I WOULD suggest that it is not, as Dr Gerald Edwards (Letters, December 12) contends, the Scottish Government that is scraping the bottom of the barrel, but Dr Edwards himself, when he claims that "under the SNP Scotland is going backwards".

Since coming to power, SNP policies have resulted in the highest level of education investment across the UK, with 1,000 schools built or upgraded, with more teachers than at any time since 2008, while the number of Higher passes is at a record high since devolution began, and Scottish students are not charged university tuition fees. The game-changing new Scottish Child Payment has been introduced and now doubled, and Scots are not charged over the counter for their prescriptions, currently £9.35 per item in England.

I would suggest that far from "going backwards" Scotland is moving forwards. However, we could have moved even faster if we'd had an oil fund for the past 50 years, similar to that of independent Norway's. Dr Edwards calls "It's Scotland's Oil" an inappropriate slogan; it wasn't the slogan that was inappropriate, it was the fact that Scotland had no control over the oil wealth in our waters which gushed straight into the UK Treasury. Scotland's past has been in Westminster's hands; Scotland's future needs to be in Scotland's hands, for good.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


ASTONISHMENT barely describes how I felt upon reading that a multi-million pound fund has been set up which will enable Scottish fishermen to buy boats ("New fund allows young Scots to splash out on boats for ‘dangerous but rewarding’ career", December 12).

Barely a generation ago a multi-million pound fund was set up which would pay fishermen to destroy boats. Perfectly sound boats were broken up and sold as scrap.

A few pages further on in the same edition you carry a report on incursions into marine protected areas (MPAs) by what is described as “rogue fishermen” (" Fury at failure to protect Scottish waters from ‘rogue’ fishermen", December 12). It is suggested that reported incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. It is also suggested that a lack of prosecutions and inadequate penalties are proving no deterrent to this activity.

This report follows in the wake of many others in The Herald on Sunday recently which have focused on the damage done to the seabed by indiscriminate and destructive bottom-trawling both outside & within MPAs.

It seems to me that there is more than a little irony in these two conflicting reports.

When will this madness end?

David Clark, Tarbolton.


CLARK Cross (Letters, December 12) is free to be sceptical about migrants, but he may have the wrong target with those entering the water at the Pas de Calais.

There is a simple answer to his question of why they don't get on the train or ferry. Immigration control officials at ferry ports and on the train would have a duty to arrest them, and for some reason that doesn’t lead to the same official assessment as they get by landing on the beach. Many carriers won’t even embark people who don’t have a documented right to land.

UK administrative policy is clearly up the spout and is helping to place migrants in danger of death.

These central Asians on the beach are not chancers or liars. They are Kurds and Afghans fleeing from murderers.

The other part of his argument is harder to answer because the facts are not in the open. But if the involvement of France is confined to hindering foreshore embarcation, it doesn’t appear as if the migrants are offered France as an option. There’s just as much milk and honey there and, better still, European citizenship on the horizon for settlers. What happened in other transit countries I cannot know.

Interviews with migrants have thrown up something scary though. They’ve experienced not just merciful support from French volunteers, but also hostility from French racists. And they think no racism awaits them in Britain.

I’m of the Angel Merkel mindset that as many unfortunates as possible should be helped and that wanting a new country is not a crime. Nevertheless I have my own red lines, and l understand as well as anyone that the economically promising regions of the UK are very crowded and pricey places already.

On the other hand there are UK firms suffering from staff shortages because Europeans can't enter unconditionally either.

Mr Cross can choose his own opinions, but I would wish to help him be accurate and honest just as much as I would wish to avoid deluding myself in any way.

Tim Cox, Bern, Switzerland.

* I HAVE no real wish to intrude in the "spat" between readers Clark Cross and John Milne about “pretend asylum seekers” but Mr Cross’s response of December 12 puzzles me. He suggests that asylum seekers wishing to come to the UK should apply for asylum in the first EU country they enter and once this is granted “...they would be free to travel to the UK or elsewhere”.

We know Mr Cross reads newspapers, so it is surprising that he doesn’t appear to know about Brexit and that Freedom of Movement no longer exists between the EU and the UK.

Douglas Morton, Lanark.


A WEE moment of comparison for readers in Scotland during this troubled festive season. For readers' information, Pfizer estimates it is going to make £1,000 per second profit during the next year thanks to the production of Covid-related treatment.

People might not be surprised or shocked by such a figure; bigger sums can be quoted for other pharmaceutical giant companies.

However, multiply that by 60 to get the profits per minute (£60,000) then another 60 for hourly (£3,600,000) another 24 (£86,400,000) daily and finally 365 (£31,536,000,000) for the annual figure. Thirty one and a half billion (£31.5bn) just in profit.

So what. you may still be tempted to say? Our Government spent £50bn in 2020 for UK arms. However the Scottish budget for our NHS in 2019/20 was only £13.4bn.

Norman Lockhart, Innerleithen.


I NOTE with interest the article by David Pratt ("Is the Ukraine crisis Europe’s next war in the making?", December 12). After the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Ukrainians have had three decades in which to transform their country into a modern European state, but Ukraine remains a corrupt, impoverished nation like the Hispanic nations in Latin America. Three decades is sufficient time to modernise a nation, as the Japanese have demonstrated by transforming their country from an agricultural, feudal society into an approximate European state during the 26 years from 1868 to 1894.

If we westerners are to continue providing economic, humanitarian, or military aid, then we must impose a solution on the Ukrainians so that they will not further squander this aid. Specifically, we compel them to split Ukraine into two countries: Western Ukraine and Eastern Ukraine. The former country shall receive the bulk of western aid, and the latter country shall receive only humanitarian aid.

Most residents in Eastern Ukraine are sympathetic to Russia and its culture. We westerners should abandon them to Russian revanchism.

Most residents in Western Ukraine are sympathetic to Europe and its culture. They should continue to receive western aid if they achieve milestones on a strict schedule for making Western Ukraine eligible for membership in the European Union after 26 more years. If the residents in Western Ukraine fall behind schedule, then we westerners should also abandon them to Russian revanchism.

Dwight Sunada, Stanford, California, USA.


IN her recent Budget Finance Secretary Kate Forbes was generous with other people's money. She pledged £2 billion to tackle climate change despite Scotland being responsible for only 0.13 per cent of global emissions. She said that her Government (pushed by the Greens) "is absolutely committed to meeting our statutory climate change targets" but only five countries have legally-binding climate change acts; the other 192 countries only made promises which can be and are being broken just weeks after COP26.

Japan is building 22 new coal power stations. China burns coal to satisfy its energy needs. The gas and oil-rich countries have no intention of decarbonising. If Scotland spends £2bn this tax year will China spend £400bn every year to ensure its 30 per cent reaches net zero sometime in the dim and distant future? What will other countries spend? Meanwhile in Scotland there is real poverty, fuel poverty and homelessness, soaring energy bills, businesses failing and growing unemployment.

Ms Forbes is fiddling whilst Scotland burns.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

* A LETTER from DB Watson last week (December 12) was erroneously headed "Renewables caused National Grid a double heart attack". The letter was referring to the Scottish grid; National Grid is a private company and did not suffer the problems referred to. We apologise for this error, which was introduced at the production stage.


I ENJOYED Ron McKay’s memories of his involvement in the production of his top 40 single “War” and of other banned songs ("Why the Beeb banned my top 40 single ‘War’", December 12). However, to maintain your reputation as a newspaper of record it’s worth noting that Ricky Valance, the first Welsh male singer to get to No 1, did not die with Buddy Holly in a plane crash on “the day the music died”; this distinction belonged to Ritchie Valens.

Stewart Campbell, Helensburgh.