HUMZA Yousaf is right to point out that Scotland has suffered an estimated £1.6bn in lost taxes that could have been invested in our NHS because of a Brexit that people in Scotland overwhelmingly rejected ('Yousaf accused of failing to see parallels between Brexit and independence', March 12).

The Office for Budget Responsibility, Goldman Sachs, the Tony Blair Institute and the Centre for European Reform all estimate lost output at a minimum of 4% GDP due to Brexit.
This week the RBS’s latest purchasing managers’ index report showed that private sector employment growth in Scotland last month was faster than that in any other UK nation or region. Outside London and the South East, Scotland’s economy is the best performing in the UK, and Scotland outpaced both the UK and Europe on foreign investment in 2023.
The devolution fiscal straitjacket means that Holyrood has very limited revenue-raising powers outside income tax to counter UK austerity cuts of £1.3 billion to the Scottish Government’s capital budget while, according to the Fraser of Allander Institute, the Scottish block grant falls by 2.5% in real terms between 2023-24 and 2024-25.


Read more: Yousaf slated on independence as he condemns other parties on Brexit

Has Humza Yousaf's election campaign been shot in the foot?

Devolution 'under threat as never before' claims SNP minister


UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt gave the game away when he said that the biggest losers in his budget were non-doms and Scotland’s oil and gas industry while Canary Wharf in London’s financial district is receiving £242m in “levelling up” money.
Labour, having abandoned its £28 billion green energy investment, has signalled that the energy windfall tax will be spent on building expensive nuclear power plants in England rather than establishing a hydrogen manufacturing hub in Aberdeen or saving Scotland’s oil refinery at Grangemouth. 
Labour has signed up to Brexit, Tory fiscal rules, and welfare cuts not wealth taxes; no wonder Labour’s Treasury spokesperson, Pat McFadden, was criticised for his appearance on BBC Newsnight when he was unable to list any points of difference between Labour and the Tories’ economic plans.  
Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.


Sunak hugging Starmer? Don't count on it

THE Tory panic in the ranks is palpable. Lord Cameron, back in the fold, Lee Anderson joining Reform UK and the real cracker, Boris being forgiven and joining the electioneering fray. All in the futile hope that they can convince the British public they are capable of running the country.

A bit rich since they have spent most of the last thirteen years riven with angst, with more leaders than the average Premiership football club. Yes, they have been unlucky with both Covid and the war in Ukraine during their time in office, but neither have justified the continuing internal strife within the party.

To use a football analogy. Just look how successful both Liverpool and Manchester City have been in recent years. Mainly down to two managers who are excellent leaders. Also witness their mutually respectful hug after the Liverpool v Manchester City game on Sunday.

Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer in a mutual hug? Aye right.


Ian Smith, Troon. 


The UK needs a new political party

LEE Anderson’s defection to Reform UK is bound to be another hammer blow to the Tory party by driving the final nail into its electoral coffin.

His decision highlighted the disillusionment in the country with the prevalent political narrative pushed by the profiteers who see citizens as little more than cannon fodder at election time, as cogs in the economic wheel to be dispensed with once they have outlived their usefulness.

There is no doubt that Anderson will  appeal as the vox populi of little Englanders and his brusque dismissal of the Westminster press lobby will be welcomed in various quarters, where the audiences are disgusted by elected politicians who wriggle out of answering questions directly and in language that is straightforward  and which resonates with them. Lee Anderson hits that sweet point with many middle Englanders.

What the UK needs is a party which promises a political transformation where the emphasis is upon equal and fair treatment for all sections of the community so that no element feels neglected or left behind.

That can only come about when a party has the courage to address the failure of our elected representatives to pursue  a system centred on responsible capitalism - one in which everyone signs up to working in lock-step to ensure that the private sector works in harmony with the public sector, thus ensuring that we are all working to the same end.
Labour should have the courage to expound such  a programme instead of being fearful of the the bad press it it would receive by standing up for its principles.

If Labour could develop a backbone in this regard, there would be no platform available for people like Lee Anderson to peddle his little Englander propaganda. It would also consign the right-wing concentration upon low taxation and a small state to the dustbin of history.
Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


Lasting shame over drugs deaths

YEAR after year Scotland has been shamed by having the highest drug death rate in Europe and year after year we have heard the same old story from the SNP that they are working hard to tackle the problem.

The truth of the matter is that the SNP haven't got a clue what they are doing to solve this terrible loss of lives. If you speak to the people who actually work with drug addicts they confirm that little progress is being made in setting up drug rehabilitation schemes and finding an alternative to the failed methadone programme.

The SNP should be honest and admit their total inability to tackle Scotland's dreadful drug death rate and hang their heads in shame.     

Dennis Forbes Grattan, Bucksburn, Aberdeen.


Vote in order to preserve Scotland's rural economy

The SNP have introduced an Agriculture and Rural Communities Bill that offers little clarity to farmers and crofters on how future funding will operate.

The SNP have cut £78 million from the rural affairs budget in 2024-25. And. supported by the Greens, it voted through the excessive Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill at Stage 2 that will remove vital tools that farmers and land managers need to conserve wildlife and promote biodiversity.

In order to protect our rural economy, culture and way of life the SNP and the Green Party must be voted out in every corner of Scotland. 

Councillor Alastair Redman (Kintyre and the Islands ward), Port Charlotte, Isle of Islay, Argyll .


How about some balance when attributing blame?

REGULAR readers of Guy Stenhouse’s columns will have discerned that he has no love for the SNP government, which he chastises for a freeze on council tax.

In his latest column (‘Three cheers for Argyll & Bute Council not bowing to the SNP’s freeze’, March 9) he asks, “Is there anyone in Scotland who believes councils don’t need more money?” The uncomfortable truth is that one person who doesn’t believe this premise is Rishi Sunak, whose government has effectively bankrupted many English councils but receives neither credit or blame.

Mr Stenhouse would no doubt say that the Scottish government gets more money than England through the Barnett formula but 12 years of Tory austerity mean that we are getting 110% of less than we got 12 years ago. So, how about some balance when it comes to attributing blame ? 
Sam Craig, Glasgow.


Listen to the doctors
IT is time that Scottish lawmakers heed the medical community’s objection to assisted suicide. The 2,500 doctors who are backing a campaign to halt the Assisted Dying Bill encounter dying patients far more acutely than any other interest group – yet thus far in the assisted suicide conversation, their opinions have been overlooked.

Assisted suicide campaigners want MSPs to agree to it in principle first, and later work out the practice – yet the detail matters. The practicalities of assisting suicide are exactly why doctors are so concerned. Ingesting lethal drugs to end one’s life is not a straightforward process and cannot guarantee a peaceful death – the data from Oregon shows a high complication rate and some have re-awakened. These doctors want to care, not deliberately cause early death.

Licensing doctors to assist suicide erodes the doctor/patient relationship at the most vulnerable time in a person’s life. If this legislation proceeds, the Scottish government will not prioritise universal access to good quality, specialist palliative care to improve quality of life in the time left, but will divert NHS funds to shortening life.
The Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Crossbench Peer and former GP in Maryhill, Glasgow.