AS Nicola Sturgeon continues her deflection policy of keeping the spotlight trained on Westminster and its woes, our public services in Scotland seem to be going from bad to worse.

The great experiment of creating our national police service and providing efficient and cost-saving policing to the public now seems to have been a pipe dream. The warning from the Scottish Government that an already invisible Police Scotland is to be subjected to further budget cuts will result in an unacceptable level of policing which can only benefit the criminal and not the law-abiding public. Likewise the insufficient forensic testing facilities available to test drug drivers' samples are letting law-breakers off the hook.

Our justice system is a joke yet the fact that Ms Sturgeon can find £3.7 million to sustain an army of spin doctors seems to indicate where her priorities lie.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.


ALEXANDER McKay (Letters, October 23) berates the Scottish Government because its “forecasts and plans” fail to take into account “the reaction of the others involved”.

First of all, those reactions are unknown, at least in their specific content. Secondly, Mr McKay may have forgotten, but in 2014 David Cameron steadfastly refused to discuss the possible outcome of any future negotiation on Scottish independence.

However, let’s consider Mr McKay’s typically unconstructive forecasts, including the roads on which there will be a hard border. Sweden (EU member), Norway (part of EEA but no customs union) have many roads crossing their lengthy border, many in out-of-the-way mountainous regions, yet only a few have border checks. Why is this possible there, but not here?

He considers free movement in the UK would be at best under threat, if not ended, yet there is free movement between Ireland (EU member) and the UK (no longer an EU member). Why possible with Ireland but not Scotland?

But more importantly, a clear opening position is necessary to negotiate seriously. The lack of this was a major weakness for the UK in its Brexit negotiations, as Michel Barnier points out endlessly in his “Secret Brexit Diary”.

Mr McKay goes on to point out that “the rest of the UK is a very much larger entity”, as is the EU. The EU is often described as a “rules-based organisation”. Does Mr McKay believe that it will abandon this in the case of Scotland? If so, why? Even if good neighbourliness is beyond the UK, will it obey at least international law and its commitments? Or does Mr McKay expect the UK will simply throw its weight about to achieve whatever its ends are? Does he consider this a “good thing”? But more importantly how many of the Scottish electorate would want to remain in a state that would do this? How much better than Russia would it be, if it did?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


RISHI Sunak's Cabinet consists of some old, some new, some borrowed and all different shades of blue. And yet there is nothing in the group to excite the electorate, many of the same old faces leaving us underwhelmed by his predictable choices drawn from the shallow pool of talent which currently characterises the complement on the Government back benches.

Mr Sunak is hoping to claw back the credibility without which the Conservatives are destined to swap places with those who see themselves as the government in waiting. Labour stands for the big state and empowering the substantial group which used to be quaintly considered the working classes. Its attempt to capitalise upon its virtually insurmountable lead in the opinion polls will be characterised as a big spending venture which can lead only to further national impoverishment. That argument will be countered by Downing Street pushing the Tory emphasis upon the small state where low taxation and deregulation rule the roost.

Mervyn King put it very well when he mentioned the mythology behind the narrative foisted upon the national psyche after years of brainwashing from the right wing by pointing out that we cannot have Scandinavian levels of public services with American levels of taxation.

We will hear ad nauseam how the Tory Government will put more money into the pockets of workers via the reduction of taxes to allow people to spend their money as they wish, whereas Labour will say that preservation of proper public services will be of more benefit to those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.

Many will be waiting for the Sunak Government to implode as the pressure builds on the occupant of No 10, his inexperience leaving him vulnerable to the unremitting onslaught from the other side of the dispatch box.

Politics being a rough trade, there is some doubt about whether Mr Sunak is enough of a pachyderm to fend off direct attacks upon his lifestyle and Thatcherite policies whereas Sir Keir Starmer has shown that he can stomach the slings and arrows of outrageous hostility.

The next two years should be absorbing, if this PM can last that long.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

• MEMO to Rishi Sunak: The BBC is 100 years old. So is the 1922 Committee. Is it not time that all copies of the 2019 Tory manifesto were recycled as loo roll? There are shortages in parts of Scotland at the moment, and we haven't had a good independence referendum since before my grandson was born.

UK democracy? You're the 57th UK PM, we're told. The 55th and 56th weren't up to much. Do you want to be the last?

Norrie Forrest, Kincardine.


DURING his leadership campaign, Rishi Sunak talked up flat-pack housing as a way of bringing down the cost and vastly increasing the quantity of social housing, citing their use in the 1950s, when almost 200,000 were built across the UK. We lived in a brick council house but several of my cousins live in prefabs in Linlithgow, Broxburn and Wales. They were great.

These days are gone. Instead, a recent Channel 4 programme, Britain's Evicted Kids, told the story of a mum who is training to be a midwife, a dad who works in a hospital and their three happy kids who were "no-blame evicted" because their landlord had to sell up and despite them being up to date with their £600 a month rent. They spent the next few months moving from hotel to hotel, miles from their daughter's school.

All parties need to get behind true, low-cost, well-designed social housing with good communications and neighbourhood facilities, as opposed to "affordable" housing whereby a developer cuts a deal with an unelected quango with exorbitantly-paid senior management (the CEO of Places for People earned £519k last year) to build slightly cheaper, often isolated, accommodation.

And that's if you're lucky. Here in Stonehaven 133 houses are being built at Ury Estate costing between £500k and £700k. You could build around 500 good family homes that that money.

Aberdonian Michael Gove has been appointed Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. He has a record of shaking things up and I hope he takes his cue from the boss and gets thousands of good, low-cost houses built.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.


THERE is a problem with the Netflix series The Crown blurring fact and fiction, namely that many of those featured are alive, and most of us recall the story.

It is quite incredible that the King is portrayed as devious and uncaring and plotting with the then Prime Minister, Sir John Major, behind his mother's back, to try to force her to abdicate. Sir John has rubbished these claims as "a barrel load of malicious nonsense". He should know. Jonathan Dimbleby has described it as "nonsense on stilts ". Actress Dame Judi Dench damned it as "sensationalism, adding that the series is "cruelly unjust to the individuals". Netflix has now, grudgingly, added a disclaimer to the trailer saying it is fictional dramatisation inspired by real events. The Queen's former Press Secretary, Dickie Arbiter, has described as "distasteful rubbish" nonsense about Prince Philip's affair with Countess Mountbatten. Ingrid Seward, author of royal biographies, has called this "exceedingly bad taste" . Alan Titchmarsh has complained "the show is playing with people's lives".

Meanwhile, in the United States, the media report that Netflix may postpone or even boot into the long grass the Harry and Meghan fly on the wall documentary. This may be because Netflix is wary of being seen to have a vendetta against the British royal family or because some of his comments in his memoir, allegedly, contradict what he has said in the documentary (quelle surprise). It is all the more remarkable that Harry has been mute in criticising The Crown, given painful episodes in Princess Diana's life are being exaggerated and his determination to protect the memory of his mother. He has had no such hesitation suing newspapers in the past. Of course, Netflix is his paymaster and that, evidently, trumps any sensitivities.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing, Fife.


ENERGY Secretary Michael Matheson has said that hydrogen and independence would deliver a strong and more resilient supply of energy with lower costs. If hydrogen will provide lower costs and resilience, can we now start phasing out the 99 wind farms in Scotland with more than 7,000 turbines, especially since they are highly subsidised with constraint payments which so far have cost UK electricity users £1 billion?

Why are they paid to produce electricity and paid not to produce electricity? Who wants electricity when they are sleeping and businesses are closed?

Wind turbines are unreliable, creating greenhouse gases in their manufacture, transport and installation. The blades cannot be recycled but end up in landfill where toxic substances can be released. When turbines are at end of life there are no guarantees that the mostly foreign owners will reinstate the site and access roads. The quicker that hydrogen is rolled out the better it will be for birds and other wildlife and those forced to live alongside these money making machines.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.