IT is a truth universally acknowledged that we generally get what we pay for. That we are in the midst of a conflict between public sector workers and the Westminster Parliament provides evidence to support that view.

Since 2010, the public sector has had to contend with pay freezes, underfunding and staff shortages, all in the name of an ideologically-driven austerity to balance the books of the nation. Lip service was paid to the efforts of the overworked NHS which was lauded for its devotion in the time of Covid over and above the call of duty.

We were encouraged from on high to stand on our doorsteps to applaud the heroism of our dedicated medical staff. What began as a resounding clap of approval soon became a sharp slap in the face when it came down to rewarding their stalwart endeavours with cold cash. And the NHS was not the only service to suffer the indignity of such a fate.

We see the effects all around us as the Government tries to talk its way out of the cul de sac it has cornered itself into thanks to its unblinking ideology about the small state, low taxation and the primacy of the private sector.

It does not even seem to be aware that the general public, once bedazzled and bewitched by the empty promise that more money in the pockets of the public was preferable to higher taxes, has taken off its blinkers in recognition of the fallacy of a philosophy where the cutting of public services to the bone has left the country in the grip of food banks and the necessity to work overtime just to make ends meet, not to mention the progressive use of temporary contracts and the callous introduction of fire and re-hire tactics.

The final straw in that regard has come from the price explosions created by external circumstances arising from Russia's unprovoked assault upon Ukraine.

Finally the penny has dropped that public services, if they are to be of great community use, must be paid for by both the general public and the business sector, since they all benefit from the existence of properly-funded services.

We may not be on the verge of an economic revolution but we are now closer to a genuine understanding that both the private and the public sectors are there to contribute to the support of the entire body politic. If the Conservative Government sticks to its guns with its narrow ideology instead of undergoing a dramatic Damascene conversion to a compassionate economic model, it will find the 2024 election an excruciatingly painful experience when it is cast into the political wilderness to reflect long and sore upon its errors of judgment.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


ALISTER Jack, Westminster’s man in Scotland, tells us that his Scottish Office spent £1.5 million from Scottish taxes in the two years to 2023 on staff to “promote Scottish interests in the rest of the UK” ("Westminster spent £1.5m on spin doctors over past two years", January 8). If this is meant to refer to our commercial and industrial interests, we have no reason to rely on his help or on that of his private army of spin doctors. It is our own producers who are best able to advertise their own products and our own representatives overseas who are most effective in securing inward investment.

For all his expenditure, even he is unable to point to any successes. Yet we who live in Scotland know that Brexit, delivered against our wishes by him and his colleagues, is already filling the country with food banks while we have to watch our taxes being misused and poverty increase

The policies of the Tory Party at Westminster appear hell bent on leaving the people of Scotland poorer each year while Sir Keir Starmer rubs our noses in the Brexit disaster by reiterating the slogan “Take Back Control". Our only hope is to look forward to being able to vote for a party in a Scottish Government in an independent Scotland which has full control of our future and a radically different set of priorities from those Mr Jack is trying to sell us.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh.


DAY after day the SNP/Green Government in Scotland is losing its way.

Useless incomplete census data with no prosecutions for failing to fill them in. Smoke alarms mandated and then abandoned with the threat of prosecution thrown out. Gender reforms that have hugely unwanted and strangely-unforeseen dangerous side-effects. Mistake after mistake when it comes to the health service with no-one awake at the wheel to see this despite the klaxon-like quality of the warnings.

We have the transfer of the elderly from hospitals to care homes mistake about to be repeated. The planned decimation of Scotland's oil and gas industry, with all the job losses incurred and only meaningless words and pie-in-the-sky new job estimates to replace them, yet with no substitute fool-proof plans to keep our homes warm especially on cloudy and windless days.

The list of failures is endless yet no-one in the Government can see the writing on the wall. They will, however, eventually see the writing on the ballot papers. It is the damage still to be wrought on Scotland before this can happen that is the most troubling. Politicians were once seen as public servants. Now it is the other way around.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


CLARK Cross (Letters, January 8) is sadly mistaken in thinking the country’s future energy needs will be solved by going

down the nuclear road as he quotes France having done.

At the moment the UK employs more than16,000 of a workforce at 17 decommissioning sites costing the Government £2.21 billion in 2019-20. That cost will continue to rise as more old reactors enter the de-commissioning phase, for example Hunterston.

That 16,000 of a workforce is a "dead" labour pool contributing nothing to the productivity of the nation. They are clearing sites that produced the energy often decades and decades ago. And what’s more their job will take as long as it takes – it cannot be rushed.

Now presently there are 54 reactors under construction and 100 or so planned worldwide. Where is the uranium coming from for all the existing 438 reactors and those that will come into operation in the decades ahead?

The answer is a very limited number of mines. Forty-five per cent of uranium ore presently comes from Kazakhstan. It dominates the production tables, with 14 others countries making up the 55%. So would we as a nation be happy to go forward beholden to who knows which country for this vital ore to keep our reactors running? I think not. There are alternatives out there.

Professor Sir Tom Devine said on a recent BBC Debate Night that Britain in 1945 pursued a crusade on health leading to the birth of the NHS and he believes we need another crusade on energy. He is so right.

Alex Dickson, Lochinver.


THE problems with the NHS are delays and lack of access. The existing NHS model has become inadequate.

So now is the time for change, and the fast-food and supermarket industries could provide the model for a new rapid-result service with instant access. The CEO of the new NHS would be from a fast-food chain such as McDonald's, or from a supermarket.

The GP layer – whose task is to keep people out of hospital – is scrapped, and they are moved to new-style hospitals where someone feeling ill can simply turn up at any time.

People simply present at the entrance for examination, before being admitted that day for treatment.

Further investigation takes place immediately, and their problem is dealt with by means of diagnosis and medication and discharge, or the patient is admitted to a ward that day. All tests are performed there and then as required. There is no coming back later for results, as each new-design hospital will have laboratories on site.

Whatever treatment is appropriate is delivered that day, including admission for surgery or other procedures.

Recuperation after surgery takes place on site and discharge when well is immediate, with any medication provided instantly from an adjacent facility, probably organised by a former Amazon executive.

So we have eliminated delay and have reduced costs. No long referral procedures – which is how the NHS presently works. No more "come back and see me in six weeks" from a GP. Just a continuous process that delivers results in short order.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross.


AS is usual in my experience for people pushing for the return of strict Covid measures, Mike Wilson (Letters, January 8) presents no science or data.

He ought to read the scientific paper lead-authored by Casey Mulligan and published in June which gives evidence on this, titled “Non-Covid excess deaths 2020-21: Collateral damage of policy choices?”. This category of deaths includes drug- and alcohol-induced deaths, heart disease and hypertension, diabetes and obesity, road accidents and homicide. One of the main findings of this study was that for the EU as a whole during a period of strict lockdowns there were approximately 64 non-Covid excess deaths per 100,000. But for Sweden, which didn't have lockdowns, the figure was much lower at 33 per 100,000.

Geoff Moore, Alness.


MUCH as I enjoyed Sandra Dick's eloquent essay on the centenary of our most famous locomotive ("The world’s most famous train celebrates 100 years", January 8), I have to wonder how and why more than 100 tons of pulsating, powerful steel and steam called The Flying Scotsman ended up being called "she"?

I accept we live in unusual times gender-wise but surely this iconic industrial giant is an "it"?

Oh, wait. Have I just been cancelled?

Steve Brennan, Coatbridge.