GOVERNMENTS all over the world have to make decisions on what they want to prioritise. That could be investing in the economy, providing welfare benefits, their health system and so on. The last 15 years have seen the SNP prioritise giving universal benefits – for example baby boxes, "free" prescriptions and the like.

It has invested in businesses that have not provided the outcomes promised – ferries for one, but also the 130,000 green jobs that were going to come by 2020. They were only 110,000 jobs short. And then there’s the money wasted on legal expenses for incompetence and the Scottish Government's obsession with independence, a total of £5.8 million over the last five years.

With trade unions demanding higher pay rises than the two per cent on offer, the Scottish Government is expecting Westminster to fund it ("Swinney issues warning over funding cuts without more cash for pay deals", The Herald, August 1). Why should it? We already receive more per head than the rest of GB to help with the costs coming from being a more rural region of the UK. Why should Westminster bail out the Scottish Government when it decides to spend its money unwisely?

It’s like the friend who buys everyone a drink in the pub to be popular but expects someone else to pay for their taxi home. Borrowing from Norman Tebbit, I don’t blame the UK Government for saying to the SNP: “Get on your bike.”

Jane Lax, Aberlour.

• SURELY John Swinney is having a laugh asking the Chancellor for more money to pay wage increases? Westminster has been throwing money at Scotland since the pandemic was at its worst and to blame anyone except the SNP Government for the situation we’re in is sheer brass-necked hypocrisy. Scotland’s finances have been mismanaged to a point of no return by the reckless spending of various finance secretaries, all under the watch of Nicola Sturgeon, and now we are suffering for their incompetence.

And still they try to convince us that we would be better as an independent country. If their selfish, uncosted, crazy plans ever do achieve independence get your savings under the mattress before they get their mitts on it.

Ian Balloch, Grangemouth.


TORY and Labour politicians are either extremely dim and/or complicit in the corporate profiteering that is driving inflation and the cost of living emergency.

The Tory leadership contenders are arguing that workers aren’t entitled to wage increases to match price increases because this will fuel inflation, which is absurd. Do they not understand where the price increases are going? They are adding to the grotesquely-swollen profit margins of corporations like Big Oil, Big Tech, Big Pharma and Big Agribusiness, all of which have announced record profits.

Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer would like you to believe that these corporations are investing their spoils back into their businesses. They’re not. They are buying back shares, paying these profits to shareholders, increasing inequality and further impoverishing workers.

Workers can’t be driving inflation. The real problem is that like in the US, our politicians are beholden to these same corporations for donations and for keeping them in power. That’s why we are not seeing a rise in corporate tax rates, a wealth tax or support for the majority of workers who are being pushed over the edge. Sir Keir’s sacking of Sam Tarry for standing with striking RMT workers on the picket line says all you need to know about Labour.

The SNP leadership needs to recall its MPs from Westminster and get on with liberating us from this farcical Union.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.


DOUGLAS Cowe's romanticised view of the United Kingdom (Letters, July 30), began with a thinly-veiled attack on trade unions: "... unions are agitating on behalf of members. It feels the very fabric of the UK is in jeopardy." His letter ended with: "Let's get behind the new prime minister and re-energise the United Kingdom, it is the greatest country in the world".

No it's not. Here are a few of the UK's recent achievements: Boris Johnson, Brexit, austerity, child poverty, illegal wars, Rwanda for refugees, Trident, crushing trade unions, destruction of communities (Margaret Thatcher), selling off the NHS, increased racist abuse and attacks, threats to independent broadcasting...

None of these makes me in any way proud or even content to be associated with the UK, notwithstanding its history of colonisation, slavery, murder and theft.

Kevin Orr, Bishopbriggs.


PETER A Russell (Letters, August 1) attributes a letter of mine to a personal “contention”: but as I made clear, the quotation is from Professor Ciaran Martin, an authoritative and unimpeachable source on constitutional issues relating to Scottish independence referenda.

Of course the Union can be maintained by force of law, but my concern is for what follows on from the repeated refusals of a Section 30 order by politicians from England (May, Johnson, Truss, Starmer, Davey), over the electoral mandate of a government in Scotland. I have to wonder how Mr Russell thinks his UK Government “mandate” stacks up in realpolitik? I very much doubt it infers any Scottish respect or submission, as Westminster’s unionist parties, with jingoistic fervour, transition into insularity abroad (Brexit), and imperialism at home (muscular unionism).

For William Durward’s information, I am not a member of the SNP. My only party affiliation was with Labour, thankfully lapsed as they morphed into the “Red Tories”.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


I HAVE just received a letter from NHS Lothian confirming an outpatient appointment with Insource Medicare, a private healthcare provider. This will (one assumes) cost the NHS more than using its own staff. Multiply this by the number of appointments/firms used and it will seriously eat into the NHS budget, using up precious NHS funds. I’m told that future correspondence regarding my treatment will also come from Insource Medicare. I won’t be liable for any costs yet, but this is a stark example of the gradual privatisation of the Scottish Health Service.

It’s also a reminder that while we remain in a Union dominated by England with no voice and no ultimate control over how we are governed, the corporate takeover and dismantling of what remains of our publicly owned services – healthcare and water are especially targeted – will continue, even under a future Labour government.

The devolution settlement is fragile because power devolved to Scotland is power retained by Westminster. And now that we’ve been forced out of the EU, Westminster is busy pushing through the EU Withdrawal Bill, where Section 38 asserts UK parliamentary sovereignty, a concept that doesn’t apply to Scotland, as our constitutional foundation in the Claim of Right confirms that power rests with the people. To make matters worse, a new Act of Union is in the Westminster pipeline and will eviscerate any remaining control Scotland has over its own affairs.

The lights are blinking red. Is the SNP leadership even taking notice?

Margaret McGowan, Edinburgh.


WHAT a depressing front page headline: "Fears over ban on fossil fuels in homes: Warning move could drive up the cost of new houses" (The Herald, July 30).

This is a truly positive proposal aimed at reducing domestic heating costs and carbon emissions, yet your emphasis is on the naysayers and the erroneous impact on house prices.

The truth is that tighter building regulations are long overdue, having been diluted and delayed by a powerful house building industry which places profits above anything else. (Need I mention Grenfell Tower?)

It is not the construction cost that determines the cost of housing. If it were, house prices would be uniform throughout most of the UK. The price paid for land has by far the biggest impact, largely based on location (and rarely consequent on the cost of publicly funded infrastructure). Local supply and availability of finance also influence prices substantially.

Currently, in this country, overall supply is short while the Government and banks are enabling easier lending. So house prices will continue to rise, irrespective of additional building costs, until the next crash, which our boom-bust economic cycle makes inevitable within the next few years.

If MSP Liam Kerr is interested in either the environment or making housing more affordable, I recommend he supports the Scottish Government proposal and extol its virtues to his new UK boss ASAP. He and they should also ponder why land values are so high. Meanwhile, you could help by taking a more positive view of such important issues.

David Bruce, Troon.

Read more: How are we supposed to know what Labour stands for?