SIR Keir Starmer has been quoted as saying the programme implemented by an incoming Labour government would be like “Blair’s Clause IV on steroids” ("Starmer plan to expand UK voting ages is ‘classic Labour’, claims frontbencher", The Herald, May 15). At a time when the performance of privatised services such as water, energy and rail is coming under increasing scrutiny, this seems like a rather peculiar marketing strategy.

Specifically, invoking the prospect of a New-Improved Labour government with the intention of appealing to Conservative-leaning voters, particularly when the current offering doesn’t have the advantage of Tony Blair’s indisputable charisma, completely ignores the reality of politics north of the Border.

Labour voters in England may have little option but to keep putting crosses in their traditional box, but it’s not clear why any Labour or potential Labour voter in Scotland would be attracted by the prospect of a Blairite administration. Bearing in mind Blair’s failure to roll back his predecessor's labour relations legislation, his commitment to maintaining privatised public services, his enforcement of the financially-crippling PFI process on service providers and his over-enthusiasm for deregulation, not to mention participation in an illegal invasion of Iraq and all that resulted from that debacle, it doesn’t sound like a prospect that would attract voters from any party apart from the Conservatives.

All in all not a great help to Anas Sarwar in his quest to recruit disaffected SNP supporters. it will simply demonstrate that what may work for Labour in England may not be such a vote-winner here.

Cameron Crawford, Rothesay.

Read more: Stop using our excellent NHS staff as political pawns

A matter of responsibilities

FOR many months now Dr Gerald Edwards (Letters, May 12) has been regularly criticising the Scottish Government and predicting its imminent downfall. It must therefore be frustrating for Dr Edwards and your other unionist correspondents that, despite the problems presently belabouring the SNP, the support for independence remains strong.

I think this is partly down to the fact that supporters for the retention of the Union give few reasons to justify their position. They are quick to condemn Holyrood decisions but have very little to say concerning the benefits of remaining in the UK. This is hardly surprising given the dreadful mess that we find ourselves in. Dreams of past imperial glories do not put food on the table nor heat your home. Without question, far from flowering with the "benefits of Brexit", the UK is now sadly diminished.

I also believe that there is wide support for the idea of a Scottish government that is directly answerable to the Scottish people – a support that transcends party politics. A government that is motivated by a desire to improve the lives of Scots and not a government that is ideologically driven by the deluded members of the Tory Party who are in thrall to wealth, power and influence. We are most definitely not “all in this together” nor is the Tory Government “delivering success for the whole of the UK”. It seems that the only beneficiaries of this "delivery" are the 68,300 individuals claiming non-dom tax status and the wealthy, able to move their assets to overseas trusts and Crown Dependency tax havens thanks to the slackness of HMRC regulations. Nor is the prospect of a Labour government which has lost its moral compass and with a leader who is thrashing around trying to win votes by any means possible, much more appealing.

Finally, there is the question of government responsibilities. While clearly there have been mistakes made by the Scottish Government working with its restricted devolved responsibilities, there is clear evidence of progressive policies being implemented that have benefited Scotland. Compare the Scottish Government record with the catalogue of failures that are doing such damage to the UK. A failing economy; a punishing austerity programme; a rising cost of living with hundreds of thousands now dependent on food banks; the continuing damage being done by Brexit; widespread industrial unrest; public services in crisis; a broken immigration policy; a rail network that is not fit for purpose and a catalogue of expensive failures in projects commissioned by the Tory Government. HS2, Crossrail, the Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station and now, the latest MoD disaster, the Ajax armoured vehicle, have all been years late in delivery and billions of pounds over budget. All of this is the responsibility of a government characterised by dogma, incompetence, sleaze and duplicity. Scotland can surely do better than this.

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh.

Sturgeon and a shocking legacy

IT is now just over 13 weeks since Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to resign her position as First Minster. In that time, every effort has been made by her acolytes to construct a positive “legacy” for her time in power. However, their abject failure to do so has been highlighted (should highlights have been needed) by the devastating comments of the outgoing Children’s Commissioner, Bruce Adamson ("Sturgeon ‘absolutely failed’ over vow to improve children’s lives", The Herald, May 15).

His shocking critique is in plain and understandable language as he claims Ms Sturgeon “absolutely” failed Scotland’s young people. Mr Adamson is independent of the Scottish Government and so can speak clearly and factually without fear of recrimination. His honesty should be applauded but at the same time, contrasted with the complete lack of action taken towards improving the lives of our most vulnerable children. Empty words and promises add to whatever “legacy” has been left by Ms Sturgeon. She should be ashamed.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

Read more: Yousaf defends Sturgeon after criticism by children's commissioner

Make our quangos independent

IT is interesting that the outgoing Children's Commissioner sees fit to criticise Nichola Sturgeon now that he is retiring yet such criticism, from him or other leaders in quangos, were not forthcoming whilst she was in post, thus highlighting the degree of control exercised by her.

It is high time that that these bodies are truly independent of ministerial control and influence, not accountable to ministers.

His acknowledgement that the Rights of the Child Bill was known to have overstepped the bounds of Holyrood also demonstrates that the SNP has deliberately acted to foment false grievances with Westminster, as also demonstrated with the bottle return scheme. There is a need for proposed legislation to be scrutinised at an early stage by a truly independent committee of MSPs acting with legal advice to prevent faux grievances in the future and focus the government, of which ever political party, on issues totally within its control.

Bill Eadie, Giffnock.

Slater highlights ferries failure

THE latest in the series of Lorna Slater fiascos ("Greens minister accused of ‘breathtaking hypocrisy’ after chartering boat", The Herald, May 13) has put me in mind of the rage she directed towards then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, when he flew by private jet from Rome to Glasgow to attend the COP 26 conference. Tweeting in October 2021, she pointed out that Mr Johnson could have “taken a train”, instead of making the 1,500-mile journey by aircraft.

Given the saint-like standards she seeks to impose on other elected representatives, one might expect Ms Slater to endure a simple 18-mile Calmac crossing from Mallaig to Rum, rather than making special arrangements for herself at the cost of both the environment and the taxpayer. The Scottish Government has defended the minister, claiming it allowed her to “maximise time on the island”. This is an admission that its shambolic running of Scotland’s ferry service doesn’t just make the use of private alternatives more convenient, it makes it a necessity for visitors who wish to spend any meaningful amount of time on the islands.

Simon Yates, Linlithgow.

Interest rates rise makes no sense

I’M not stupid, I’ve lots of certificates and diplomas that attest to that fact, so why can’t I understand the logic behind the raising of the bank lending rate?

Why, when the overwhelming majority of my fellow citizens are getting poorer, the economy is shrinking because people have less disposable income, price inflation grossly outstrips wage inflation and the service industry is experiencing a downturn, is more hardship being deliberately imposed on those who already owe money due to mortgage commitments and other bank loans? How can that possibly stimulate the economy? How can it help most of us? Surely it will have the exact opposite effect?

Why should a banking system controlled as it is by the few and whose prime raison d’etre is to create profit for those who already have money at the expense of those who need it be allowed to act in a manner that is obviously against the best interests of the majority? Why do we allow it?

David J Crawford, Glasgow.