AS a staunch unionist it pains me to say this, but the SNP is not to blame for the current mess.

The Scotland Act, a populist product of the Blair/Brown government, is the root cause. The Section 30 provision was included in the mistaken belief that the Labour Party would always prevail in Scotland. It created the opportunity to change the narrative from decentralisation (necessary), to devolution. No attention was given to the development of any institutional capacity for service delivery.

This was incredibly stupid, and should be updated, amended or replaced by Westminster as soon as possible. In addition, the absence of any strict external financial controls over the use of the Barnett funding was criminal, especially as it relates to UK taxpayer funds. This has resulted in a bloated and politicised civil service. Also, the current ferries fiasco has exposed just one example of the severe limitations on the Scottish Auditor General. The introduction of independent financial control and imposition of sanctions for any abuse must be introduced as a matter of urgency.

Now we have political leaders (and Gordon Brown) saying the answer is more devolution. Perish the thought; the current problems show that it was too much, in one step. This must be reviewed in detail, and fixed before any further decentralisation, never mind devolution, is considered.
Ian Wetherill, Greenock

I can't fathom the moaners

I CANNOT decide whether I should pity some of your regular contributors for their miserable outlook on life under an SNP Government, or be happy that they have led such charmed lives that they have not needed the benefits it has introduced. While they moan that we are too stupid to see the error of our ways in continually electing an SNP majority, I have good reason for a different view.

In my family, I can count six, over two generations, who achieved a degree thanks to free university tuition and have gone on to follow a professional career of benefit to society, one who, having to pay fees, had to give up her dream and leave university a year before graduation when the family provider died, and another who had to give up a coveted place to allow a sibling to be paid for. In the younger generation, one will be able in a year or so to begin to fulfil her ambition to study law, not possible if fees had to be paid.

Then there is the cancer sufferer, having his life extended for several years by free prescriptions, which otherwise could not have been afforded. Also a neighbour, who seldom herself ate a decent meal in order to feed her children, but who can now eat well because of the Scottish Child Payment and the free meals for the children at school.

Probably these moaners have never been in the position to need any of these and other advantages of devolution. Those who are aware of them value it. In any case, what a poor opinion of their fellow Scots these folk must have, to believe the majority are too stupid to cast the “correct” vote. Or is the only intelligent choice the one these moaners make?
L McGregor, Falkirk

Votes Yes for a tax rise

NO wonder polls show an increase in the Yes vote.

The SNP is delivering leaflets listing 10 European countries that are "wealthier, happier and fairer" than us, claiming that with independence we'd be the same. They don’t say eight of them collect an average of 41% of GDP in taxes, not 34% like the UK. Denmark collects 46% of its GDP in tax.

Scotland can already raise not just income tax rates but also wealth taxes on property, pensions and savings. In fact the STUC report "Scotland demands better, fairer taxes" shows how an extra £3.3 billion could be raised.

Of course a leaflet entitled "vote Yes for a a 20% tax rise" wouldn't work, but the SNP should be honest about how these countries do it and why, after 15 years in government, it has never fully used its tax levers or reformed public services to give more bang for our buck.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven

The Scottish people are suffering

IS the Scottish NHS really safe in the hands of the SNP/Green alliance? Shocking new figures show that the actual number of NHS consultant posts vacant in Scotland is not the official Government one of 6.2 per cent but actually 14.32% ("Consultant vacancies in NHS ‘double’ official stats", The Herald, December 20).

This discrepancy is life-threatening. Whilst the Scottish Government concentrates on side issues like gender reform and independence the people on Scotland's streets are suffering. Humza Yousaf keeps telling us the situation will improve, but John Swinney's tax grab last week can only make things worse. This is truly a case of the SNP and Greens fiddling whilst Scotland burns.
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Time to reject the make-believe

AS a rather elderly member of the electorate in Scotland, I am somewhat bemused by the turmoil within Scotland's political scene – mainly created by the SNP.

It most certainly does seem that the majority of the key functions of government such as education, health, public transport, welfare, security, and local government services are being grossly neglected by Holyrood.

A new breed of politician has emerged in recent years, the only aim of whom seems to be to try to undermine the 315-year-old Union of Parliaments. Their motives can only be described as narrow and economically unsound – and would only result in Scotland becoming one of the poorer countries in Europe.

SNP political policies are somewhat make-believe. They fail to take into account the stability created over the centuries from being part of the UK. From a political, economic or social perspective there is no doubt that we British are a rare mixture of races and peoples, with a global perspective.

So beware fellow Scots of the unqualified optimism of the SNP cult in relation to Scotland's future as an independent country. Take account of :

• Scotland's current economic deficit which requires massive subsidisation annually from the Westminster Exchequer per the Barnett Formula;

• Scotland's reliance on being part of the UK for defence; also lest we forget it the Scottish economy currently benefits from having major UK defence industries based on the Forth and Clyde estuaries;

• As an independent country, Scotland would obviously require to establish a central bank, and create its own currency. In that context how would it fare in international monetary markets?

One could go on and on with such a theme.

I believe that deep-down most Scots know that nationalism is a non-starter. After all, that was their verdict in the 2014 referendum. It would be prudent for the folks of Scotland to completely reject all the Scottish nationalist hype – and just try to get on with their lives in a less contentious political climate.
Robert IG Scott, Ceres, Fife

Free thinking is under attack

YOUR front-page exclusive by James McEnaney (“Anti-abortion group makes dozens of visits to schools”, The Herald, December 20) showed an unusual sense of perspective. Missiles are being dropped on Ukraine, the redirection of asylum seekers to Rwanda is being debated and record numbers of Scots will struggle with drug addiction this Christmas and yet we are supposed to be alarmed by the “revelation” that the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child has been invited into many Scottish schools by teachers. It turns out that the critics who have “grave concerns” are confined to Willie Rennie MSP and Fraser Sutherland, the Head of the Humanist Society.

SPUC is a respected organisation with charitable status and a respectable track record and yet to my mind it is presented in the article as something akin to the Klu Klux Klan. Most damningly, it is revealed that it has received financial support from America.

If SPUC is “controversial” it is controversial in the sense that the Humanist Society is controversial – not all of us agree with what it stands for. The position of SPUC and other pro-life organisations is that human life begins before birth and should be reverenced. That is a position with a long and worthy pedigree.

The only “grave concerns” that the article raises are in respect of the way that free thinking is under attack and that there are those who want our young people to hear only what is “on message”, whether that be in regard to abortion or gender ideology.
Ivor MacDonald, Coatbridge

Read more letters: Anti-abortion rhetoric is not pro-life. Keep it out of schools


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