I NOTE your report in which Health Secretary Humza Yousaf admits that “Scotland’s NHS is not performing at the level we would like” ("NHS needs ‘five years to fix’ amid beds and staffing crisis", The Herald, October 31).

I wonder if he and the First Minister, who was Health Secretary at the time, are aware that in 2010 the UK Government’s national security strategy stated that “the risk of human pandemic disease remains one of the highest we face”? And then in 2015 the then national security adviser categorised a pandemic as a “tier one” risk.

An article in the Prospect Magazine in April 2022 suggested that “it’s not as simple to argue this was a failure of government; it was also a failure of imagination”.

Although these were concerns expressed at UK level, why were they not picked up by Scotland’s SNP Government? Insufficient imagination? Conservative austerity? A failure to recognise the need for resilience in the NHS? Too busy planning for independence?

Given the shameful ferry debacle and the failure to pick up the warning signals regarding the pandemic I am not one of the 66% who trust the SNP Government to work in Scotland’s interests ("Blame game being won by Scottish Government", The Herald, October 31).

The country can afford neither more Conservative austerity nor more nationalism.
John Milne, Uddingston

NHS is doing better here

DR Gerald Edwards and Ian Balloch (Letters, November 1) ignore the fact that many of the factors influencing the UK-wide NHS crisis are outwith the control of the Scottish Government, not least UK inflation costs due to flawed energy policies and Brexit that resulted in EU staff leaving and has exacerbated ongoing recruitment problems. Also, many GPs and consultants have taken early retirement due to the way UK taxation regulations impacted on the highest earners in the NHS pension scheme.

Inflation and staffing issues have severely impacted on care homes which is the main cause of bed blocking and A&E waiting times, which are worse in England and Wales. Scotland has invested in nurse training by keeping the nursing bursary, funding additional places and maintaining free tuition, which has resulted in nursing student numbers increasing by 8% in Scotland while falling by 3% in England.

NHS Scotland regularly outperforms England and Wales, due to the fact that we have many more GPs, hospital beds, nurses and midwives per 100,000 population. In Labour-run Wales the NHS has been described as being like a third world country, but the Labour First Minister robustly identifies the resource limitations of the devolution settlement and has called out the culpability of Tory governments in Westminster for the present state of the NHS in Wales.

The constraints of devolution mean that while the Scottish Government’s budget is decimated by UK inflation it doesn’t have the power to alter its annual budget once introduced. Meanwhile, I note that Scotland’s North Sea has raised an additional £8 billion for the London Treasury in the first nine months of this year.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

• POLITICIANS like to give the impression that they run the country. However, as the name suggests, they provide the policies which are then actioned by civil servants, national and local government employees. One would hope that they would seek the advice of these professionals when formulating their policies. It seems that Liz Truss and her Chancellor failed to do so and chaos ensued.

On the other hand politicians often get blamed for situations which they have little control over. The NHS throughout the UK is underfunded and understaffed. Underfunding can only be addressed by increasing overall taxation and understaffing is in part due to the Brexit "dividend". Your usual cohort of letter writers (November 1) imply that in Scotland this is entirely the fault of the Health Secretary and the SNP Government and that a change of health secretary and/or government would provide a magic solution.
Alexander Johnston, Inchinnan

Tired of my vote being ignored

YOUR correspondents GR Weir and Alasdair Galloway (Letters, November 1) need to be reminded of the nature and status of devolution.

Its nature is that Scotland has two parliaments. It has a UK Parliament with a UK Prime Minister to govern all-UK issues which is elected by the whole of the UK (including Scottish voters) and a subsidiary Scottish Parliament with a Scottish First Minister to govern Scotland-only issues which is elected by Scottish voters only. Its status is that it was voted for by Scotland's voters in 1997 and was confirmed as Scotland's preferred model of government in 2014 in the largest vote ever for anything in our entire history.

Following that vote, the balance of powers between the two parliaments was adjusted following the Smith Commission, whose recommendations were agreed by all of the Holyrood parties. Notably, it did not recommend transferring powers for a referendum to Holyrood, and far less that the primacy of Westminster on UK matters should be ceded to the Scottish Parliament.

Meanwhile, it should also be noted that if the two parliaments agree to hold a further referendum, it can be held at any time (although of course in 2014 we were told by the SNP that we should expect not one for a generation). It is very hard indeed to see in what universe these facts can be construed as being equivalent to the struggles of the Chartists and the Suffragettes or for colonial freedom. Likewise, it is plainly not the case that Scotland remains part of the UK by any process other than the consent of its voters, freely expressed in a fair and open referendum conducted on the widest possible franchise.

Indeed, it is the likes of Messrs Weir and Galloway who would deny democracy, in their constant and repeated insistence in trying to overturn the outcome of 2014. I for one am sick and tired of my vote being disrespected and ignored in this way.

I suspect that in this I am not alone amongst your readers.
Peter A Russell, Glasgow

Witch hunt over the ferries

BRIAN Wilson ("SNP’S ferries fiasco has sunk hopes of shipbuilding on Clyde", The Herald, November 1) forgets to mention that commercial shipbuilding on the Clyde was effectively killed off when successive Westminster governments failed to invest some of the hundreds of billions the UK Treasury earned in the heyday of North Sea oil into modernising Scottish shipbuilding and manufacturing industries. Norway and Denmark did so, and became world leaders in shipbuilding and renewable energy manufacturing.

In August 2014, Labour demanded that the Scottish Government save Fergusons shipyard, even if it meant public ownership. It also demanded everything be done to ensure future contracts went to the yard to guarantee shipbuilding on the Clyde and save jobs.

Blame for ferry failures is becoming a political witch hunt with the wrong targets, as Richard Leonard’s recent desperate attempts on TV to implicate Nicola Sturgeon by innuendo clearly illustrate.
Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Labour MPs let us all down

I AGREE with recent contributors (Letters, October 28 & 31) who say that Jeremy Corbyn was traduced by sections of the media and of his own party. However, Labour under Mr Corbyn won only 32 per cent of the vote in 2019; under his leadership, it was never going to attract enough votes from the centre ground to win power.

Given recent shenanigans, it’s worth remembering that Mr Corbyn struggled to get on to the ballot to be Labour leader in 2015. He needed 35 nominations from MPs and achieved 36. According to the BBC, “as many as 12 of the MPs who nominated him actually supported other candidates”. Former Labour Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett agreed that she had been a “moron” to nominate him.

So, a foolish choice by a few MPs gave Labour an unelectable leader, which helped give us two more Tory governments, Boris Johnson, a hard Brexit and Liz Truss. Dear oh dear, as King Charles might say.
Doug Maughan, Dunblane

Where have the police gone?

I REMEMBER as a child on long car journeys playing "I Spy" and using the little book provided to note down a rare car, or a bird I hadn't seen before. It was a great way of passing time on a long journey to my Gran's.

Now as an adult I pass the time trying to spot that rare species known as a policeman, whether out and about on the street or in a vehicle.

Recently I travelled from my village to Manchester and didn't see one.

This can't be right,they are our First Emergency Service and the ones to turn to in times of need. Semper Vigilo? I don't think so.
Neil Stewart, Balfron

Read more letters: Labour's ship has sailed


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