I REACHED a half-century last year and am increasingly aware of taking the long view.

In the 1970s, my primary class totalled 32 pupils. I started Secondary in the mid 1980s when the teacher strikes struck, again in a class of 32 but, more damagingly, we were lucky if we were at school two days a week (Mondays and Fridays because that caused the least attrition to the strikers’ salaries) for nearly 18 months.

My parents, in desperation, moved me, very much against their beliefs and principles, and with a large dollop of sacrifice, to a small local private school, with class sizes of 24 or less. I had a lot of catching up to do, but I thrived, and it was such a relief to be supported, challenged, and seen as an individual, beliefs that I carried into my own public sector FE teaching career.

However, there is no doubt that my education and those of my peers suffered greatly, and I was very privileged to get any sort of catch-up. I rejoiced in the 2000s when the SNP made it its routine manifesto pledge to reduce class sizes to 24. Twenty years since those pledges my son, nine, is currently in a class of 31, and teachers are striking again.

In my constituency, we’re back to the 1980s this week with an additional six days of strike foisted on us as an attack on the First Minister. He’ll be at school two to three days a week for the next three weeks. It’s not an attack on the FM: it’s an attack on my child and his classmates. In my long view, we’ve gone backward: thank you SNP, thank you teachers, I’m heartbroken. Surely there is a better way.
FM Leary, Glasgow

Clear out rest of cabinet

FOLLOWING the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon it is surely time to clear out the complete “parcel of rogues” from the SNP Government, as all of them must take their share of the blame for the disastrous economic legacy of the First Minister – notwithstanding her appalling record on public services, ranging from education to drug deaths.

Soon the attention will switch to Peter Murrell and whether he will resign as his position as CEO of the SNP has also become untenable due to the mystery surrounding SNP funds and a position he should never held with his wife as First Minister.

To say the SNP hierarchy is short of talent would be a gross understatement; proof of this is perhaps best explained by Alex Salmond (following the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon), when he said: "There is no clear strategy for independence", which is a damming indictment of the FM after eight years in power and it being the sole reason for voting SNP.

The chances are now high that support for the SNP’s big independence lie will continue to fall and may even drop to around 30 per cent with Scottish Labour the clear beneficiaries along with the Scottish Conservatives in second place.

As far as I am concerned the familiar battleground of the right, middle and left vying to get into power to represent the best interests of the Scottish voters would be most welcome rather than the divisiveness of nationalism which we have been subjected to since “Oor Oil” became the rallying call of the SNP back in the 1970s. “Those days are past now, and in the past they must remain”, as we look forward once again to working together in the Union maximising the amazing potential of our small island.
Ian Lakin, Aberdeen

Sturgeon undone by the Greens

NICOLA Sturgeon deserves praise for carrying out her role as First Minister with dignity and humanity, gaining global respect in political circles.

Her resignation is less due to her direct failings but is in fact the fallout from the ill-fated tie-in with the Greens. The naive arrangement whereby the Greens would support the SNP obviously had a price. That price obviously included the flawed gender bill, a stop to improving the A9, the ill-devised return deposit scheme and the impossible to achieve zero-carbon scheme to reduce Scotland's 0.1% of global emissions. All from a woke fantasy world.

In being pressed by the Greens looking for their pound of flesh at any cost, Nicola Sturgeon was simply seen as a means to an end which with any logic will now by abandoned by the next First Minister.
John A Smith, Dunblane

• NICOLA Sturgeon is unarguably a big beast in Holyrood terms. As she says she intends to continue as an MSP, from the back benches inevitably she will cast a long, potentially uncomfortable shadow over her SNP colleagues.

There is one solution which occurs which might well appeal to her as it has relatively high status. At the same time it should appeal to those of her colleagues worried about that shadow, and to the rest of us also because it would require her to demonstrate that she has the ability to be unbiased when required. Finally, the pay is pretty good. What’s not to like? Candidate for the role of next Presiding Officer?
Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop

• IN response to Peter A Russell (Letters, February 17), when the polls were showing 50%+ for independence, did he consider the Union side were “only a noisy and fanatical minority ….. shunned by the majority”?
Cameron Crawford, Rothesay

Labour is not the answer

LABOUR in Scotland will look to capitalise on Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation. But it's a common phrase from ex-Labour voters, "that I did not leave Labour, Labour left me". As I watch Sir Keir Starmer roll back on every pledge he made to become leader, I do not see a party that has changed, do you?

Sir Keir and Wes Streeting were among the Labour MPs to receive funding from private health donors. A politician who says he’ll protect the NHS whilst dining with those who wish to strip it for parts. Nowadays, Sir Keir tries to sell the Brexit dream like a used car salesman flogging a rust bucket.

It’s not simply that he and the Labour Party don’t understand Scotland, they don’t really care about it either. Gordon Brown recently said that we shouldn’t disrupt the political structure of the UK to accommodate Scotland, as it would inconvenience England. We should accept a broken political system, riddled with corruption, aided and abetted by unelected Lords.

Yet, Scotland has changed. A confident country, comfortable with its social consciousness. Looking not south for ideas, but to the north and east. A country that is far more comfortable with our smaller, wealthier, more successful neighbours.

Those hoping for the SNP’s demise forget an inescapable truth. The movement for Scotland’s self-determination does not rest on the shoulders of an individual, but on an idea and a promise of a better future. A future only temporarily delayed by anti-democratic sentiment south of the Border.

Scotland’s independence is the elephant in the room. Labour has no reply to the burning question. It would continue to allow a wealthy few to reap the rewards of Scotland’s vast resources, as our own people queue at food banks.

We should not let our aspirations be ignored any longer. The incalculable damage of Brexit has proven that we are not adequately protected by damaging decisions taken elsewhere.

Under Labour, such decisions will be meekly accepted. With the SNP, we’ll continue to have Scotland’s interests at the heart of our politics. We may not always agree with them, but our country is stronger for having them.
Colin Storrier, Edinburgh

We could do better on pensions

IF Ireland can pay its pensioners more than £220 per week, why can’t the UK? At £185 per week, the amount that is payable with a full National Insurance (NI) record, it is less than a third of an average wage. Without other income, it is usually not enough to live on.

And yet so many other countries can afford to allow their pensioners some dignity. Every other country in Europe treats their older population with more consideration. Why shouldn’t retirement be enjoyed? With life expectancy high, there is no pleasure in cold living, eating frugally, and scouring the papers for free entertainment. When I have the leisure time, I want to be able to travel, to go regularly to cinemas and theatres, and to enjoy what I eat and drink.

Think what an extra £35 a week would let you do, and dream of an independent Scotland. Freed from Westminster’s budget, Scotland would follow its progressive attitude to child poverty which has made such a difference to thousands of families, and pay the over-66s a living pension. The alternative is the UK Government, already plotting to raise the age at which their meagre contribution to a lifetime in employment is paid.
Frances Scott, Edinburgh


Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.