IT would appear that Scottish nationalists are now using marches as a substitute for policies and meaningful political action.

It is also a source for SNP finance as the organisers made clear before last Saturday’s march ("Humza Yousaf says Scotland is suffering from a 'cost of Union crisis'", heraldscotland, September 2) that "paper money" would be best to fill the buckets. I assume it was coincidental that the march was arranged after a series of polls were predicting a drastic nationalist downfall. Even the 3-4,000 marchers last Saturday could help, maybe not enough for a top of the range campervan, but useful just the same.

If the present administration cannot run things properly, and that is proven to be the case on an almost daily basis, then its reasoning must be that a march of mostly old fogeys, dressed up and their kilts and flags newly ironed, tends to stop people asking relevant questions. Mind you, to deflect the ferry fiasco, they would need a daily march for a full year.

If only they would stop their incessant and terminally boring marches and instead make decisions on a logical, not dogmatic, base. And begin to tell the people of this country the truth. That would work wonders.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

What if Yes had won?

HUMZA Yousaf has addressed his unwavering disciples, telling them of the great injustice of Brexit . This, despite the fact that had the Yes campaign had won in 2014 Scotland would have been out of the UK and the EU. Add to that, according to the advice of the great finacial guru of the SNP, Andrew Wilson, we would have been in "austerity max" for 10 years, later revised to 25 years after Covid.

So, where would Scotland be now? Isolated is my best guess.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

Read more: Humza Yousaf says Scotland is suffering from a 'cost of Union crisis'

Tories to blame for NHS mess

CLARK Cross (Letters, September 1) indicates Age Concern Scotland has reported one in three elderly people in Scotland have paid for private medical treatment or intend to do so.

The NHS was in good shape until the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition UK Government introduced austerity economics in 2010, specifically to reduce spending on public services including the NHS.

Unfortunately, based on the current UK devolution rules the Scottish Government funding is dictated by and adversely affected by UK Government austerity economic decisions. The Scottish Government doesn’t have the UK Government options to borrow or to increase currency to invest in resources like additional NHS hospital beds for example.

UK cuts in NHS spending are particularly frustrating as NHS Confederation research indicates a growth in health care investment would result in economic growth equivalent to four times that investment. Fewer people would be on hospital waiting lists and more people in productive work.

It is not, as Mr Cross indicates, a “mega-wasteful Scottish Government” but an economically incompetent, and apparently uncaring UK Government to blame.

Understanding the importance of the NHS for the wellbeing of the people and for the economy, the Scottish Government has continued free prescriptions - a single prescription costs £9.35 in England - and the Scottish Government has negotiated with NHS staff to avoid strikes in Scotland, unlike in England.

Tax lost by having tax-deductible private medical care, as Mr Cross suggested, would be better spent on the NHS.

Jim Stamper, Bearsden.

UK destruction of our public services

JEREMY Hunt, when pressed by Laura Kuenssberg about replacing crumbling reinforced aerated autoclaved concrete (RAAC) in schools, vowed that the Government will “spend what it takes to sort out this problem as quickly as possible” ("‘No immediate risk to safety’ amid concerns over crumbly concrete", The Herald September 4).

Meanwhile, Scotland is ahead of the game. The Scottish Government knew the number and location of buildings containing RAAC because it, health boards and councils had been assessing the situation for months. Unlike England which is flying blind having to shut schools, Scotland didn’t privatise building safety inspections or cut staffing.

But back to Mr Hunt’s promise to spend as much as it takes to fix the problem: he doesn’t howl there’s no money because he knows, or should, that governments with a central bank and currency can always find the money, whether it’s for bombs, banks or bairns, usually in that order. But his neoliberal masters at the Treasury said the funding must come from the Education Department’s existing budget – and local authorities will not get any more dosh when forced to bus kids to other sites.

The destruction of public services wrought by Tory austerity and New Labour with its PFI obsession is nearly complete.

Scotland must get out before it’s dragged down the plughole.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.

Stop blaming the Government

INEVITABLY blame for the crumbling concrete fiasco is attributed to "the Government" for cutting repair budgets, rather than to the construction industry "experts" who approved and used such an unsuitable product for buildings that should have lifespans of 100 years. Like our roadway potholes, and the Grenfell Tower disaster, the initial construction materials and methods caused the problem, not subsequent repairs whether inadequate or not.

It was ever so – the contaminated blood scandal from decades ago was the fault of clinical NHS "experts", and the lack of PPE and Covid test kits the fault of NHS procurement staff, not of "the Government". The Post Office computer shambles was caused by the IT system developer and supplier, and by the disgraceful response of the PO's management.

Politicians participating in the so-called Partygate events were clearly unwise, but there were relatively few of them - such events were primarily initiated and attended by far more civil servants, at all seniority levels, but they seem to have got off largely scot-free. It is always too easy to blame "the Government", which fortunately does not "run the country" - we all do in a well-educated democracy, and culpability for failures and disasters very often lies at society's operating levels.

John Birkett, St Andrews.

Read more: How dare the Tories call out anyone for premature deaths?

Follow the Victorians

SCHOOLS, hospitals and other public buildings are being surveyed or closed because they're made of cheap bubbly concrete which had a predicted lifespan of 30 years or so ("‘No immediate risk to safety’ amid concerns over crumbly concrete", The Herald, September 4).

How about this: public buildings should be built, as they were in previous generations, of brick or stone, with roofs of slate or tile and rafters, studs and floors of seasoned sturdy wood? Indeed, in light of recent experience, sturdy wood will last more than 30 years as a structural material.

A brief survey of any town in Scotland will reveal redundant, useless and demolished buildings built from the late 1960s onwards - and Victorian town halls, schools, granaries and factories with a century or more of useful lifespan ahead of them, adapted if necessary for future use.

AJ Clarence, Prestwick.

The pursuit of more stuff

SURELY it is now blindingly obvious that the present climate crisis is the product of the unbridled pursuit of economic growth over many decades, largely to serve the insatiable lust of consumers for yet more "stuff". It is hardly surprising, then, that the major political parties compete for these consumers’ support by promising yet more economic growth. Yet it is wildly short-sighted and self-defeating, looking at the bigger picture. However, focusing instead on the huge disparities in individual welfares (including life expectancy) it is surely just as blindingly obvious that the poorest have an undeniable claim for the significant improvement in their position that economic growth could yield. However, pursuing growth for all will not improve the relative position of the poor, as the politically and economically powerful will always manage to preserve, if not increase, their differential benefits. It is indeed blindingly obvious that the priority has to be to tackle the distributional inequities perpetually ground out by the market system, that condemn the poor to endless poverty, where increasingly they are the most vulnerable to the inevitable consequences of the climate crisis.

But what chance is there of there being a majority willing to pursue that priority, willing to bear the cost of having less "stuff" themselves, that others might have more?

Dr Frederick G Hay, Glasgow.

The bear minimum

IT is sad to read that Scotland's borrowed panda bears are to be repatriated back to China ("Edinburgh Zoo: Panda pair departure date announced", heraldscotland, September 4). However, according to YouGov, Scotland will soon revert back to having as many Tory MPs as pandas: that is, none, though some will undoubtedly slither seamlessly into the Upper House zoo (for rare and endangered species), where they are safe from predators (electors).

GR Weir, Ochiltree.