I NOTE with interest Struan Stevenson's article ("Seven key questions Forbes and Sturgeon must answer on Scotland’s economy", The Herald, August 26). I also note that he neglected to mention his position as a former Tory MEP and as a current adviser to the staunchly pro-unionist organisation Scottish Business UK; people deserve to know his political leanings.

Space prevents me from replying to all of the questions Mr Stevenson asked of the First Minister and the path to independence, but I will reply to just one – how do you manage a change of currency? – with a very simple answer. Estonia.

Estonia changed currency from the rouble to its own independent croon and then to the euro when it joined the EU. During those 30 years, it averaged an annual growth rate of nearly six per cent. Who knew that small nations having control of all the levers of state could bring about such positive outcomes?

But there are just as many questions that pro-independence supporters could ask of Mr Stevenson and his position.

As part of the UK, how does Scotland repair the black hole in her exports caused by Brexit? How does Scotland prevent the continuing power grab of powers by Westminster? When, if ever, will the Sewel convention be written into law? How does Scotland fix the damage done to supply chains by Brexit?

But a more fundamental question looms for Mr Stevenson and his ilk. Scotland's parliament is likely to pass an act legislating for a second Scottish independence referendum. At that point, the question will arise: Does Mr Stevenson believe we live in a parliamentary democracy? Or do we not?

David Patrick, Edinburgh.


STOP the Westminster bus, because Scotland can run her own transport infrastructure systems and has been doing so since the establishment of devolved government in Scotland in 1999.

Your article "Westminster may ask Scots councils for input on transport improvements" (The Herald, August 25) could only be read as interference from Westminster in devolved matters. Westminster and in particular David Duguid, Under-Secretary of State in the Scotland Office, must be fully aware that transport is devolved to Holyrood. But allow me, in case there is any doubt, to inform Mr Duguid that my MSP, Michael Matheson ,holds responsibility for transport in Scotland in his Cabinet Secretary’s brief of Net Zero, Energy and Transport.

Why is Westminster intent on imposing a review of Scotland’s transport needs, why is it holding out a cash offer if Scotland joins its review and why is it planning to railroad Holyrood and go direct to Scotland’s 32 local authorities?

I am sure there could be numerous answers to those questions. But regarding devolved matters at Holyrood, time and time again unionist correspondents call for the Scottish Government to get on with the day job and get their focus off independence. Transport comes under the business of the day job in Scotland and the Scottish Government must be allowed to get on with that aspect of the day job without a Westminster power grab.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.


THE SNP seems to always think it can fix any problem with money, including our NHS shortages ("NHS Recovery Plan dismissed as ‘flimsy pamphlet’ despite £1bn investment", The Herald, August 26).

Two questions spring to mind immediately. First, where is all this money coming from? The answer must be the unused Covid money from Westminster. Second question: Where do we find the highly qualified staff in a relatively short period of time? The answer to that is we can't. We are losing staff almost as quickly as we gain them and the overall trend, even before the pandemic, was a huge backlog of NHS job vacancies.

What Nicola Sturgeon announced is therefore a wish-list and it is one that will never be fulfilled given current high taxation levels in Scotland for key workers, and even higher levels in the future, particularly given Green influence. This was yet another soundbite announcement on the NHS from a Government that really is not in control of the situation.

Dr Gerald Edwards Glasgow.


WILLIAM Loneskie (Letters, August 26) is unable to address my point that the outcome of GERS is dependent on decisions taken at Westminster. The best he can muster is that if this is true “it has been most generous to Scotland”. That though, depends on GERS being an accurate reflection in the first place.

That is a very complex and contentious debate, so I will settle for quoting Richard Murphy’s view that “bluntly, and as ever, the data for 2021 within GERS looks to be wrong on both income (understated) and expenditure (heavily overstated)”.

Therefore, whether Scotland’s alleged deficit of “£36 billion” is real is based on contended data and does not justify the annual ex-cathedra pronouncements of unionists such as Mr Loneskie.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


I NOTE that Eddie Barnes, of the Our Scottish Future think tank, recommends a "cooperation agreement" between the sovereign UK Government in London and the devolved Scottish administration in Edinburgh, and that the initiative in this should be taken by London. Why? What is the point of this?

Everyone knows that the SNP has established itself as the opposition to the Government in London, and that the last thing the SNP wants is to establish a good working relationship with London and to ensure that devolution works well for Scots. If devolution worked well, what need would there be for Scotland leaving the Union? That is why the SNP does not want devolution to succeed.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


WE note the response of David Innes, convener of the General Teaching Council Scotland ("The key role of GTC Scotland", The Herald, August 19) to our article on promoting transformational social justice (“Does anyone know what social justice in schools means?”, The Herald, August 12).

The GTCS was formed after unregistered teacher concerns and contributed to professionalism. Nevertheless, be aware of what Professor Walter Humes calls "the false god of professionalism”.

We noted ostensibly democratic processes in forming values, but what is the reality? We affirm this and also the calls for diversity. Mr Innes confirms narrow lenses – the cosy consensus often hallmarking Scottish education. The council is mainly teachers, so where are multiple perspectives?

Some question whether GTCS effectively regulates with gaps acknowledged privately but which it appears policy-makers are prepared to take risks upon. Professional learning isn’t in legislative functions.

We agree most teachers act selflessly with values. Teachers inspired us. Teachers influence every person and profession. Education is one foundation of civil society. However, when teachers step out of line (like any profession, a minority breach professional codes), are they regulated effectively? It is not always the case. Perhaps re-allocating professional learning resource to robust regulation might safeguard Scotland's children and aims we jointly aspire to. Medical regulators don’t cheerleader doctors like a union, they regulate – protecting patients and enhancing professionalism.

Collectively we agree Scotland has many great teachers. It also has issues. Children deserve consistent high quality education. Hopefully Mr Innes will undertake progressing issues raised in the "constant refresh" he notes. Change management and "defensiveness" are challenges. Stifling critical thinking and learning is counter-productive. Professionalism can be maintained through honest, open dialogue and collegiate collaboration in practice. Collegiality comes from shared responsibility.

Neil McLennan, Director of Leadership Programmes University of Aberdeen, and Dr Robert White, Unesco Teacher Task Force Co-Ordinator on Inclusion and Equity and Durham University Teaching Fellow.


WHILE there are many people who may call Police Scotland’s 101 – the non-emergency service – for spurious reasons, the service is an essential helpline for the majority of callers. It is therefore extremely worrying to see that more than 40 per cent of all calls to the number were abandoned, with the average time it took to answer calls in June being five minutes.

Just as we have some who will call 101 because their pizza hasn’t been delivered, there will be many who don’t want to be a burden to the 999 service and may choose to call 101. It is utterly unacceptable that it should take five minutes to answer these calls and it is no surprise that so many people gave up ("Police chief admits the public is facing ‘unacceptable delays’ with 101 calls", The Herald, August 26).

The service is there for anyone reporting their car stolen, their property damaged, to report suspected drug dealing and to report minor traffic accidents. These are not minor issues and for elderly and vulnerable people not to get someone to answer their calls must be so frightening.

It’s all very well the Chief Constable, Iain Livingstone, apologising, but that doesn’t make up for the loss of faith in our police services. If they are receiving more calls and taking longer to deal with calls, then they need to employ more people.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.