IF the First Minister is genuinely serious about eradicating the curse of child poverty once and for all, he needs to address the basics.

Poor housing touches on many aspects of our national life: health threatened by overcrowded and insanitary homes; education retarded when children have no room in which to do homework, or arrive tired at school after sleeping in a room with several others; marriages broken up through the strain making do in cramped and uncomfortable quarters. A home of the right size and in the right place and at the right rent is everybody’s first need. Less would need to be spent on the other social services if housing conditions were drastically improved.

Those are not my words. They are the words of Enoch Powell, written for the first One Nation Group publication in 1950. They could have been written yesterday.

Significantly, Powell does not conceive of housing as a right, but as a need. Perhaps if Holyrood’s politicians had wasted less time and money legislating for the rights of the few, they might have “relentlessly focused” their time and our money on the needs of the many.

From the all-too-empirical evidence of the last ten years, it’s no surprise that between 58 and 62 per cent of Scots have little to no confidence in the SNP to make the right decisions on the things that matter: the economy, health service, schools, police and climate change.

But if they can manage only one thing it needs to be the building of more houses. Just build the bloody houses, John.
Graeme Arnott, Stewarton.


Read more: Labour to make new attempt to declare housing emergency

Scottish Budget: £200m cut to housing condemned amid homeless crisis

SNP risks fuelling far-right with its failure to tackle housing crisis


One crisis after another
LAST week, the SNP government announced a “housing crisis”. This followed a “prisons crisis”.  We know there is a NHS crisis, we know there is a police crisis, we know education is in crisis, and there is a crisis at Ferguson Marine.
The SNP has been in power for seventeen years and Scotland is a place of political crisis. Why they get support beats me. 
Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire.

Where was the ‘duty of candour’?
THE astounding sense of arrogance and cover-up evident from the report into the infected blood scandal shames us all. Lord David Owen’s recollections this week are powerful proof of this. 

He was Labour’s health minister in early 1975 when he announced a policy of self-sufficiency in blood products. The aim was to end the reliance on imported blood products which ran the risk of having come from paid but dubious donors in other countries – including ‘skid row’ in America.

As Owen now tells us, he set aside funds and was assured that self-sufficiency could be achieved within three years. His words are worth quoting in full: “After I was moved to the Foreign Office in 1976 I never learnt until the 1980s that that policy had, in effect, been abandoned by which time many, many more people had been infected with not just hepatitis but with the HIV virus which led to AIDs”.

It is chilling, to say the least, that unelected figures took it upon themselves to drop the policy. The report has called for a ‘duty of candour’. What a pity it was not in operation all those years ago.
D. Macdonald, Glasgow.


Long-standing resentment
I VENTURE to disagree with Peter Dryburgh’s letter (‘Time to secede from this comparison’, May 21) and in particular that “neither country was some discontented region.” Norway gained its independence from Sweden only in 1905, having been a vassal state of Denmark until 1814.

Having worked in Sweden for some time and also often visited Norway, I suspect there is, even today an undercurrent of resentment on both sides. The fact that neutral Sweden allowed free passage of iron ore to Nazi Germany during the last war still irks the Norwegians. On the other hand Sweden, after so many years more affluent than Norway, are more than miffed that Norway has overtaken them in so many ways due to the huge influx of cash due to North Sea oil.

There is the old standing joke that works more for the Norwegians than the Swedes: A Norwegian asks you if you know how to help a Swede who may be drowning. If you say “No”, the reply is “Good, would you care for a beer?”
Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.


The Michael Matheson affair
MICHAEL Matheson is reportedly likely to be banned from Holyrood for 10 days as punishment for making a false expenses claim which was really an attempt to defraud the taxpayer, and for breaching the MSP’s code of conduct. He has already absented himself from Holyrood for six weeks taking no part in remote voting during that period. This is nothing but a blatant exercise in support for an offender who in the real world would have been dealt with more severely.
The data roaming bill of £11,000 was racked up by Matheson’s sons using his iPad to watch football. And still we are asked to believe that he wasn’t watching the football and that he didn’t know his sons were.
Ian Balloch, Grangemouth.


New faces, same old attitudes
THE new team in Holyrood are, they say, going to make ‘improving the economy’ their prime goal. Seriously? This pair were in government whilst mad-cap, ideological, illogical policies were promoted by the SNP and Greens whilst Nicola Sturgeon, Humza Yousaf and Patrick Harvie had their hands on the tiller.

This Swinney-Forbes partnership are the same people they’ve always been: one couldn’t shout loud enough in support and the other stuck her head in the sand. This is illogical – another case of repetition and expecting different results. They are sticks of SNP Indy rock. No-one should expect sensible policies from ideologues. 

They are as guilty as those they supported for the disastrous state of Scotland’s economy and the services on which many depend. So to suggest there’s been some sort of Damascene conversion is worse than laughable. It is a downright travesty by the media to give them any measure of succour. They should be drummed out of office for being part of a cult. as should the entire band of SNP/Green lunatics down at the Holyrood asylum.
Stan Hogarth, Strathaven.


Sturgeon is like Banquo’s ghost
I AGREE entirely with Richard Allison’s observations (‘Sturgeon cannot escape blame’, May 20) regarding the reinvention of Nicola Sturgeon. Like Mr Allison I thought that Lucifer had recalled her to hell to torment the damned, but she keeps bouncing back into plain sight whether at SNP  ‘coronations’ or book festivals or interviews with her new “bestie”, Val McDermid, teasing us with the content of her forthcoming memoirs (that’s assuming she can recall most of them).

However, her resurfacing maybe even more invidious and sinister than Mr Allison suggests. Rather like Banquo’s ghost she continues to haunt Holyrood. You see John Swinney, but you hear Nicola Sturgeon, and it really is quite unsettling.

Mr Swinney and his predecessor were forced on us as “Continuity Candidates” as if this was a good thing. The reality is that under SNP governance Scotland has deteriorated into what can only be described as a banana republic (you know: “a small poor country, often reliant on a single export or limited resource governed by an authoritarian regime and characterised by corruption and economic exploitation by foreign corporations)

With independence “continuity” would imply we continue to decline further to “failed state” status which is hardly a great starting point from which to borrow in the financial markets or rejoin the EU. Whoever governs Scotland next needs to focus on the populations’ immediate needs, starting with a number of “quick wins” to establish credibility rather than fanciful aspirations doomed to fail thus leading to apathy and a continuing deterioration of national pride. We need a leader.
Keith Swinley, Ayr.


Lessons learned
WHAT lessons should the SNP learn from their time in government? First up is to stop listening to Tory proposals at intergovernmental meet-ups.

Gender legislation proposed by Theresa May, then dumped; deposit return scheme announced in 2018, then delayed; police to stop investigating low-level crime; prisons to release low-grade prisoners early.

All these Westminster plans (and others) were copied by the Scottish government, leading to the reputational damage of the SNP. Today we hear that the police in England are being told to make “fewer arrests” because England’s prisons are full. John Swinney should order his Cabinet colleagues to ignore this news, and what appear to be other intergovernmental scams.
GR Weir, Ochiltree.