FOLLOWING the misguided path of Keith Howell (Letters, July 27) and other regular contributors to these pages, James Simpson and James Quinn (28 July) lambast Scottish Government spending on matters relating to independence while impugning its economic competence.

Attempting to support spurious claims that the SNP has a poor track record in government and has wasted taxpayers’ money, every subjectively estimated expenditure, from the individual travel expenses of ministers to the budget overrun on building two dual-fuel ferries, has been cited. Added to this perceived “waste” we now have the costs associated with the preparation of papers informing the Scottish public, at least half of which supports self-determination in principle, on matters relating to independence.

Most governments around the world can justifiably be accused, especially in retrospect, of not always having spent taxpayers' money wisely, but if we wish to be objective in our assessments then we need to make appropriate comparisons. A seemingly legitimate estimate of such “waste” by the Scottish Government over the last decade would in total amount to around £500 million, while estimated UK Government “waste” over the same period amounts to well over £100 billion, without including the colossal costs of the disastrous Liz Truss budget and currently projected HS2 overrun which together would triple this figure to £300bn. To put these figures into a pertinent perspective the UK Government has effectively “wasted” around several hundred (200 to 600) times more of UK taxpayers’ money, equivalent to up to 50 times more of Scottish taxpayers’ money, so if both governments are judged on economic prudence then the UK Government has a catastrophic record by comparison.

Perhaps if we are to have an honest debate about government spending across the UK this gross disparity could at least be acknowledged and if spending on informing the Scottish public on matters relating to independence is to be questioned perhaps those critics could add credibility to their arguments by also questioning the considerable cost of the Scotland Office, which has been turned into a “Union Propaganda Arm” of the UK Government.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

Read more: It is Westminster that is acting outwith the bounds of democracy

Follow the Civil Service Code

ALASDAIR Galloway (Letters, July 28) says I am “naïve”, and indeed there are many of my beliefs that might be arguably judged so. For example, it is arguably naïve of me to think the Scottish Government should work for everyone and focus on the genuine priorities of the day. Yet on the subject of what civil servants can and cannot do, I do not accept that I am naïve.

I am well aware that civil servants need to work enthusiastically in support of the government of the day without regard to their own personal views. However, that is not carte blanche for doing whatever they are asked to do, as the Civil Service Code is very clear that no civil servant should mislead anyone. That is the reason why they are not allowed to be involved with producing manifestos which so often drift into exaggeration and wishful thinking. Insiders involved in the production of the 2013 White Paper have revealed that when some of the numbers did not add up, they were simply made up, just as when realistic timescales did not look good, they were shortened to suit the preferred political narrative of the SNP leadership.

Meanwhile, Mike Wilson (also Letters, July 28) claimed that I and others who have the audacity to question this SNP Government’s actions, are “misanthropes”. I have never been called that before and so had to look up its meaning. The dictionary reveals it to be one of the most all-encompassing of insults, as it means someone “who hates or distrusts humankind”. Goodness, that is quite a way to portray those who do not agree with you. I think Mr Wilson might find that SNP spin doctors would prefer him to tone his language down a bit. Otherwise people might get the impression that the independent Scotland he wants us all to vote for might not be quite the open and welcoming utopia that the SNP’s “Building a New Scotland” papers suggest.

Keith Howell, West Linton.

No mandate for this spending

MIKE Wilson’s letter is as predictable as is Westminster’s stance on decisions taken by the SNP/Green Scottish Government to propose and enact legislation which is not only outwith the devolved remit of Holyrood but is also meaningfully and sufficiently out of step with the legislation of the other member states of the UK, of which we remain a part.

While the SNP Government may have taken the majority of seats at recent elections, it most certainly does not have a mandate to expend an inordinate amount of the Scottish taxpayers’ money pursuing a matter on which the Scottish electorate decided in 2014, a decision which has been ratified at the various elections since then, when, again, the majority of the Scottish electorate did not vote for the parties campaigning for independence from the UK.

The divisive, and skewed, mantra of many of those pursuing independence is that it’s always someone else’s fault and it’s high time that they, and the party they support, looked dispassionately at themselves, recognised their many mistakes and failings, which have not been the fault of any third party, moved away from their apparent policy of confrontation with Westminster, regardless of common sense, and got on with doing the day job properly to the benefit of all of Scotland. Perhaps if they did this and did it successfully and consistently, the "undecideds” among the voting population may, one day, look differently upon the question of independence.

Bob Hamilton, Motherwell.

Read more: Shame on the SNP for wasting our precious cash on useless indy papers

Give us a rest from Brexit

WOULD it be possible for your Group Business Editor (sic), Ian McConnell to provide articles of relevance to business, economics or finance, instead of his weekly grievance rant about Brexit?

This week’s offering ("As cash pressures grow, is there some trouble on horizon for overseas travel?", The Herald, July 28) is classic in its inclusion of an utterly-irrelevant early reference to the chip on his shoulder, before every industry comparative then quoted uses pre- and post-Covid as its significant and relevant checkpoint, not our EU exit.

While with one statement he finds no surprise in the high demand for international travel, with the next he then finds astonishment – simply due to an endless need in some way to blame the UK economy. This despite the fact that UK interest rates are only 0.5% higher than the EU, and our unemployment rate at least 2% lower than most of Western Europe.

Furthermore, how does he justify his wish for more and more new routes from Scottish airports when the focus of the SNP is on curtailing all Scots’ travel by banning cars and demanding reduced flights to pander to its minority unelected green colleagues?

Steph Johnson, Glasgow.

We need a new capitalism

THERE must be a way of replacing the current form of capitalism with something more acceptable, the problem being that too many citizens and politicians seem to go along with Margaret Thatcher's insistence that “there is no alternative”. There must however be such an alternative, capitalism as currently operating being incapable, for instance, of facing up to the problems arising from global heating, the moral and scientific case for acting now being unanswerable.

The public must recognise that and encourage our politicians to come up with answers no matter how life-changing and costly they will be, especially with adequate provision having to be made to protect those of limited means.

There is currently no party with the courage to come up with an alternative but I suggest that, preferably sooner rather than later, neoliberalism must be replaced with a different form of capitalism which recognises the needs of the poor instead of prioritising the interests, influence and prosperity of the rich.

I suggest that the issues of global warming, poverty and capitalism are inextricably linked to each other and that the only party in which we ought to have had hope is a Labour Party, which used to promote social democracy, under a leadership the strategy of which was to create a more humane society.

I recognise that any change which attempts to create a society founded on decency, civility and equality will be met with fearsome resistance from those who benefit from the current set-up.

Nevertheless I agree with Neil Mackay (“What Scotland really needs is a new party of the left”, The Herald, July 27) and his call for such a party to be "completely neutral on the constitution”.

John Milne, Uddingston.