MARY Thomas (Letters, November 29) claims that under Michael Matheson’s tenure Scotland’s NHS avoided damaging strikes. I didn’t realise that Mr Matheson is the Time Lord Doctor Who in his spare time. Mr Matheson took over as Health and Social Care Secretary on March 29 this year. The unions representing the midwives and nurses accepted the pay offer put to them on March 20, 2023.

Ms Thomas also falls for the old SNP trick of making an announcement of 153 additional trainee doctor posts and we are meant to believe that means it will be happening. Who can forget the laptop for every child announcement that has fallen by the wayside, or the pledge to dual the A9 to name but two? Words are meaningless when they are not followed up by action and that is where the SNP fails time and time again.

Ms Thomas is deluded in her belief that the SNP is good for Scotland. Our education standards have fallen under the SNP, drug deaths have soared and police numbers are due to be cut by up to 3,000.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.

Looking past the spin

THE SNP-Green coalition policies have so often met with adverse unintended consequences that it is difficult to know if they are guilty of naivety in not anticipating these outcomes or arrogance by pushing through policies that they know are flawed, and hoping we are too stupid to look past their spin. I am not sure which is worse.

The latest is the private sector rent freeze. Who could have predicted that capping current tenancy rises to 3% would lead to landlords massively hiking rents for new tenancies ("ScotGov rent freeze loophole blamed as private rents soar", heraldscotland, November 29)? Well, virtually anyone with an iota of common sense. For how much longer must we put up with this incompetence?

Brian Murphy, Glasgow.

Read more: SNP has a record to be proud of. With indy it could do even better

Sturgeon's humanity

I NOTE with interest Alison Rowat's column ("What kind of legacy does Nicola Sturgeon deserve?", The Herald, November 29).

To my mind, Nicola Sturgeon’s legacy is clear: she was the leader who appeared every day, blessedly Covid-free, on television to reassure the public. Her dedication to serving her country, weekdays and weekends, high days and holidays was extraordinary. The personal burn-out toll on her energy must have been punishing.

Each day she took questions from an increasingly hostile press, showing up Boris Johnson’s government. While they caught Covid, and now we know how and why, she continued to forge an exceptional relationship with the people of Scotland. I will never forget her humanity, care and self-sacrifice in the face of an appalling crisis.

Frances Scott, Edinburgh.

We must control our energy future

ANDREW Bowie, the UK Minister for Nuclear Power, was speaking at a Nuclear in Scotland event in Holyrood today (November 29) pushing expensive and dangerous nuclear power on to energy-rich Scotland. That’s insane.

Nuclear power has consistently failed to deliver energy on time or on budget. The much-touted Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) don’t yet exist, are heavily dependent on government subsidies to come on stream and will generate more toxic nuclear waste for which there is no safe disposal.

Unlike renewables, where costs are falling, nuclear costs keep climbing. The UK Government has flung billions at Hinkley Point C, guaranteeing £92.50 per MW hour over the next 35 years, twice as much as is guaranteed for wind.When finished, Hinkley Point C will be one of the most expensive power stations in the world. And Scottish households will pay £80 a year for nuclear on top of already-exorbitant energy bills.

Scotland is self-sufficient in renewables and produces most of the UK’s oil and gas. We don’t need nuclear. We do need a public energy company that serves Scotland. Private companies and foreign governments own our energy which is why the Scottish people don’t benefit. We also need a public energy grid. The privatised National Grid charges Scottish companies 10 times more than English companies. Scotland is subsidising the rest of the UK, paying more to provide it with our renewable energy and then more to buy some of our own power back.

To end the insanity and control our energy future, we must end the Union.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.

• LET Andrew Bowie bellow all he wants, Scotland is already looking forward to the demise of Torness.

Glasgow did not host COP26 to show the world it would pollute it with nuclear waste. It wanted to show the world that Scotland was keen to set up enough green energy plants to power Scotland and have enough electricity left to sell to other like-minded countries.

We have water, sea and wind enough to do this. Why follow Mr Bowie’s suggestion that we should set up a nuclear power taskforce to train young people in nuclear power engineering? We should be teaching our young people to work in renewable energy fields. There is still much to be invented to harness wave power reliably. We have a planet to save.

Westminster denies Scotland the right to choose to be an independent country. Does it think we will roll over and obey an order to pollute our country to please it?

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh.

UK tax burden is soaring

AS the dust begins to settle after the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, all that glitters in the way of much-heralded tax cuts by Mr Hunt is not gold.

While the Chancellor announced a cut in National Insurance (NI) rates, he opted to leave NI and income tax thresholds untouched, meaning they remain frozen until 2028.

Through what is known as fiscal drag, with pay increases to ease the cost of living crisis this has pulled more people into paying a larger amount of tax on their personal income.

According to official figures, some 2.2 million more workers now pay the basic rate income tax of 20 per cent compared with three years ago, while 1.6m more people now find themselves in the 40 per cent tax bracket over the same period.

Through a clear case of smoke and mirrors, it has been estimated that by 2029 almost four million more people will be paying income tax, and three million will move into the higher tax bracket.

The amount of extra income tax the Treasury is getting from fiscal drag from 2022 to 2028 is the equivalent to a 6p increase in the basic rate of income tax. This dwarfs the National Insurance cut, and means that this is set to be the biggest tax-raising Parliament in modern times.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.

Read more: Sadly, Alex Salmond is thinking only of himself

The single market myth

IAN McConnell writes that "people can do the arithmetic for themselves" about Brexit ("Those responsible for Brexit should eat humble pie", The Herald, November 29), but I actually did that long ago, with help from the EU itself.

In 2012 Michel Barnier, later the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, reported that after 20 years the single market had boosted EU GDP by a mere 2%. However, that was the average across the member states and according to the German Bertelsmann Institute the UK had gained only half of that, 1%.

The truth is that before the EU referendum the Treasury greatly overstated the value of the single market as part of George Osborne's "Project Fear". In reality at least 97% of our 81% economic growth since 1992 has had nothing to do with its creation, but is attributable to other factors.

Dr D R Cooper, Maidenhead, Berkshire.

The Herald: Part of the Parthenon Marbles in the British MuseumPart of the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum (Image: PA)

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Let Greece buy back the Marbles

EVERY so often when a Greek politician arrives in the UK, the issue of the Elgin (or Parthenon) Marbles is brought to the fore ("Greece disagrees on claims it broke Marbles assurances", The Herald, November 29). It appears that both sides in this argument are correct. The best place for these Marbles would seem to be in the Parthenon Museum where they will “complete the set”.

However, when Lord Elgin acquired the Marbles from the legal authorities in Athens who were at that time the Ottoman Empire, he was concerned that if they remained in place they would deteriorate or be damaged beyond repair. The Ottomans had been in control of Greece for around 400 years and so were deemed to be the legal authority at that time. After legally acquiring the Marbles, Lord Elgin sold them to the British Museum. They then became the legal owner of the Marbles.

Since Greece wants them back, I suggest they offer to purchase them from the British Museum. This would be more sensible than expecting them to be returned at no cost. Whosoever ends up with them, the other could make plaster casts to exhibit in their own museum. I suspect most would be unable to detect the difference from the originals.

Colin Gunn, Glasgow.