J PATRICK Maclean's letter (July 16) on the Mull ferry situation was in my opinion, yet another example of a very sound argument that will be ignored by our present Government in Holyrood and CMAL. To me this is a very worrying example of the failures of this SNP administration.

In your Letters Pages, my own correspondence and those from better and more experienced contributors appear to be ignored. I know that you have published comments from CMAL executives, but these never seem to address the crisis that now exists. Even Nicola Sturgeon's statement that "they" are looking at sourcing another vessel for the Ullapool-Stornoway service is treated as encouraging, but she does not get reported as saying that instead of looking for a vessel, one has been found and that it will be in service from a particular date.

As Mr Maclean says, the Pentalina catamaran was available and its suitability was endorsed by a retired Calmac master and another vessel may still be available from the builder in Indonesia, but no one from the Government said that a decision had been made one way or another. The input from other agencies such as the RMT union also raises questions; is this organisation interested in servicing the communities or only its members with crew accommodation requirements, as has been reported elsewhere? There surely is a balance somewhere.

I remember that P&O ran a night-time service to Larne, from the "Irish berth" at Ardrossan until it was relocated to the new berth at Troon; this berth was created to accommodate the now-terminated catamaran service to Larne. From this it can be reckoned that the shore-based infrastructure is there to deal with Arran, Campbeltown and the southern Hebrides, ie Islay and Colonsay.

Therefore, with all of the written frustration, why is there the impression that our Government is not grasping the nettle and telling us what it is actually doing, rather that what it is looking into doing? The same applies to many other remits that are part of the devolved government responsibilities.

I was never a fan of Ruth Davidson, or Jackson Carlaw, but perhaps their constant advice to Nicola Sturgeon that she and her Government should "get on with the day job" was and still is the matter that should be front and centre. Maybe if the SNP administration shows that it is an efficient manager of devolution further powers might well come in time. At present there is further funding coming from Westminster via the Scotland Office. What if Alister Jack seizes the opportunity to resolve the ferry issue with Westminster backing? The need for Holyrood then comes into question.

Ian Gray, Croftamie.


A COLLEAGUE once announced that he had had a productive morning: "I’ve disbanded a committee," he said. No such thing in SNP Scotland. The Government’s motto appears to be, when in doubt, set up a committee. The latest is the new council of economic advisers to the Scottish Government, to replace Alex Salmond’s old council of economic advisers whose achievements are hard to discern ("Controversial Treasury boss aids Sturgeon on economy", The Herald, July 9). The new committee is to try, yet again, to solve the conundrum of Scotland’s poor record in economic growth and productivity. It has to be dressed up, of course, with a remit of "Wellbeing" also. I’m sure our wellness would increase if our growth and productivity increased.

Scotland has poor levels of growth. It does not have enough high-rate taxpayers to support its high public expenditure. Its Government has little interest in private enterprise and has a knee-jerk preference for state control of pretty much everything. What Scotland needs is an environment that encourages enterprise, initiative, innovation, within a competitive tax regime. The instincts of its current Government run counter to all of that.

And then there is the big problem for investors: political stability. It really is time that the SNP learned the lessons of Quebec. The 15-year neverendum between the separatist referendums of 1980 to 1995 destroyed Montreal, its capital, as a major financial centre, to the benefit of cities outside Quebec, particularly Toronto. Any solution to Scotland’s economic sluggishness needs to take that into account: it is time to abandon the idea of Scotland leaving the UK.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


JOHN Milne's heart is in the right place (Letters, July 16), but his head is still displaying the same symptoms which afflict many Scots, mainly those who still have fond memories of the good old days when the Labour Party was trusted and respected by our nation.

As support for independence has grown, many former Labour voters have defected to the SNP due to the stubborn unionist stance of Labour. Others have come to regard the independence movement as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the SNP and are reluctant to "come out" in support of it for that reason.

Mr Milne says that Scots have the option of independence "if only the SNP could get its act together...". I regard the independence issue as too important to be left entirely in the hands of the SNP. It is the Scottish nation that needs to get its act together. If supporters of all political parties and none, regardless of their affection for the SNP, were prepared to lend their voices to the independence cause the unionist myth that an independent Scotland would inevitably be governed by the SNP would be dispelled and Mr Milne's dream could be realised.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.


I AGREE with John Milne that the SNP needs to “explain its [independence] strategy, in particular how it intends to deal with the inevitable challenges such a constitutional upheaval would bring”. Mr Milne’s example of the work done during the Second World War to develop plans for the NHS and the Welfare State is a good one. There was after all a common retort at that time – so I was told – of “there’s a war on, you know!”.

However, I would suggest that Mr Milne goes by no means far enough. It is not just “constitutional upheaval” that is involved, but such as currency, stance toward the EU, defence and many, many issues forbye those.

Of course, the SNP faces at least two problems doing so. One is the incessant demand of the Opposition to “get back to the day job”, which often precedes complaints about lack of detail concerning independence. The complaint is, anyway, seriously disordered. Would anyone complain of the Greens working on plans on how to save the world from global warming? Perhaps the SNP might have obviated this complaint by setting up a dedicated policy development group within the party and distinct from government? Perhaps this is what Michael Russell has been appointed to? If so, great, but why the delay of five years?

The more difficult problem is that most of these policies would be no more than negotiating positions when the time comes to agree the detail of our independence with Westminster. The response to any policy ex ante would always be “oh no, we wouldn’t accept that under any circumstances”, or “this wouldn’t work”. Or at least, that is what experience of Better Together would suggest, strongly.

Doing this work would also allow, in principle at least, others to become involved. Remember the various groups that sprang up before the 2014 vote – for instance Academics for Yes, and many others. It is important to remember that independence (or not) does not belong to the SNP, but to the people of Scotland, and putting forward proposals would not only make these more robust, but act as the basis of a debate with the Scottish electorate on what an independent Scotland could be like. It will, after all, be their decision after the first post-independence election.

It is often advised not to show your hand too early, but if you need the support of others then can they be involved early enough?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

THE opening up of England and Scotland being reduced to level 0 with minimal restrictions this week is going to result in disaster in terms of even further increases in Covid-19 cases with a large increase in long Covid. Many experts have warned us about this including Professor Andrew Watterson of Stirling University in a recent article in your sister paper the National last week when he said: “Additional assessments this week have indicated that between 10% to 20 % of asymptomatic as well as mild and severe cases of Covid will result in long Covid. So when we look at the currently high numbers of positivity cases across Scotland, a significant number of cases of long Covid are emerging and will continue to do so.”
There are no dedicated clinics in Scotland to treat long Covid, showing that the Scottish Government is defective in its approach, virtually following in lock-step with Boris Johnson’s Tory Government in abandoning Covid suppression. Professor Watterson is right in stating that the Scottish Government measures now look risky. We need to get back to a zero-Covid-Scotland policy. That means a policy of lockdown until we get everyone vaccinated over the age of 12. Only then will we be able to get back to a new normality.

Sean Clerkin, Barrhead.