NOW we know what happened. Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister ended in 1990 and she died in 2013. Yet John Swinney has blamed her for the mess in which Scotland now finds itself in 2024 (‘Swinney: Scotland is still suffering from Margaret Thatcher era’, June 27).

It must have been the spirit of the Iron Lady that induced the ferries fiasco – perhaps by undue influence on the ministers who made the catastrophically wrong decisions. 

She must also have forced the then First Minister to sign up to the Bifab disaster, and somehow prevent the A9 being dualled. Did she also exert spiritual pressure on SNP ministers to leave hundreds of millions of EU money allocated to Scotland unspent? Did she force fake embassies upon us at horrendous cost? 

Whatever else she did, she is still eternally active and living in the minds of even the present SNP leaders. If the SNP get hammered on Thursday, will that be all her fault also? 
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


Only the gullible will be fooled
ON unveiling his party’s manifesto, John Swinney stated that “independence can deliver a stronger economy and happier, healthy lives”.

“Can deliver”! That is a mighty big guarantee and, given the track record of the past ten years of SNP governance, who would possibly fall for that assurance?

It’s an SNP trait to over-promise and under-deliver and here we are again. With no economics, no finances, no defence facts to back up his claims, only the gullible will fall for such a desperate claim. 

It’s time to give this inept regime the boot.
Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire.


Give us a say in the PM’s honours list
THE election draws nigh and we wait in trepidation at what awaits us. What really worries me is the outgoing PM’s honours list and in this respect, the general public should be able to have their say and we don’t need has-been MPs being honoured and elevated to the peerage.
Steve Barnet, Gargunnock.


Scotland benefits from the UK
KEN Mackay (letters, June 28) gives further evidence of nationalist supporters’ blinkered acceptance of independence propaganda and of the inconsistency of their arguments.

In stating that Scotland is “a cash cow to Westminster”, Mr Mackay ignores publicly available data from the SNP Government which, for decades, has directly contradicted that assertion.

He then, paradoxically, continues by defending the Barnett Formula which actually delivers higher public spending in Scotland as a result of the annual fiscal transfer from Westminster which in 2022-23 was £19 billion. The effect of this is that, in that year, public spending per person in Scotland was £14,456 whereas in England it was only £12,227. Scotland undoubtedly benefits from being part of the UK.

Like many independence supporters, Mr Mackay has become a victim of separatist propagandists who repeatedly lie, making bold unsubstantiated statements that nationalist cult followers blindly accept.
James Quinn, Lanark.

* JILL Stephenson, (letters 28 June) suggests that independence supporters have no idea how to create a viable, let alone a prosperous state. I can only wonder where she been these last fifty years?
Alan Carmichael, Glasgow.


‘Mismanagement’ of NHS estate 
HELEN McArdle’s report (‘The ongoing bed crisis severely affecting an unravelling NHS in Scotland, June 27) illustrates perfectly the continuing gross mismanagement of the NHS estate in Scotland.

Coincidentally, only the day before, my cousin and I had been reminiscing about the time when, as young teenagers, we visited our aged First World War veteran grandfather in the Astley Ainslie community hospital in Edinburgh. I vividly remember wheeling him around the landscaped grounds – a scene of great peace and tranquility – in his last days.

The Astley Ainslie continued as a convalescent and rehabilitative unit for patients who were being moved on from a full clinical setting. Its purpose was to make space available for those in need of treatment at such hospitals as the city’s Royal Infirmary. 

Some years ago, however, Lothian NHS trust had the bright idea that it should be sold off for development, and the money raised used to upgrade the Royal Edinburgh Psychiatric Hospital nearby. The latter underwent a rampage of demolition and rebuilding in anticipation of revenues from the sale of the former, but it emerged that the money raised would be nowhere near enough for that purpose. 

Apart from other considerations, it seems that the number of expensive McMansions the proposed developer might fit onto the site was restricted due to the fact that many of the mature trees in the grounds were protected, and had been planted with the assistance of the Royal Botanic Gardens. 

The attempted sale of the Astley Ainslie was a fiasco. It has since been suspended, and the intention is to place it back on the market in 2025. 

It’s hard to say whether this is a case of stupidity, or cupidity, but given that the 200-bed Astley Ainslie, which is now largely abandoned, was designed to be a ‘bed-unblocking’ facility, it obviously has a critical role. It should be taken off the market and restored to its original purpose with immediate effect.
David J Black, Edinburgh.


The lasting power of the Establishment
ERIC Melvin hits the nail on the head in his letter (‘A trough of sleaze and corruption’, June 26) concerning who actually controls the UK. 

A cursory glance at the history of the UK clearly demonstrates that power actually lies in the hands of the Establishment and always has done. Things we take for granted such as the NHS, pensions, social care, the 40-hour working week and even our so-called democratic Parliament are things the common man had to fight for and were reluctantly conceded by the Establishment.

The simple fact that the distribution of wealth in the UK is so skewed that the top 1% has as much wealth as the bottom 70% demonstrates that there is no shortage of wealth – it's just unevenly distributed. 

That the UK has over a hundred billionaires sitting on piles of wealth that they can never spend, wealth that has been created by the general public working and spending, graphically illustrates that the current system is designed to perpetuate that state of affairs. 

The basic fact that the fiat currency we are compelled to use, one that has a subjective rather than actual value, is controlled by a privately-owned cartel and not by “the country” or its elected representatives again indicates who is in control. It’s a “house of cards” in which they will not give you anything tangible in exchange for paper money and can arbitrarily impose interest rate rises.

Decades, nay centuries, of supposed parliamentary democracy as practised at Westminster has done nothing to alter a system that takes what it wants from my wages before I actually get them, but allows the rich and their corporations to avoid paying their fair share and grants the City of London autonomy. There is and can be no shortage of the money needed to provide first-class public services but that can only happen if Westminster changes sides and starts working for us and not them.
David J Crawford, Anniesland, Glasgow. 


In defence of Faslane
THE one thing that may be said of Isobel Lindsay (letters, June 27) is that at least she is constant. For 50-odd years she has promoted the ideal that if only nuclear weapons could be removed from Scottish waters then Scotland could be safe.

Perhaps she has forgotten Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin’s plea to his colleagues, “not to send him naked into the conference hall.”

In those days only three countries had operational nuclear capability. Wake up and smell the coffee, Isobel. At the last count this number is now nine, with an estimated 9,000 missiles available.

It would seem that while her desire to rid the world of such weapons is commendable, it is completely unrealistic, the genie being truly out of the bottle. Her aim is to get Faslane closed and moved to any other region of the UK.

Her attitude appears to be like the courtesans at the court of Versailles – that is, “Enjoy the privileges but evade the responsibilities.” In other words, at the very least “Take that target off our backs” which just might be construed as reduce the chance of the annihilation of Biggar.

We are where we are, as the lawyers insist on telling us. Faslane was chosen, not for its predictable summer weather, rather, it is suggested, its closeness to immediate deep water into the North Atlantic, and also being able to safely store missiles close at hand.
Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.


The vast potential of rewilding
THE welcome from Ross Ewing of Scottish Land and Estates for the 400% increase in rural jobs created by rewilding across Scotland (letters, June 21) was good to see.

But for clarification, the research by Rewilding Britain revealing this remarkable surge in jobs was not, as Ross states, based on land we manage; we manage no land. Our analysis is of a varied sample of 13 large Scottish rewilding sites owned or managed by charities, communities, and private landowners.

These sites, between them covering almost 60,000 hectares, are all members of the Rewilding Network, which brings together a wide range of landholdings across Britain.

The 412% rise in jobs – and the accompanying boom in a variety of roles, from nature-based hospitality to ecology to education – shows how rewilding can turbocharge social and economic benefits for people, while offering hope for reversing biodiversity loss and tackling climate breakdown.

Since the former deer stalking estate of Dundreggan near Loch Ness was purchased by rewilding charity Trees for Life, for example, jobs have soared from one gamekeeper (a post which has been retained) before rewilding, to a diverse mix of 36 full-time equivalent jobs.

With calls growing for the Scottish Government to declare Scotland the world’s first Rewilding Nation, committing to nature recovery across 30% of land and sea, the choice and opportunity is huge – for jobs and local economies, health, food production, re-peopling, and access to clean water and air.

Ross Ewing also highlights the huge contribution private landowners can offer for large-scale nature recovery, and the potential to upscale action for restoring biodiversity, taking climate action, and ensuring community engagement. 

We hope that Scottish Land and Estates will urge its members to sign the Scottish Rewilding Alliance’s Rewilding Nation Charter at
Kevin Cumming, Rewilding Director, Rewilding Britain and Deputy Convenor, Scottish Rewilding Alliance, Coldingham, Berwickshire.