LIKE many folks I am in a complete quandary over who to vote for this week. However, despite “losing my timing this late in my career”, I am determined to cast my vote.

I am probably a stereotypical Conservative voter but, given the depths of moral depravity to which they have stooped of late, and their inability to govern with any degree of competence, I cannot even bring myself to pinch my nose and swallow my medicine in the hope that things will get better

As I dread the thought of independence and fear the SNP, that leaves Labour, which doesn’t really help me reach a decision because it is quite difficult to identify what Sir Keir Starmer will do that’s so different from the current occupant of Downing Street.

Their televised “debates” therefore have just become popularity contests…who do you like the most?

Turning to the BBC for help, I have followed their reports from around the country to see what the people want.

So as well as identifying the big issues on which we are mostly agreed (NHS, cost of living, etc etc ) we hear from wild swimmers ploughing through sewage and taxi drivers complaining about the state of the roads.

What is troubling about the two main parties is that they fear defeat so much that they decline to address the magnitude the challenges we face, and the smallness of our politics means that they are both afflicted by a chronic avoidance of tough decisions and a seeming inability to build a consensus to tackle the big issues. They fear that anything “disruptive” will cost them votes.

So it may be that my choice of where to put my cross in the box may be driven by the respective parties’ policies on poo, potholes and personalities. Meanwhile, Rome continues to smoulder.
Keith Swinley, Ayr.


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Indy dream was a blip like Culloden
AS we enter these final stages before the general election the party leaders must be on edge about the outcome. No more so than the SNP. Forecasts suggest that they could lose as many as 26 of the 43 seats currently held by them in the House of Commons.

So much for the efforts of Salmond, Sturgeon and now, for a second time, Swinney in their quest for ‘independence’.

Their call to the electorate for such was rejected by the Scottish voters in 2014 when the SNP staged a referendum on the matter. It is certain that their quest for such a cause will be a blip in the history books like the Battle of Culloden. In this modern age we need consolidation – not division.
Robert I G Scott, Ceres, Fife.

* IT is ironic that Ailar Hashemzadeh, Director,  Alcohol Change UK, London alerts us to  July 1 to 7 being Alcohol Awareness Week and that “With the general election upon us, the next government has the power to help end the harms caused by alcohol” (letters, June 28). After all, in Scotland the SNP has spent 17 years driving us into that Devil’s arms.
Peter Wright, West Kilbride, Ayrshire.

*b WERE Norway to distribute its wealth fund every citizen would be a millionaire. James Quinn, (letters June 29) reminds us that we are a few bawbees less poor than our neighbours and concludes that “Scotland undoubtedly benefits from being part of the UK”. Really?
Alan Carmichael, Glasgow.

* I READ Ken Mackay’s letter (June 28) with interest and in particular “we earn and deserve the Barnett Formula”.

My understanding is that it was to recognise the remoteness and geographic difficulties of Scotland, although only an element of the country has elements of isolation. To a Welsh hill-farmer in mid-Wales, anyone living on the Cumbria coast, farmers on Dartmoor or the Yorkshire Dales, it must seem odd that the formula applies equally to such “remote” places as Glasgow and Edinburgh as to the Highlands and Islands.
Mike Flinn, West Kilbride.


Environmentalists on paper only
I HAVE received one or two election leaflets from each of the parties that have candidates in my constituency except for one. I have received no fewer than eight from the Lib Dems, the incumbents, who are well known for pushing the environmental agenda. They obviously don’t care about trees.
Geoff Moore, Alness.


Make our NHS the top priority
FOLLOWING a successful hip replacement procedure I had recourse to visit A&E in Paisley’s Royal Alexandria hospital with something that fortunately turned out to be a false alarm.
I returned home humbled by the experience.

Every member of staff had shown great kindness, consideration and caring in an extremely busy department and to all patients. Why has our NHS been allowed to run down? This should be the top priority in every party’s agenda.
Margo Wilson, Dumbarton.


Time now to give youth a chance
I’VE been suffering for the last few weeks watching the various parties’ top people being trotted out to convince us they know what they’re doing which they clearly don’t. And then I watched the sad figure of Joe Biden stumbling over his words in his debate last week, clearly in a different world. I’m going to have a chat with my ten-year-old grandson and see if he fancies a shot, he couldn’t be much worse than this shower.
Michael Watson, Rutherglen.

Extent of inward investment
WITH his reference to “fake embassies” Alexander McKay (letters, June 29) is obviously oblivious to the fact that thanks to the Scottish Government’s overseas offices, Scotland continually has the highest foreign direct inward investment after London and the South East.

Despite 14 years of Westminster cuts, the SNP’s record in government is much better than in Labour-run Wales and stands up well in comparison with the last Labour/LibDem Scottish Executive that lumbered our health boards and local councils with the ongoing horrendous PFI method of finance to build schools and hospitals.

In the case of Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, about £1.1billion in PFI repayments will have been paid out to the operator Consort by the time the contract expires in 2027.  Even then, NHS Lothian will need to enter a secondary contract period, potentially lasting until 2053, where it will continue to pay a “management charge” to Consort.

The whole Labour manifesto is based on hopeful economic growth that will not happen as Labour supports Brexit, which the Office of Budget Responsibility estimates will cause a four per cent long-term hit to UK GDP growth plus a 15 percent reduction in UK trade, and will mean continued austerity.  

Unlike Labour, the SNP is proposing real change by increasing UK taxation to properly fund the NHS plus targeted lower energy bills rather than the GB Energy confidence trick, which hopes to rely on private investment rather than being a state owned company that can actually influence our fuel bills.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

Thatcher’s impact is still being felt
ALEXANDER McKay (‘How can FM  blame Thatcher when she left office in 1990?’, letters, June  29) is correct.

Margaret Thatcher played no part in ferry purchases, nor did she have a role in the vast cost overruns/delays for HS2, or the Ajax military vehicle fiasco, or the fact that the refit to HMS Vanguard took longer than it did to build the original boat and cost more than double the budget. 

What Thatcher did do that resonates to this day was, by selling off social housing cheap, she destroyed a council housing strategy that worked well for the provision of houses for (a reasonable) rent. 

My memory has it that Scottish Tories begged Thatcher, on a rare visit to Scotland, for investment specifically for the A9. She laughingly refused, claiming that northern roads were “superb”. 

Thatcher also closed down whole industries across northern England, Scotland and Wales, reducing entire communities to impoverishment and despair. Drug-pushers moved into the void and this has consequences to this day. 

Thatcher, via revenues from North sea oil and gas, had an opportunity to invest in the whole of the UK, but she did not, preferring to skew government investment to the south of England. 

Curiously Mr McKay also references in his letter the Fife engineering firm Bifab. 
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a Fife MP, could easily have given grants and incentives for offshore construction investment to benefit Bifab, but he preferred to aim that government stimulus to the east coast of England (Hull in particular).
GR Weir, Ochiltree.