AS someone fortunate enough to have been a high earner at certain times in my career, I never resented paying a higher rate of tax. I did resent the chronic misuse of my cash by various governments over many years.

The whole tax system is flawed and the severe lack of accountability of government “projects” would never be tolerated in a private business. It’s this severe lack of accountability that enables massive overspends and failed achievements of timelines. The Edinburgh trams, the ferries, the Scottish Parliament building are but a few examples.

Scandinavian countries tend to have high taxation but it’s reflected in the quality of their infrastructures, schools, hospitals, roads, transport; all are all miles better than ours. We, on the other hand, have high taxation and very poor quality of services and our infrastructure is in a state of collapse.

The relentless underperformance of the Scottish Government will continue so long as we allow small-minded and unqualified people like Patrick Harvie and Humza Yousaf to have unaccountable control that allows them to drive personal agendas to the detriment of our country. It’s a sad state of affairs.

John Gilligan, Ayr.

No wonder we're sceptical

JOHN Swinney MSP made a contribution to the debate following Cabinet Secretary Màiri McAllan’s statement to parliament on December 20 in which she announced a delivery plan to complete the dualling of the A9 between Inverness and Perth ("A9 dualling will be finished by the end of 2035, MSPs told", The Herald, December 21).

Mr Swinney commented that this "builds on the successful completion" of six major capital projects. Construction of four of these (Airdrie-Bathgate rail link, M74 completion, Borders Railway and the Queensferry Crossing) commenced in the period between June 2007 and September 2011. Construction of the other two (M8 completion and Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route) commenced in early 2015.

It is notable that, putting ferries aside, no major capital project has started since then, highlighting the weakness of the Sturgeon administration when it comes to delivery.

Papers recently released to Holyrood’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee confirm that there was no delivery plan for upgrading the A9. Since 2015 successive transport secretaries, including Humza Yousaf, have failed to get to grips with developing a meaningful approach to procurement and funding of the programme. It was this failure that led to the years of delay rather than technical issues, the Covid pandemic, the Ukraine war and all the other excuses that have been put forward.

After 10 months of deliberation, the plan that Ms McAllan has published appears, at last, to have some substance behind it. However, that is no reason to celebrate. This plan should have been in place eight years ago.

Late as it is, the plan is also qualified in that it is "subject to ongoing due diligence and further decision-making in late 2025". This may well turn into another reason for delay.

People in the Highlands are rightly sceptical about this Government delivering to this plan and the upgrade of 83 miles of road finally being completed 28 years after it was first announced.

George Rennie, Inverness.

Read more: Shona Robison Budget disaster shows SNP bubble is finally burst

Tax rises should be welcomed

I’VE not been remotely surprised by the frenzied comments from many opposition list MSPs criticising the new income tax arrangements in Scotland. This faux outrage even extends to Labour list MSPs who seem to have abandoned their principles of taxing the rich. It’s no wonder they are being labelled “red Tories”.

Although these increases for the richest in our land are minuscule compared to what they actually earn, we are nevertheless being subjected to dire predictions of a mass exodus of high earners as a result of the new arrangements.

I have refreshed my memory by reading a list of more than 50 positive benefits achieved by Nicola Sturgeon’s government during her tenure as First Minister and I would be surprised to learn of one high earner who did not benefit from at least one of these benefits.

For example, if a very high earner with teenage children moved south, the cost of university tuition fees would vastly outweigh the proposed small increase in income tax.

Quite frankly, asking the highest earners in our country to pay a little more in income tax should be commended rather than denigrated.

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.

The Herald: Michael MathesonMichael Matheson (Image: PA)

The price of untruths

WHILE I wouldn't criticise Ruth Marr's description of Baroness (and I wonder what David Cameron was taking when he ennobled her) Mone (Letters, December 21) I can't agree with her description of Michael Matheson as "a decent man who made an honest mistake". Mr Matheson may be a decent man in other respects, but he and Lady Mone made the same, unforgivable mistake: neither offered an honest explanation as soon as the respective matters first arose and both failed to tell the truth when eventually taken to task (that is, lied) so both must expect to pay a similar price in terms of public regard.

It's interesting that both offer the same excuse, of wanting to protect their families. That may be understandable, but it doesn't change the original untruth, not does that untruth have any relevance to party affiliation.

Brian Chrystal, Edinburgh.

• THE somewhat pathetic recent ramblings of Baroness Moan (sic) and the preceding verbal contortions of Michael Matheson prompt recalling the aphorism that people reveal more about themselves while lying than when they tell the truth.

I would also add that reputation is harmed most by what is said to defend it.

What has happened to humility, contrition, honesty, trust and any number of ethical considerations in this increasingly morally-bankrupt world?

Keith Swinley, Ayr.

Read more: Mone was naive in thinking that telling lies would protect her family

Oh for another Ghandi

DAVID Howie (Letters, December 19) wonders if the Israeli government’s objective in Gaza “is to murder every Palestinian who lives there”. Given the continuing barrage of bombs and shells being fired into congested civilian areas, it appears that is indeed what Benjamin Netanyahu and his bloodthirsty cabinet have in mind.

On October 17 you published a letter in which I posed the question of how many dead Palestinians there would have to be to assuage the Israeli government’s rage. Was it 15,000? 150,000? A million? That first figure is well behind us now; if you count the thousands whose bodies lie rotting under the rubble from Israeli airstrikes, the number of dead is probably about 30,000. That’s over one in every 100 of the population. And still the massacre goes on, with disease and starvation waiting in the wings.

Some world leaders who were slow to urge restraint on the Israeli government are now suggesting that continuing their vicious military campaign will only increase the threat to Israel in the years ahead. A statement of the obvious and far too late in the day. The die is cast, and Mr Netanyahu and his supporters have condemned the population of Israel to decades of insecurity, forever in fear of another terrorist attack.

The disaster that is Palestine has been allowed to grow and fester for decades, and it’s largely the UK and latterly the US that created the mess. If madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome, there can be few better examples than the Western policy of arming and uncritically supporting Israel.

Only a figure with the wisdom and courage of a Gandhi could turn the situation around, and modern politics doesn’t produce people like that any more.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

• DESPITE the horror of pictures coming out of Gaza and our concern for humanitarian conditions in the area, it should be noted that the current suggestions of the United Nations for a ceasefire are a little late, having largely shelved the inherent problems in the area for a number of years and said nothing about the rockets and drones continuing to be launched against Israel.

All decent people, I am sure, want to see an end to the horrors and an avoidance of disease; however, I suggest, our world has unleashed a terrifying new weapon for terrorists and anyone with demands: hostage-taking. There was a well-founded reason behind the former rule not to give in to ransom requests as it would risk escalating hostage-taking as a way of procuring demands. It would not be surprising if terrorist groups changed to investing, more generally, in hostage-taking throughout the world (including the United Kingdom) as it now appears to be recognised as legitimised by the United Nations and the international media.

James Watson, Dunbar.