RECENT political manoeuvering would lead some to believe that the recent decline in the UK's prosperity, social cohesion, and relative standard of living only happened since Covid-19. In fact, it has been a long process, over more than a century, and in that time we have had successive Liberal, Tory and Labour governments, yet the decline has been relentless.

The start of the terminal stage was Thatcher's government: the destruction of our manufacturing base in favour of a so-called service economy, then the liberalisation of the stock market and the Big Bang in the 1980s, which in turn inevitably led to Labour's banking catastrophe of 2008. Since 2010 austerity, Brexit, Boris, Liz, and Rishi have finished the job. It appears that some people think more of the same will solve everything.

At the heart of the problem is first-past-the-post elections, which have historically led to violent swings of the political pendulum, until now that is. Sir Keir Starmer wants to stop the pendulum swinging it seems, so that we can have a period of stasis perhaps, in which at least our vital services do not decline any further.

The Tories should welcome him; five years of Labour will pave the way for more of the same and their inevitable return, probably with renewed vigour. The answer for the UK is clear: introduce proportional voting. The answer for Scotland is even clearer: get off the sinking ship.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

What change will there be?

IT is interesting to note that Scots haven't voted for a Tory government in a General Election since 1955; that is 69 years ago, although we have had a Tory government for two-thirds of that time. The Scots who voted at that time would now be 90 years old at least, as the voters had to be 21 in order to cast their vote then.

The Labour Party meanwhile is advocating change. Of what? It wants Brexit, the two-child benefit cap, further finance for Trident, continuing issuing of oil licences and exporting arms to Israel. What does it intend to change?

Margaret Pennycook, Glasgow.

SNP tactics show its weakness

JOHN Swinney has invested much time and energy in claiming that the "wishes of the Scottish people are pretty clear" on secession. The results of the 2021 Holyrood election are evidence, he says, of that, having returned a majority of MSPs who support another referendum and secession.

Mr Swinney forgets two important points. First, Holyrood has no locus in constitutional affairs, which are reserved. It is not part of the remit of MSPs to debate or vote on them. Second, his predecessor as First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, stated unambiguously before the vote in 2021 that a vote for the SNP was not a vote for secession, and when asked for whom people should vote if they liked the SNP but did not want to leave the UK, she said "they should vote for me".

Trying to make the 2024 General Election a vote on the constitutional question is specious. A General Election is about a whole range of issues: the clue is in the name. It is "pretty clear" that the constitutional question is far from the most important issue for Scots in this election; it rates about seventh in people’s list of priorities in recent polls.

After 17 years of SNP failure and broken promises, Mr Swinney’s emphasis on the constitution at this time is a clear indication of the emptiness of the SNP’s offer to Scottish voters.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

READ MORE: Shouldn't line one, page one have been how much indy would cost?

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Chickens coming home to roost

FOR many years we have had a succession of first ministers and administrations in Scotland entirely focused on things outside their remit. There have been uninvited trips to international conferences attended by huge entourages. Eye-watering sums of money have been invested in ''prestige'' projects or sent to a cause favoured by a First Minister where the UK has the responsibility for aid. Tax revenue-devouring ''fake embassies'' have been opened in various countries and countless unnecessary overseas jollies have proliferated and there has been an influx of special advisers in numbers that that would embarrass the president of the US. SNP First Ministers have all had one thing in common: Ben Nevis-sized egos.

Throughout their period in office they have assumed they were running a separated country, with all that entails, not, within a shaky coalition, a devolved region of the UK Meanwhile our NHS is starved of funds; our drug deaths remain well clear at the top of the European, if not world, league table; our major roads are not improved despite being promised; the list is never-ending. These matters have been considered irrelevant to the greater cause and left to rot on the vine by the SNP.

But it seems at last Scottish chickens are coming home to roost and the SNP will pay dearly for what it has done to our country on July 4.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

IFS comments are misguided

DAVID Phillips of the Institute for Fiscal Studies states that the SNP is ignoring big "fiscal challenges" ("Swinney accused of ignoring financial challenges", The Herald, June 20) but, like other commentators on Scottish independence, the IFS ignores the fact that no independent commission has ever been established to determine the proper division of assets, liabilities, duties and obligations between England and Scotland nor, indeed, the exact constitutional position of Scotland.

It is tragic that such an analysis has never been undertaken. What should be a matter of serious discussion has been reduced to a sequence of conflicting statements by economists of various cults, each pronouncement being delivered with the assured confidence so often associated with party loyalty or mendacity. Confusion is compounded by the naive belief that information provided by the Treasury or other Whitehall departments must be unbiased and completely reliable.

The situation is made even worse by the fact that most of the information about important constitutional matters is provided to the public by the parochial London newspapers owned by expats and oligarchs. The BBC struggles to provide a balanced view but often fails.

Dr PM Dryburgh, Edinburgh.

• THE SNP has previously made use of analysis carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies to criticise a number of plans set out on behalf of the Labour Party. The institute is regarded by many as being the UK’s leading independent economics research institute and is recognised as a global centre of excellence. John Swinney has clearly been content to take on board without much hesitation material produced by the institute critical of proposals publicised on behalf of the Labour Party during the run-up to the General Election. The institute has now come forward with criticisms of the SNP manifesto directed at not only failure to have regard to the adverse economic impact from leaving the UK, but also at a number of the calculations contained in the manifesto.

One is left wondering what "Honest John" will now make of the standing of the renowned institute, given that it has had the temerity to point out a number of SNP shortcomings in its manifesto.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

Change the system

NEIL Mackay ("This vindictive policy sickens me", The Herald, June 20) makes valid criticism of the two-child benefit cap. However the real problem is that the system for supporting the poor and others who need assistance from the state is not fit for purpose. Rather than remove the two-child benefit cap we need a new system, which might, or might not, result in a removal of more than just a benefit cap based on the number of children.

Sandy Gemmill, Edinburgh.

Work together on fuel poverty

IT is concerning that poverty is still very much a part of real life in this day and age; one in four working age people die in poverty at the end of life every year in Scotland, one in three in areas of deprivation, and one in eight pensioners.

Terminally ill people are already at heightened risk of experiencing fuel poverty in particular, as their symptoms often make them feel colder and they spend more time at home with the heating on all year round as their condition deteriorates.

The "double burden" of income loss and increased costs brought on by a terminal illness, including increased energy bills, leave people struggling to make ends meet, and force those who were already on the threshold below the poverty line, especially terminally ill people with dependent children.

The SNP’s General Election manifesto calls for "a statutory social tariff for all who need one". This could work towards addressing fuel poverty at the end of life, but will require urgent systematic reform from UK and Scottish governments to implement it effectively. We need immediate action to ensure that terminally ill people, their families and carers are not faced with unprecedented financial hardship in the final years, months, weeks, days and hours of their lives.

Ellie Wagstaff, Senior Policy Manager, Marie Curie Scotland, Edinburgh.

Fuel poverty is still a fact of life for many, especially the elderlyFuel poverty is still a fact of life for many, especially the elderly (Image: Getty)

Evidence that UK is jiggered

AS is often my habit I am currently on the Greek island of Kefalonia for a week of sun, sea and scuba diving. At 33C It’s a little too hot here today but I’ll soldier on.

As we all consider how we might cast our votes very soon here’s a wee story from an old (78) fellow diver before we went out this morning.

“Derek" (not his real name) is English and has dodgy views about things like Brexit. He also suffers from a bad back.

Today the dive master made a phone call to the hospital in Argostoli, the island’s main town with a native population of 13,666. Derek is getting an MRI scan tomorrow for €240.

My wife very recently spent five unnecessary nights in hospital in Paisley after an emergency admission waiting to access the one MRI machine the hospital possesses.

The UK is jiggered. I rest my case.

Peter Broughan, Gartocharn.

Get tough on protesters

JUST Stop Oil protestors sprayed Stonehenge orange on the eve of the summer solstice. Out of more than 20 eco-groups Just Stop Oil is by far the most active and diverting the police from their day job of preventing and solving crime.

The public has been badly let down by politicians, chief constables and the judiciary who fail to make the punishment fit the crime. Any political party which pledges to declare Just Stop Oil and other eco-organisations prohibited organisations and instruct the judiciary to impose lengthy jail sentences will get my vote and that of millions of others fed up with the softly softly approach.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.