I NOTE that Humza Yousaf has inherited Nicola Sturgeon’s Big Book of Answers.

In the 1950s my dad, a baker to trade had, in an endeavour to make ends meet and provide for his family, a second job as a doorman/usher at the Empire Theatre in Edinburgh. If on an evening when my mother was also working, and alternative babysitting arrangements could not be made, he would take me to see that week’s variety programme and park me in a seat in the gods. From there it was possible to keep track on who was currently on stage using the illuminated indicator boards on each side of the stage which displayed the number of the Act. 

I would suggest that the Scottish Parliament adopt a similar practice for First Minister's Questions and instead of the FM reciting replies created by his army of Spads, the FM merely displays the number of the prepared incantation on a screen at the side of the presiding officer. Thus, we can free up time for ministers to solve the important and persistent issues such as the cost of living, attainment gap, and NHS waiting times. Although my favourite variety act as a kid was Wilson, Keppel and Betty, I can do without the sand dancing of evasive answers.
Andrew Robertson, Giffnock.

Hypocrisy of the SNP
MHAIRI Black’s assertion of the existence of a secret Tory/Labour election pact ("SNP dismiss Labour claims of ‘no electoral pact with Tories’", The Herald, April 4) is hilarious at best and blatantly mendacious at worst. 

The image that springs to mind is of Jackie Baillie sneaking stealthily about Dumbarton at dead of night, whispering sweetly in the ears of sleeping Tories, “Vote Labour to save the Union”.

This current discussion of political accommodations highlights the endemic hypocrisy of the SNP. Alex Salmond’s minority Holyrood administration 2007-2011 was maintained in office by an arrangement with Annabel Goldie’s Tory MSPs. More recently the closure of council care homes in South Lanarkshire was carried out courtesy of the 2017-21 SNP/Tory council administration.

Ms Black should reflect on the history of her own party before making unfounded allegations about Labour. 
James Quinn, Lanark.

We need a complete reset
FOR just how much longer is the SNP/Green Government in Scotland going to bury its head in the sand? The latest absolutely shocking cancer waiting times figures prove the Government isn't working ("Scotland's cancer waiting times now 'worst on record'", heraldscotland, April 4). 

There must be a change of emphasis. A complete reset is required which puts health, education and the economy first. This requires Humza Yousaf to ditch the Green Party and to promise to stop wasting time, effort and money upon the fruitless independence quest. If this is unacceptable then a new Holyrood election must be called for a fresh SNP mandate to be given if that is what the public really want.
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

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Our NHS does a great job
I DON'T know where to begin in disagreeing with Michael Sheridan (Letters, April 3).
To suggest that the Union helped achieve Scotland's "intellectual and cultural ascendancy" in the 18th century is frankly outrageous. I think we did that ourselves.
So too the claim that the BBC, a "product of the Union", is a world leader in "the promotion of international freedom of expression." Sorry, at times it appears to be a Government mouthpiece.

Freedom of movement is Mr Sheridan's next narrative in support of the Union at a time when our farming industry, hospitality trade and hospitals are crying out for workers we can't get from abroad because of the UK's strict immigration laws and Brexit.
We move then to money and "not merely token currency", says Mr Sheridan. Can I remind him Scotland's banking history goes back to the 1600s?
But then he really hits rock bottom, claiming that the Union can combine resources to provide a greater NHS. 

Despite so much negative coverage in the mainstream press Scotland's doctors, nurses and staff are doing a great job. And we've avoided much of the disruption and chaos seen south of the Border by agreeing new pay and conditions deals simply by sitting round a table, something the UK Government seemed unable to do.
Andy Stenton, Glasgow.

• MICHAEL Sheridan reminds us that Scotland was once one of the wealthiest nations on Earth.

Then we discovered oil and in stark contrast to Norway, Westminster contrived to burden Scotland with “current crippling fiscal and trade deficits” alluded to by James Quinn (Letters, April 3).

Rather than a case to remain in the UK, London’s economic policies alone are reason enough to go our own way or are those sunlit uplands just over the horizon?
Alan Carmichael, Glasgow.

UK economy is so fragile
THE letters by Michael Sheridan and Christopher H Jones (April 4) are, in my opinion, a dreadfully one-sided view of UK history, seen through the most rose-tinted glasses that could possibly be worn.

The trouble is no one can know what would have happened had Scotland not joined the Union or exactly what would happen if Scotland leaves.

To take one example, both laud the strength of the pound. The Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng Budget should remind us all how weak the UK economy is and we could all be heading for a future where it will be two pounds to the dollar or euro. The UK economy has been in sharp decline, particularly since the early 1980s, and is underpinned by rapidly rising property prices in London. Something that could change overnight for the worse.
Iain Cope, Glasgow.

Read more: Scotland owes so much to the strength of this precious Union

Return of the failures
HUMZA Yousaf appears to have introduced a Deposit Return Scheme for failed ministers: he had the chance of a clean slate, getting his money back, as it were. But he chose to buy more of the same with it; the results are predictable.

Shona Robison, Angela Constance, Joe Fitzpatrick, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Jenny Gilruth, and Mr Yousaf himself performed poorly in previous roles, so he reappoints or even promotes them. Thus we see the Peter Principle in operation, promoting individuals beyond their level of competence (if any, in the cases mentioned). The two Green ministers are in a class of their own, not even having been elected by anyone except a few members of their own party who voted them on to the Green list.

Is there really no talent on the SNP benches at Holyrood that could have been brought forward to try to clean up the various messes made by the SNP over 16 years – in health, education, the economy, transport, to name but a few areas?
Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Westminster and The Mikado
JOYCE Avery (Letters, April 4) likens the new ministerial appointments in the Scottish Government to the numerous exalted positions held by Pooh Bah in The Mikado. Those familiar with the works of the Savoy operas, or more correctly operettas, will know William Gilbert, librettist, and Arthur Sullivan, composer, produced 14 Gilbert & Sullivan operettas over two decades at the height of the British Empire. Parody of Westminster features in a number of songs, including The Mikado, otherwise known as the Town of Titipu.

I am afraid that in her attempt to ridicule the Scottish Government Cabinet appointments, Ms Avery misses the mark. The numerous positions of office held by Pooh Bah can more readily be likened to the same titles currently held by the Government in Westminster rather than the Government in Scotland. Let us not forget Poo Bah was quite frequently “insulted” with a backhander – that’s Westminster for you.
Alan M Morris, Blanefield.

Read more: Unionist parties must get together to help save Scotland

Time to ditch the Greens
FERGUS Ewing was right to criticise the Scottish Greens participation in the SNP Government ("SNP MSP hits out at Greens as he calls for end to powersharing deal", heraldscotland, April 1).

The Scottish Greens were rejected by the people on the first ballot at the last Scottish election and only got into parliament on the list. Their share of the vote was a derisory eight per cent.

The Scottish Greens are an extremist party compared with some of the Greens in Europe. They are more concerned with social engineering such as gender reform than helping the Scottish economy and business.

The SNP will lose seats unless it ditches the Greens forthwith,
Richard McLellan, Lochgilphead, Argyll.

It's obviously not meant to be
READING the large amount of correspondence in your Letters Pages on the subject of independence I am firmly of the belief, and have been for a very long time, that had the Scottish people really wanted independence they would have had it years ago.
Nothing to this day has changed that belief.
Bill Rutherford, Galashiels.