WHAT on earth have we, the Scottish people, done to deserve such a wholly ineffective, inadequate and incompetent representative as Humza Yousaf?

His comments concerning the 999 emergency service where he said people should only dial 999 if it is “absolutely critical” were disgraceful and irresponsible ("Pensioner dies after waiting 40 hours for ambulance", The Herald, September 16). Any delay in calling the emergency services requesting an ambulance for a potential heart attack or stroke victim, for example, is potentially life-threatening.

His job is to manage an effective and well-resourced emergency service but he is singularly failing to do so. He has held ministerial positions in Transport, Europe and External Affairs. He was Cabinet Secretary for Justice prior to his appointment as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care. It is abundantly clear that, with these appointments, the First Minister is allowing ambition to overrule ability and he should be consigned to the back benches at the earliest opportunity.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

* NICOLA Sturgeon repeatedly refuses to call the chronic problems with the Scottish Ambulance Service a crisis, but has now agreed to call in the Army now that waiting times for ambulances have become life-threatening.

Unions have been warning the SNP for years now that the ambulance service in Scotland was underfunded and under considerable threat of breakdown.

The people of Scotland are now paying a very high price for having an administration that has consistently underfunded essential services to the final point of crisis.

Dennis Forbes Grattan, Aberdeen.


THE nonsense espoused by Jill Stephenson in her lengthy diatribe (Letters, July 16) compels me to “lift my pen” once again. Signs of desperation emanate not from the First Minister after 14 years of her party being in power and on the back of another hugely successful result in the Holyrood election, but from increasingly shrill unionists, who are incensed that their parties’ offerings are rejected by the Scottish electorate at Holyrood and Westminster – how desperately they wish they had the SNP's seats. Envious people tend to feel hostile, resentful, angry and irritable, which can lead to irrationality.

Ms Stephenson leads off with the Scottish NHS utilising the resources of US company IHI, erroneously likening it to a trade deal Westminster-style. We are then advised we are £2,000 per person better off under the Barnett formula and received £14 billion from Westminster during Covid. In typical unionist style, there is no mention of anything Scotland contributes to the UK by way of taxes from its people or income from its natural resources.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph in 2018, Andy Critchlow, then head of energy at EMEA, said “after Brexit, North Sea oil should still give Britain the cash-generating power to defend its economy…”. When we add in fishing, green energy, water, our strategic location in the North Atlantic and many others – what a big bag of goodies Scotland has to offer. It is time to get real, the UK simply cannot afford to let Scotland go, which is why they will do and say anything to stop Scotland leaving the Union. It is pure scaremongering and completely meaningless to say that it has taken Denmark 600 years to reach its current state. It has taken Estonia 20 years and they started with literally nothing.

Selectivity is never good for argument, yet Ms Stephenson says Scotland has hostility to the other citizens of the UK and completely omits the comments by Nicola Sturgeon in her conference speech saying the exact opposite. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. This is why a referendum or other approach to independence will not be “on her [Ms Sturgeon’s] own authority” but on the authority of the Scottish people.

Alan M Morris, Blanefield.


JILL Stephenson points out “that every health board in Scotland has signed a contract with the US private health company, IHI”. I am sure though that she realises that signing a contract with a private company for very specific services is quite different from signing the NHS over to them to run, which is possible under a UK trade agreement with, for instance, the US.

Particularly absurd, however, is the notion that the UK Government and Civil Service “spends most of its waking hours engaged in a conspiracy to do Scotland down”, especially as it merely distracts from the point that the UK has a systemically unbalanced economy. Examine almost any measure of economic well-being, and you will almost always find Scotland performing at around number four or five among the 13 UK regions. You will also find, though, that the leading two regions will be London and the South-east, and not just that they invariably outperform every other region but do so to such an extent that they will often be the only regions whose performance is better than UK average.

The reality of what the First Minister did say – and it wasn’t “they are out to get us” – is that how the UK works is contrary to Scotland’s interests. And she is not alone. Professor Mark Blyth has argued much the same point, that independence is necessary to avoid the debt-financed and monopolised UK economy, which outside of the EU will result in a “decline in investment and productivity that forces down real wages”. Prof Blyth’s argument is that independence will be hard, but both necessary and worth it in due course.

In conclusion, Ms Stephenson claims that “the UK would save money if Scotland left it”. Leaving to one side the questionable truth of that claim, is all the ambition that Ms Stephenson has is for Scotland to be "kept" at the whim of her much larger neighbour? Are we not better than that? Lastly, why does the rest of the UK see fit to do so, particularly if it’s not worth their while? And if it is worth their while, why are we not being told?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


I LAUGHED when I read the extract from the Home Office report that you published on Wednesday, in connection with the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body's decision to criminalise protests in the environs of the Scottish Parliament building ("Holyrood defiant over protest plans", The Herald, September 15). As someone who used to compose briefing notes, I can recognise padding when I see it; and that quote from the Home Office document is simply that (most likely lifted verbatim from the SPCB report to the Home Office).

Padding is frequently deployed when one has little specific to say on the subject that one is briefing about, but framed in language that suggests a vague element of risk unless a particular course of action is followed to mitigate a perceived threat. The threat from international terrorism and plans to counter it are well documented. However, I am afraid that SPCB and the Home Office will have to provide the public with a great deal more detail on the perceived "growing" and "increasing" threat to security at Holyrood from protestors and crank correspondents, to convince us that the granting of such powers is a proportionate response. From what’s been provided thus far, it looks like a ham-fisted attempt to stifle protest activity.

Stuart Brennan, Glasgow.


I READ with interest the letter from Allan Sutherland (September 13) regarding the increase in National Insurance.

He seeks to smooth over the increase by equating it to John Player Special fags, two bottles of wine or five Subways depending on your income. His comparison will cause great offence and stick in the craw of many people who will find these three products to be completely out of their reach as they struggle to pay bills, put food on the table and clothe children – before the increase. There’s almost an inverted snobbery here and perhaps these products fit Mr Sutherland’s stereotype of a lower wage earner in Scotland. Many will find this demeaning and offensive.

We have become inured to seeing the Prime Minister and senior Tories regularly breaching the ministerial code and breaking the law but Mr Sutherland must realise that a manifesto pledge is just that – a promise or a written contract between voter and government. No exceptions. That and the recently broken triple lock pension guarantee were two of the main planks on which the Tories were elected (in England).

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.


IS it not amazing that, with wind turbines only delivering around five per cent of electricity demand since July, the UK Grid operator has had to reach an agreement with the owners of English coal-fired power stations to ensure the fossil fuel units keep the lights on in Glasgow during the COP26 conference. Once more English gas and coal units come to the rescue of the Scottish wind turbine industry.

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas.

Read more: Increasing hostility shows Sturgeon's growing desperation