I FIND it interesting to note that Iain Gunn (Letters, April 18) has “faith” in Nicola Sturgeon to restore Scotland’s NHS. How can he have “faith” in Ms Sturgeon when she has the most abysmal record of leading Scotland over the past seven years?

Has he conveniently forgotten about her record on drug deaths, the highest in Europe; alcohol deaths, the worst in the UK, and on education on which she asked to be judged? On vanity projects costing the taxpayer billions including Prestwick, BiFab, Ferguson Marine – where she paid the last CEO £2,500 per day – Police Scotland, which has a financial black hole of £200 million and was established to save money, the failed Scottish Energy Company, the failed Scottish Stock Exchange and millions spent on setting up foreign “embassies”? Has he forgotten about the disgrace of the closed Edinburgh hospital, the Named Person Scheme, the Hate Crime Bill, the Child Sex Survey and on and on and on?

Ms Sturgeon promised to be a leader for all Scots but has used her power to agitate to destroy the UK. She has manipulated her followers to blame her shortcomings on anyone and anything, especially Westminster. Based on her track record, it is naive for anyone to have belief that Ms Sturgeon can restore any of the institutions she has systematically ruined.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar.


THE desperation of Scottish Tory politicians was clearly manifest through recent days in their scurrilous attempts to denigrate the First Minister over a momentary lapse in mask-wearing (Police talk to Sturgeon after receiving complaint over face mask breach", The Herald, April 19). Subsequent attempts by their acolytes to draw equivalence between the antics of a dishonest Prime Minister who has corruptly presided over a culture of arrogance and sleaze with a First Minister, whom most would assess as honestly endeavouring to work diligently on behalf of her electorate, only serve to inform the public that there is no level to which Tory politicians will not stoop.

None of this is surprising to those who observed the deception and lies of the Better Together and Pro-Brexit campaigns, but it is still disappointing that so many in our mainstream media appear ready to repeat politically motivated slurs as well as to present them out of context. Not only the BBC and political reporters and commentators in whose objectivity some of us have gradually lost faith, but even editors of shortened ITV news bulletins immediately found time to willingly serve Tory political ambitions of distraction from Partygate and denigration of their primary political opponent in Scotland, the First Minister.

How many times throughout the pandemic has the Prime Minister been pictured without wearing a face mask in settings such as NHS hospitals yet there was little or no comment on that fact in the media, let alone thoughts of complaints to the police, who have plenty to keep them busy without responding to frivolous politically motivated complaints?

Those genuinely seeking evidence of political hypocrisy need look no further than desperate Conservative and Unionist politicians and Tory Government-compliant media channels.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

* I MUST point out from the start that I am critical of many decisions taken by our politicians but regarding the First Minister’s slight forgetfulness to wear a face covering when entering a barbershop having been campaigning outside, the reaction (mostly political) I’d say is way over the top.

Had she been any other member of the public, she would have been afforded the police action around the four "E’s" (Engage, Explain, Encourage and lastly Enforcement), should a complaint have been made at the time.

It would have been remarkable if the FM got to the first E having quickly addressed the issue.

To try to compare this lapse to the actions of Boris Johnson is quite frankly laughable.

David Gray, Bearsden.


NATIONAL Clinical Director Jason Leitch claims that the First Minister’s actions in the recent furore over her discarding her mask while campaigning in a barber shop was "exactly what we want people to do".

Several people have commented over the period of the pandemic on the closeness and lack of any visible divide between the First Minister and her health advisors and consider the relationship to have been so heavily politicised that it has lost all purpose except for making the present administration and its ministers look good, no matter the circumstances.

I think Professor Leitch’s remarks merely strengthen that opinion.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


JILL Stephenson (Letters, April 19) laments a decline in public services and, like Brian Wilson, in his piece on the same day (“Send a message about council cuts straight to Nicola Sturgeon”, The Herald, April 19), seeks to lay all the responsibility on the SNP Government.

As Convener of Edinburgh City Council’s finance and resources committee from 2012 to 2020, allow me to provide some context and perspective. We can all agree that the bulk of Scottish public funding is provided through the Scottish block grant from the UK Government and that this is applied through the Barnett formula. In other words, the Scottish block grant is directly affected by the level of public spending in England.

Austerity, which can be defined as a constraint on UK public spending so that it falls as a proportion of GDP, has been causing lasting damage to education, the NHS and local government as well as police funding. Neither has social care funding been resolved, as the Prime Minister promised in December 2019 that it would be. Only now has the UK Government pledged to restore education spending per capita to 2010 levels, which it trumpets as an achievement. Austerity has, in fact, been a policy of ideological choice that has no good basis in evidence and has done wide economic damage.

It is not, as Mr Wilson would have it, just deflection to say that these constraints directly bear on the Scottish Government’s budget and unavoidably, given their magnitude, feed through to local government budgets.

The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has described the cuts to central government funding of local authorities in England as “historically unprecedented”. Four English local authorities are effectively bankrupt and many others are in financial distress. Tory-run Northamptonshire Council has sold off its new headquarters building to fund its services. Others have speculated in the commercial property market for the same reason.

To imply, even by omission, that these reductions in funding have not affected the Scottish block grant is wholly unreasonable and politically self-serving. The Scottish Government has to fund a wide range of services, not local government alone. It is uncontroversial to point out, for example, that NHS costs rise faster than inflation and that an ageing population raises demand for health services and social care.

I understand why political points are made close to an election, but it does democracy and the electorate a disservice to paint only part of the picture and then draw essentially partisan conclusions.

Councillor Alasdair Rankin (SNP), City of Edinburgh Council.


LIKE all the other normal rules, it seems that the pre-election purdah rules don’t apply to the current Tory UK Government. The Local Government Association defines this as "could a reasonable person conclude that you were spending public money to influence the outcome of the election?"

Other than trying to deflect from Boris Johnson’s failures on the big issues like the cost of living crisis, Covid (where the UK has twice the number of deaths than Germany) and the continuing disaster that is Brexit, how else could one explain the recent publicity stunts on sending refugees to Rwanda and some half-price off-peak rail fares in England?

In addition, the UK Government Scotland Facebook page saw £25,000 to £33,000 spent on advertising between February and March, which is significantly higher than the spend in the preceding six months, in an effort to influence voters before May’s council elections by promoting the Levelling Up messaging.

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove led a Brexit campaign that promised £1.5 billion a year for Scottish devolved services when the UK left the EU. Instead, all that was announced for Scotland is £172 million. For every £1 the UK Government promised, it has given Scotland 11p.

Labour too has been totally dishonest with its council campaign messaging by making promises that councils, or the Scottish Government, can never deliver while opposing the devolution of such powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

Read more: SNP should pay the price for the damage done to our councils