RECENTLY The Herald has been giving a lot of attention to the possible closure of Ferguson Marine and to re-awarding the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service (CHFS) operating contract ("Ministers urged to back shipyard amid warning on future orders", The Herald, May 17). Anything other than it being wrongly awarded to CalMac will take the new SNP Swinney/Forbes Government straight into an industrial relations direct head-on conflict with the unions, which also coincidently now run the recently nationalised trains. The inevitable disruption is easily predictable, and it is hard to see John Swinney et al winning that battle.

On the political front, the Inverclyde Council is in "no overall control" but the administration has been managed by the minority Labour Group since 2007, in other words since the SNP seized control in Holyrood. It has often been pointed out that the current cost of the two currently, as yet undelivered, Ferguson ferries (£400m) is an expensive way of protecting 200 jobs and both politically and economically unsustainable.

At some point someone is going to have to make the decision which the SNP has been avoiding for the entire duration of its 17 years' tenure in Holyrood, and it involves a lot more than just the future of Fergusons. It involves the unworkable tripartite of CalMac, CMAL, and Transport Scotland, and the Scottish Cabinet and the amalgamation of some or all of the failed tripartite structure. Consecutive Transport Secretaries, including the present incumbent, Fiona Hyslop, refuse to address this necessary operational restructure. Also, the present ubiquitous west coast ferry set-up pretends to address the needs of all sections but doesn't, while the obvious alternative known as "debundling" of the contract is another consistent "no-go area" for the Cabinet Transport Secretary.

If it (the SNP) can’t run an efficient vital ferry service in Scotland's magnificent, necessary, and much-admired archipelago after its 17 years, how does it ever hope to run a nation?

Being obsessed with Ferguson Marine alone is tinkering at the edges of a far more economically significant, wide-ranging problem. When will the SNP get that?

Neil Arthur, Kilpatrick, Isle of Arran.

• RATHER than continuing to subsidise Ferguson Marine at the Scottish taxpayers’ expense, I suspect that it would be cheaper in the long run for the Scottish Government to give every employee £1 million The total cost would be just over £300m: a small price to pay when you consider how much is being is being wasted every day by the current Government.

Alan McGibbon, Paisley.

A failure to back the islands

ENOUGH is enough. Your reporting of the escalating problems of CalMac ferries is yet another indication of the failure of this SNP Government to support the islands economy.

Will it be possible for the new First Minister in his promise to "dedicate every fibre of of my being to economic growth" to sort out this mess and include the islands in his great vision?

Will he stop the stupidity of awarding CalMac an uncontested contract and will he abolish the incompetent CMAL/CalMac/David MacBrayne throttle-hold on good economic management and businesslike common sense?

Will he continue his Government's concentration on the Central Belt or will he lift his eyes beyond its confines to those abandoned citizens?

Or will he continue to support quangos that are destroying the income and jobs of hard-working but frustrated islanders?

It is time for change but it is looking like John Swinney will give us continuity and all the pain and hurt that it involves.

Oh, and will the deputy leader, Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch also support the many islanders that she represents? Oops. Sorry. Skye has a bridge.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

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The British Scottish cringe

WILLIAM Loneskie (Letters, May 17) has to go back several generations to find suitable “British” Scots, when the real cringers are generations of “Scottish” British nationalist politicians who allowed the asset-stripping of Scotland in the 20th century, industry by industry, until we have virtually no indigenous industrial base left. But we should examine the Scots Mr Loneskie quoted and what relevance they have today.

Fleming's penicillin was an absolute boon, given freely to humanity: but now, starting with Labour's “market testing” in England, the drive in the UK (Scotland could not stand alone) is for increasingly privatised medical care.

Watson-Watt and his radar? Scotland gets such a poor deal from UK defence/procurement spending that Whitehall stopped publishing specific figures some years ago.

Logie Baird and TV. Look at the rotten funding deal Scotland gets from the BBC licence fee. Why doesn’t Scotland get the same per capita funding as England and Wales?

It was of course fervent British nationalists who attempted to destroy the speaking of Gaelic (and Scots) and curtail the teaching of Scottish history and culture to our children. Gaelic signage was introduced by Labour in 2001, and if I recall correctly it was a Tory councillor in Argyll who campaigned for it for years, before Sir Iain Noble used the model of the Faroe Islands economic regeneration (via language revival) to champion Gaelic.

Scots fought for generations for Home Rule before being fobbed off by “devolution”, a trick which has robbed us of any pretence of autonomy/sovereignty in law, education or anything else, as our democratic choices in any and all matters can be dismantled by the autocratic stroke of a Westminster pen, quoting the imperialist Scotland Act.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Resist the corporate anarchy

I NOTE a dramatic headline thanks to the Scottish Property Federation (SPF) warning of potential losses of £4.5bn in investment and 17,000 construction jobs if the Scottish Government persists in regulating the rental property market ("Scotland to ‘miss out on £4.5bn for housing’", The Herald, May 15).

Let's be clear: the SPF represents the interests of private property ownership and investment. And the article makes clear that private rents in the last year have increased by an average of 13%. So the SPF wants the freedom to jack up rents even further without any controls? The rental cap appears to be ineffective, no-fault evictions continue and the SPF wants greater freedom to inflict even more misery?

The article suggests the "pension businesses wanting to invest" are not home-based. Has the Common Weal not very recently exposed the fact that much external investment does no good to Scotland but merely exports profits and dividends?

Of course there is a housing emergency, it has been brewing for years and the Government decision to make it massively worse by lopping nearly £200 million was despicable and nonsensical. But houses should be built for housing associations and Social Bite Villages, not for the profit of speculators elsewhere. Houses for people, not profit.

There is a common thread here. Scotland's tourism sector has warned of "irreversible damage" if the short-term holiday let market is regulated. Further back, the Scotch Whisky Association was predicting apocalypse if minimum unit pricing was introduced. Further back still, business organisations claimed the end of the world was nigh if a minimum wage was introduced. Business interests concocting dramatic headlines to exert pressure on government ministers.

The Scottish Government, of course, needs to foster and support business. It also needs to regulate it in the interests of wider society. Remember 2008 when a lack of regulation and weak political leadership allowed the unprincipled and the immoral to destroy the economy and the finances of so many ordinary families. We are close again to this state of corporate anarchy. The Scottish Government has shown in the past that it has the right instincts of protecting those in our community who need support. Loud lobbyists with wild claims need to be questioned, not pandered to. And Scotland's media could do a better job of looking behind the sound bites and questioning the basis.

Sandy Slater, Stirling.

No logic to council tax plan

YET again we have another letter from someone calling for the re-evaluation of properties for the purpose of raising more council tax (May 17).

It has always been my belief that the percentage difference in the value of properties in the different council tax bands will be proportionately much the same as it was when the scheme was first established.

Alasdair Sampson seems to think it fair to increase the council tax for people who have spent money on home improvements. I disagree.

Someone might spend a very large chunk of their savings on home improvements but those home improvements do not increase that person’s income. A retired person’s income is fixed and just because they have spent hard-earned savings on home improvements does not mean that they can afford to pay increased council tax. The cost of home improvements is a one-off payment from savings whereas the council tax is an ongoing expense paid for out of one’s monthly income.

There is no logical argument for increasing taxation in this case.

David Clark, Tarbolton.

The Herald: Should people who carry our home improvements be expected to pay more council tax?Should people who carry our home improvements be expected to pay more council tax? (Image: PA)

Don't give in to Hamas

WE have all negotiated at some time, most likely starting with our parents over bedtime or something like that. Most of us have had to try to negotiate with dodgy tradesmen or some other sort of chancers. But none of us has had to deal with callous religious fanatics bent on our destruction, which is the situation facing Israel.

Hamas has been holding been holding one Israeli, Avera Mengistu, since 2014, and another, Hisham al-Sayed, since 2015. Yahya Sinwar and the other key terrorists in Hamas do not intend to yield up the remaining hostages in exchange for released prisoners, benefits for the people of Gaza, peace even.

No, their intention is to keep Israel on the hook indefinitely. Hamas has been absolutely consistent in its disregard for the Geneva Conventions, all international law and the best interests of the Palestinians.

Western leaders should not be pressuring Israel to agree a ceasefire with Hamas, as any terms Hamas agrees to will be so one-sided as to be a defeat for Israel. On the contrary, the West should give the people of Israel our fullest support in this war against these monsters.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates.

Classroom secrets

PRESUMABLY parents who propose to withdraw their children from sex education lessons may rest assured that those who attend will be under strict instructions not to reveal anything they learn in the course of such lessons to fellow pupils who did not attend.

Robin Dow, Rothesay.

Location vocation

I WONDER why broadcast reporters must appear at the location of the subject of their report?

So, we have someone outside 10 Downing Street or the Scottish Parliament building and another standing in the rain reporting on storm damage or floods or at factory gates or the scene of an accident.

Not only does it add little, it must incur significant travel costs (including those of the cameraman and crew) and, of course, adds to the carbon footprint.

Keith Swinley, Ayr.