would work ... the show needs its French chic to carry it off. An intelligent and very enjoyable viewing experience which as an added bonus serves to improve my French language skills.

Santé, mes amis.

Eileen Michael, Ralston.

Read more: If we are such a basket case, why do they want to keep us?