I AM currently in the position of securing elderly care for my 93-year-old mother, and like Frances McKie (Letters, September 9), I welcome the intentions of the Scottish Government to improve the provision and delivery of such care in Scotland. To achieve this would be exactly what a devolved administration should be doing to lead the UK in public services.

However, I would also point out the difficulties involved, not least in unravelling the issues of ownership, management, employment status and regulation that are currently to be found in the current model of the "mixed economy of care". Nor is this just a matter of the devil in the detail – huge fundamental issues need to be addressed. Will all private care be nationalised? With or without compensation? What about the third sector? How will much-needed improvements in pay and conditions for staff be set and (crucially) paid for? How will local authority provision be assumed by Holyrood?

These issues are all fraught with difficulty and the pitfalls are easy to see: for example the transfer of services from local councils needs to be planned and resourced far better than in the local government reorganisation of 1996. Likewise, the co-operation of third sector and private providers will be needed to ensure a transfer of services which is orderly and safe for users.

In approaching these hurdles, we also need to look at several other current stories. For example, the failure of Holyrood to provide basic emergency services in the case of a road traffic accident shows that centralisation sometimes means worse not better services. And grand promises by the SNP – like that of setting up a low-cost, green alternative power provider – are admirable in themselves but are worthless unless they actually come to fruition.

Finally, the task of setting up a National Care Service is a massive undertaking. Nicola Sturgeon rightly describes it in terms comparable to founding the NHS itself. Can anybody seriously expect any government to undertake it at the same time as negotiating the terms and establishing the institutions required for independence? Especially as those responsible have no great record in office for setting up anything whatsoever? (By contrast, the people who set up the NHS had just helped win the Second World War.)

Most sensible people would conclude not, and would prefer that the noble and humane objective of a National Care Service should be pursued as a priority – and that independence should be dropped for the foreseeable future to make it possible.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

* PEOPLE are complaining about the rise in National Insurance to pay for social care.

If you earn £10k you'll pay £52 a year more. That's two John Player Special fags a week. Those earning £20k will pay £130 (two bottles of wine a month) extra and £30k earners £255 (five Subways a month)

Surely that's worth it to ensure your granny, aunt or elderly neighbour get better looked after? And cutting down might improve your health and save your children the future expense.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.


AMIDST the fury over increases in taxation via National Insurance contributions, dare I suggest that reductions in taxes might increase the tax revenues flowing into the Exchequer? The more money taken out of people's pockets, the less they have to spend; the more people have to spend, the higher are business profits, thereby increasing the corporation tax paid to the Exchequer. More profitable companies will employ more people, who will in turn pay more tax, thereby reducing unemployment and benefit payments.

All too simple? It was done in the 1980s, the trick being to determine at what point taxes should be cut. Obviously, 0% tax produces zero income. I would refer politicians to the Laffer Curve.

Arthur Laffer acknowledged that his idea owed something to the 14th century Muslim philosopher Ibn Khaldun, who wrote: " It should be known that at the beginning of the dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments".

David Miller, Milngavie.


THERE were two opinion polls published last week on independence.

The first for Sky News ahead of the SNP conference gave the pro-independence movement 51 per cent support. The other by Scotland in Union gave those wanting to stay in the UK 57%.

The polls have obviously been conducted at more or less the same time, they have been asking about the same central question, but the difference is 8%, enough to win or lose a vote for either side.

The difference, and the only difference, is the actual question, with Yes/No or Remain/Leave as the options.

The Electoral Commission said in 2016 before Brexit that Yes/No gave too much advantage to the Yes side, and Remain/Leave was more accurate and fairer. Here we see the perfect example of that in action. Any future referendum should not be conducted on the same basis as before.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy.


I AM happy to put Ruth Marr’s mind to rest with confirmation that we do get our own government (Letters, September 9). Each of the prime ministers referred to in Ms Marr's letter, from Edward Heath to Boris Johnson, were elected by votes cast throughout the UK in which a clear majority of the Scottish electorate (82.7% in 1979) declined to vote for the option of separation.

It was the Scottish vote in 1964 which brought a Labour prime minister to power in Westminster despite the Conservative Party’s clear majority of seats in England. Democracy cuts all ways. It was the SNP vote in the UK Parliament of 1979 which helped to bring down Jim Callaghan and usher Margaret Thatcher into office.

Michael Sheridan, Glasgow.

* NICOLA Sturgeon and the SNP claim their new alliance with the Green Party is a mandate for a second referendum. Correct me if I am mistaken, but her majority consists of a portion of MSPs voted by the second vote … ie, one person voting twice.

A referendum vote will be one person one vote. Perhaps a truer picture.

George Kerr, Newton Mearns.


THERE are very few if any similarities between the present Westminster parliament and the one at Holyrood. Certainly not in size or stature or importance. But one similarity does stick out like a sore thumb: there is a despairing lack of any credible, united and coherent opposition in both places.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


IT seems that the rules at Holyrood are applied differently, depending on who the person is who breaks them. Tess White, Conservative MSP, heckled Nicola Sturgeon, rightly pointing out the anglophobia that pervades SNP Scotland. The Presiding Officer, Alison Johnstone (Green) was shocked by this lèse majesté and insisted that Ms White stand up and make a full, sincere and formal apology to Ms Sturgeon. A couple of days later, Ms Sturgeon (SNP) heckled Murdo Fraser (Conservative). Silence. Nothing to see here.

I suppose this is the kind of thing we have to get used to in our new-model SNP Scotland.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


I NOTE John Gilliland's response (Letters, September 10) to my letter of September 9.

One advantage of independence would be that Holyrood would become totally accountable, no matter which party had the majority. Indeed, would we need a nationalist party after freeing ourselves from Westminster? If we had complete control of our own finances the SNP could not blame the rich and over-privileged English Tories any longer.

Another advantage would be our freedom from a second chamber of titled but non-elected overseers.

Boris Johnson & co admit that the NHS is suffering throughout the UK, hence its need for more financial input. Before Covid my family received excellent treatment, sometimes in emergencies. My only complaints were about parking difficulties both in Ayr and Kilmarnock/Crosshouse, so I consider any claim of deterioration of medical service to be unfair to both the NHS and the SNP.

By adding potholes to the SNP's faults Mr Gilliland is struggling for excuses to remain a unionist. Will Nicola Sturgeon get the blame for Ayr United's performances too?

JB Drummond, Kilmarnock.


SELF-CONFESSED unionist John Gilligan sees pot-holed roads wherever he looks. Two weeks ago Main Street, Houston was resurfaced. This week Main Street, Bridge of Weir will be resurfaced. Most major footpaths in this village are in good condition. Eighteen social housing flats were occupied recently here and others are being built in nearby Paisley and in Port Glasgow. All under the aegis of the Scottish Government.

Colin Campbell, Kilbarchan.