THOSE of us who lived through the 1960s and 70s are well aware of the issues around inflation and pay policy. In both these decades we had variations of statutory and voluntary incomes policies primarily driven by the pressure to reduce the high inflation rates and the related strike action but there was also around these initiatives some focus and debate about implications for social justice.

There were national negotiations among government, trade unions and employers. It was accepted that the law of the jungle didn't have to be the only route with those in the strongest bargaining positions gaining some financial protection while others were left behind.

There were national pay freezes, fixed percentage increases and, interestingly, for a period a fixed cash amount rather than percentage increases for certain workers. The impact on inflation was questionable. The impact on social justice may have been positive at some stages but the cumulative effect by the late seventies had become unfair to public sector workers whose incomes were kept static while in parts of the private sector there had been significant increases and the Winter of Discontent was the outcome. But this does not mean that the attempt to establish national standards of fairness in earnings is not a legitimate issue for governments.

Of course, the Scottish Government has limited economic powers and trade unions and the private sector have greatly changed, But it is surely quite unacceptable for a government to take the position that what is happening to earnings, much of it in the public sector, is nothing to do with it ("Councils issue cuts warning after Sturgeon snubs talks", The Herald, June 11).

Of course the Scottish Government has limited economic powers but it is unfortunate that there was no attempt to develop a coherent position before the ScotRail negotiations with the emphasis on protecting the lower-paid. The development of some kind of incomes strategy in Scotland will not affect inflation but it can affect social justice. Sectional interests within business and within the unions may stand in the way, but there is a duty to try.

The priority must be to protect the lowest-paid and one way to do this is by giving fixed cash sum increases, not percentages. This will mess with pay differentials but in current circumstances this is surely a price worth paying. This is not sustainable over a long period but over one or two years, it is.

Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.


LAST week Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said Scotland's public sector must become more efficient and "consider the scope for innovation that embraces entrepreneurship, improves value for money, offers opportunities for commercialisation, better manages assets, and brings benefit to the public".

At the start of the big SNP adventure Alex Salmond, faced with nine departments, 27 agencies, 32 councils and 152 quangos, said: "If you are going to have joined-up government you need less bits to join up".

I thought he was serious and gave the SNP one of my votes in 2011 in the hope that it would wake up and transform Scotland. Silly me and the other few hundred thousand who would never have believed the mess we'd get into, or the woke, fairness, social justice, inclusion, equality and net zero prism that infests and neuters all Government reports and policies.

I genuinely think Ms Forbes is doing the right thing and I think it is fair that the job of clearing up the mess and selling the benefits of it should be one for the SNP and Greens, by which time I hope the opposition can unite with the desire, ability and policies to complete the job and guide us out of this blackspot in our history.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.


MICHAEL Sheridan (Letters, June 13) expounds the notion of tactical voting for unionists, but I am afraid he is being delusional. How could any left-wing voter possibly consider voting for Boris Johnson and his extreme right-wing party, even if the motive were to stop the SNP in its tracks?

Surely morals come into voting intentions, and there are few of those left in the Conservative Party either in Scotland or the UK at large.

Mr Sheridan and his fellow unionists just can’t accept the fact that the SNP has won elections in Scotland and in General Elections since 2007, on a manifesto commitment of independence, so for him to suggest Scotland and the SNP should move away from the constitutional bubble is suggesting breaking a manifesto commitment – something the Conservatives are very experienced at doing, but on which the SNP will take no lessons from the Conservatives.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

* I’M still unsure if Michael Sheridan’s tongue was in his cheek as he proposed the utopian voting solution (Letters, June 13).

He has of course ignored the fly in the ointment – the lumpenproletariat with their Pavlovian reflex to append a cross every time they see the symbol of the SNP.

Sadly that obviates the need for any statistical reviews.

Andy Trombala, Stirling.

* DAVID Patrick (Letters, June 13) says “the people" have voted for a second referendum because the SNP plus the Greens MSPs elected to Holyrood want that. He says parliamentary democracy has spoken. Can’t argue with that.

I say “the people" have not voted for a second referendum because the majority of the people voting in the same election voted for the parties opposed to a second referendum. I say the people have spoken. Can’t argue with that.

We can’t both be right, can we?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


YOU report that expenditure by the Scottish Government on locum and agency staff in Scotland's NHS has doubled since 2014 ("Spending on locum doctors and bank nurses doubles to £423m", The Herald, June 13). This is a scandal that has been caused by a lack of proper personnel planning and training dating back to the late mid-2000s.

If I were Nicola Sturgeon, as First Minister I would be inclined to identify whoever was the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing from 2007 to 2012, and to lay the blame at their door in no uncertain terms.

Oh wait a minute...

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


AS expected, the UK Government intends to introduce legislation violating the Northern Ireland Protocol, an international treaty Boris Johnson signed in December 2020. It says it will publish legal advice to justify breaking international law. I wonder if the legal advice will reference the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Article 27 says: “A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.”

This isn’t the first time the UK Government has violated international law – in September 2020 Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted that the Internal Market Bill broke international law. And Mr Johnson has broken UK law on several occasions, including the illegal proroguing of Parliament and holding a string of Downing Street parties while the rest of the country was locked down.

This Government has turned the UK into an international pariah and an economic basket case through its own actions. Leaving the EU has, as widely predicted, wreaked economic havoc, diminished the UK internationally and is hastening the break-up of the Union.

Scotland must seize this opportunity to restore its independence and ground it on a written constitution, a democratic voting system and an adherence to and respect for the rule of law.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.


IS the Scottish Government introducing a twin-track system of jurisprudence, with some laws that must be obeyed and others that are optional?

There is a legal requirement to install interlinked fire alarm systems in all homes that the Scottish Government says will not be enforced. We have 20mph speed limits that the police say they will not enforce. Now we have low emission zones that apparently will not be enforced until 2023. In these days of colour printers, could they maybe use red ink for laws that are mandatory and green ink for those that can safely be ignored?

Scott Simpson, Glasgow.


A NUMBER of Conservative MPs have voiced criticism of Prince Charles for having made allegedly "political" comments about the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. I rather believe that the future Head of the Church of England was giving a moral opinion on the callous, cruel and inhumane treatment of poor people fleeing their homeland in search of peace and security, and was perfectly entitled to expose the perpetrators of this scheme for what they are.

In my opinion that is a bunch of dehumanised sycophants who treat the vulnerable as criminals, while rallying to the defence of a corrupt regime and worthless leader.

T J Dowds, Cumbernauld.

Read more: How to stop indy in its tracks