IT is dispiriting to see the Scottish Government back-track on its proposals for a national energy company ("Ministers urged to reverse ‘embarrassing downgrade’ to energy firm pledge", The Herald, September 9).

I see the SNP membership at their conference voted in favour of a national energy company but I fear Nicola Sturgeon and her Cabinet will pay lip service to this vote and kick this particular can down the road along with so many others.

I am dismayed and utterly frustrated at the SNP’s attitude in this regard.

Has it learned nothing from the last 50 years of history? We have complained ad nauseam that “our” oil was stolen by successive governments, from Harold Wilson (aided and abetted by then Secretary of State Willie Ross) through to Margaret Thatcher and beyond. Yet this SNP Government is about to leave development of what could be our most precious resource to big business and deprive the Scottish people of its bounty.

The argument for independence in 2014 was based largely on oil revenues. The price plummeted almost immediately after the referendum and many who voted “No” felt we had dodged a bullet. Perhaps we had.

However, if the SNP (and Green) Government would open its eyes, it would see the potential of a green hydrogen revolution that could transform the Scottish economy. Yet, by acting like fearties and backing off from the bold plan for a national energy company, it will once again pour billions into the pockets of energy moguls (who actively tried to undermine the independence cause in 2014) rather than into a wealth fund for the Scottish people. An opportunity to eradicate the inequality gap that has only widened over the years will be lost forever.

I would contend that, instead of insisting on a set date for Indyref 2, the clamour should be for a date for taking the energy industry (for starters) under the control of the Scottish people. Once that is set, then we can build an incontrovertible case for independence based on a renewable energy resource which we could produce in abundance and which, according to respected forecasters, will be in great demand in the new global green economy. Then we can have our referendum.

If this Scottish Government is too timid to produce bold, radical plans to enrich the Scottish people economically and socially, then I suggest it’s time for those on the left who are independence-minded to form an alternative party to lead the independence cause with what would be irresistible arguments as to why Scotland should be an independent nation.

The SNP must not, yet again, underestimate the ability of voters to embrace plans for a bold and imaginative future for Scotland.

William Thomson, Denny.


AT the 2017 SNP conference to a great fanfare and much applause, Nicola Sturgeon announced that a publicly owned, not-for-profit power company would be set up by 2021 to provide Scottish customers with energy at as close to cost prices as possible.

Roll on four years and this whole project was quietly abandoned when the new Plan for Government was announced. This was after Ms Sturgeon admitted in Holyrood that she had not done enough when questioned by Lorna Slater on why the company had not been set up. What she really meant was that she had got the adulation and applause she desired but that the SNP had realised that it was a pie in the sky idea that was not achievable and far too complex.

It must have been particularly uncomfortable for Ms Sturgeon to then watch the SNP party members vote for the setting up of a state-run energy company, a motion which was overwhelmingly supported. My question, however, is how long will it take for the SNP party members to realise that their esteemed leader makes many promises she doesn’t keep? As Abraham Lincoln said, “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time". I think it is time for SNP members to stop being taken for fools.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.


THERE are a couple things that people should know about National Insurance since the UK Government has decided that everyone who is liable for it will be paying more from next year ("Haughey and Hunter call for National Insurance reforms", The Herald, September 13).

First, there is no insurance element in the sense of a fund. National Insurance payments provide 14 per cent of government revenues but the items they are supposed to fund – social welfare, pensions and the NHS – take 53% of total spending. There is no UK state pension pot, and none of those National Insurance payments you’ve been making all your life have been saved or invested. It’s all been spent. If you are a pensioner, you may be concerned to learn that the UK Government at this moment has no money put by for you – next year’s pension payments await future taxation.

Secondly, National Insurance is a tax on income but of a sort that probably exists nowhere else in the world – the more you earn the less you pay. After the first £50,000 of earnings, the tax rate drops from 13.25% to 3.25%. To illustrate this in practice, someone on £25,000 per year pays £2,000 or 8% of their total wages, someone on £500,000 pays £20,000 or 4% of their income, while someone on £1,000,000 pays £36,000 or 3.6%. Is this fair? Is this “levelling up”?

The UK Government claims that the rate of income tax is one of the lowest in Europe. Well, it would be, of course, if you hide 40% of that tax by claiming it's "National Insurance". Essentially the standard rate of income tax after the NI rise is 33.25%, not 20% (19% in Scotland). And let’s not forget that the Scottish Parliament cannot tackle the injustice of a tax that proportionately hits harder the less well off, because National Insurance is completely reserved to Westminster.

Dr David White, Galashiels.


GUY Stenhouse ("Proposals would mean fewer tourists in rural areas", The Herald, September 13) identifies the problem of the shortage of rural homes. Sadly, in his usual Nat-bashing mode, he chooses to blame the Scottish Government’s approach to legislation of letting properties rather than the presence of these properties in the first place. In any scenic rural community, the reason that locals cannot afford properties is the elevated prices paid by second-home owners and buy-to-let holiday properties.

Certainly, building new homes for rent would be part of the solution, but finding ways to make existing properties available to local families would be a simpler and quicker solution.

Sam Craig, Glasgow.


I NOTE the letter (September 10) from David J Crawford regarding Britain's involvement in the Falkland Islands.

The Falkland Islands are proud to be a member of the UK family. In March 2013, 99.8% of islanders, on a turnout of 92%, voted in favour of remaining a UK Overseas Territory. This remains the settled view of islanders.

Falkland Islanders continue to be profoundly grateful for the strong support of the UK Government in acknowledging our right to self-determination and choice to remain a UK Overseas Territory, particularly the UK’s military intervention to restore our freedom in 1982 and continued presence in the islands today.

In 2022, we will mark the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands. As well as commemorating the sacrifices of 1982, it will also be an opportunity to look to the future. We are calling the year “Looking Forward at Forty” – making it a time to reflect on the achievements that have been made with our hard-won freedom, and to look forward to the next 40 years. There will be much to commemorate and celebrate, not least the significant contribution made by the people of Scotland to the development of the Falkland Islands and the strong ties that exist between our two countries.

Today, the Falkland Islands is a forward-looking community of more than 3,200 people, with a growing and increasingly diverse population. Locally elected politicians are responsible for all matters other than defence and foreign affairs, and the Falkland Islands Government funds all its own activities without any recourse to the UK taxpayer.

Our modern relationship with the UK is one based on partnership; from providing a base for the UK’s Armed Forces in the strategically significant South Atlantic and opportunities for UK companies to participate in major capital projects in the islands, to playing a key role in helping the UK tackle climate change, or being home to a significant proportion of the UK’s biodiversity. The Falkland Islands’ relationship with the UK is increasingly one of mutual benefit and something we can all be proud of.

Richard Hyslop, Falkland Islands Government Representative to the United Kingdom and Europe.

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