PERHAPS some people are still “living in caves” because it seems to have come as a surprise to Ian Lakin (Letters, February 29) that devolution is essentially failing. Most who were not initially convinced that devolution within the financial straitjacket imposed by the UK Government was not intended to “succeed” (ie, economically perform better than the rest of the UK via exploitation of our enormous energy resources) have long since realised their mistake, many coming to that realisation even before the Tories came to power at Westminster and imposed more than a decade of austerity plus a hard Brexit.

Devolution has failed in Northern Ireland which at times has had no devolved government at all, and on nearly every measure the Labour Government in Wales is faring more poorly than the SNP Government without providing equivalent mitigations of harsh Westminster social policies and direct actions such as those introduced here to ameliorate child poverty. The NHS is under incredible strain throughout the UK, but overall the NHS in Scotland still performs better than in England and Wales. The limited PISA test results suggest that basic academic standards are falling across the UK, and particularly in Wales, but in Scotland another new record has just been set with more students than ever reaching positive destinations.

Fifty years have elapsed since the hidden McCrone Report confirmed that Scotland could stand on its own feet economically in spite of what was indicated to the Scottish public at the time by the major UK political parties and in 2014 the Scottish public was told that Scotland’s oil would run out within the next decade. Mr Lakin is correct that “the status quo is proving a disaster for Scotland”, but if you ask most people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is also a disaster for their nations. The obvious solution is not just “full fiscal autonomy” (which would undoubtedly be a step in the right direction) but democratic autonomy that would also come with the long overdue regaining of our country’s independence.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

What's the case for the UK?

WHAT a collection of letters this morning (February 29) from those whose opinions would not change even if we in Scotland found a way to change water into wine.

There are few who would dispute the current Holyrood administration comprises many who have been elevated beyond their abilities but the proposal from Ian Lakin to close our parliament and revert solely to Westminster raises a couple of questions.

Why is there no great anticipation of a Scottish Labour majority and any change it will bring?

Why is there no great discussion regarding how well England, Wales and Northern Ireland are prospering compared to Scotland?

Perhaps our unionist friends could cast aside their prejudices and explain the positive arguments for remaining part of the UK. After all, surely by now those sunlit uplands are just over the horizon?

Alan Carmichael, Glasgow.

READ MORE: Give us full fiscal autonomy to put an end to SNP whining

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LibDems out to confuse

THIS week I received an early communication through my letterbox from the LibDem candidate in the coming General Election.

Like three-quarters of the election material that arrives in the lead-up to any election, it was headlined “Only [insert name of relevant party] can beat the SNP”.

Nothing else in the pamphlet held any relevance for a Westminster election. From “Build a new Belford Hospital in Fort William” to “Increase access to mental health services”, all of the issues are devolved. There was no suggestion as to how this was likely to be facilitated by electing a LibDem MP to Westminster, for the simple reason that there is absolutely no connection between the two things.

The bullet points in the pamphlet were described as a “plan”, without addressing the key problem underlying the listed NHS woes: how the actions are to be funded.

If there had been some discussion in the text about how, as an MP, he can persuade the incoming government to allocate more resources to tackling the problems of NHS Scotland together with the underlying issues of poverty, poor housing and declining social services, the communication would have had at least some credibility.

However, as it stands, the document is simply an attempt to confuse voters into believing that electing another LibDem MP will, by some magic known only to the candidate himself, “fix our broken NHS” Scotland.

Cameron Crawford, Rothesay.

Reaching out to the needy

I WAS sad to read Elizabeth Hands' letter (February 29) regarding the SNP Government's spending on overseas aid. Scotland has a special relationship with Malawi which goes back centuries and there is today the Scotland Malawi Partnership, a national civil society network, supporting links and communities.

Ms Hands claims we are getting less and less for our taxes here in Scotland. Can I direct her to the Scottish Government’s efforts in tackling child poverty with the Scottish Child Payment, assisting in excess of 327,000 households? But Scotland’s socially-just Government is not just concerned with our own homeland, we can reach out and assist the world's needy while the UK Government cuts its overseas aid from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

Censorship within the SNP

WHEN interviewed a while ago on Fergus Ewing voting against the Government, Humza Yousaf said that “I’m not going to stop MSPs expressing their views. That would be inappropriate.”

Yet in an interview on Radio Scotland yesterday (February 28), Mr Ewing confirmed that there is a rule which says that if an SNP politician wants to vote with their conscience, they have to get approval from the group to do so.

What exactly does the First Minister believe he is doing when he is telling one of his politicians that he can’t stand up for what his constituency is asking of him? Perhaps when Mairi McAllan was referring to Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Un when she said world leaders were lining up to ask the Scottish Government for advice.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.

The Herald: Fergus EwingFergus Ewing (Image: Newsquest)

Who would give a contract to FMEL?

I’M constantly bemused by your correspondents’ repeated assertions that the failures on the ferries’ contract is solely the responsibility of the SNP (Letters, February 29). As I’ve pointed out before the Government is responsible for overseeing the financing of the project whilst procuring the build is down to CMAL as the contracting authority.

It in turn recommended FMEL as the preferred bidder to the Scottish Government. The SNP should have no input to this aspect of the process and if CMAL claims otherwise then it is incumbent on it to provide the evidence to back up any such allegation.

The idea that changing governments will somehow prevent future failures is laughable. It’s a bit like borrowing £250,000 from a bank to build a house, only for it to end up costing £400,000 due to failures in its design, specification and construction. The belief that changing banks prior to building the next house will remedy these problems ignores the root cause of the problem: the contractor.

Despite that we have had Neil Bibby, the shadow transport minister, saying in parliament during previous debates on the matter that Labour will make sure that FMPG win some of the future ferry contracts if it is returned to power at Holyrood. Unfortunately this would be illegal not only under the current procurement regulations, but also under the Internal Market Bill.

Meanwhile four ferries are being built to time and budget in a Turkish yard in what must be seen as a further embarrassment to the workforce in Port Glasgow, where yet more delay and expense is now being announced due to what the chief executive of the yard describes as "legacy issues and design and construction errors in the early stages" - ie, before it was nationalised. Who in their right mind would award a commercial shipbuilding contract to this yard?

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.

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Dangerous semantics

WE watch nightly reports of massacres in Israel's war on Gaza (at least 100 Palestinian victims a day on average, who really knows?) and we listen to the UK Prime Minister talking about British humanitarian aid "getting into Gaza" for those suffering.

But Rishi Sunak must know that's nonsense. Life-saving medical and food supplies are being blocked at border crossings, often by illegal Israeli settlers.

Good neighbour Jordan is now resorting to airdrops into the sea off Gaza. But this week Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers as they tried to retrieve some parcels of aid.

Mr Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer (I refuse to recognise the "Sir") still won't accept Scotland First Minister Humza Yousaf's call made months ago for an immediate ceasefire, instead insisting on "a humanitarian pause" or "sustainable ceasefire".

Semantics I don't think matter when you are being shot at, shelled, or starved.

Andy Stenton, Glasgow.