In his attempt to deflect responsibility from Labour/LibDem mismanagement of the Edinburgh tram project, Richard Allison (Letters, September 21) fails to appreciate that the SNP consistently opposed the scheme as TIE’s business case never stood up.

When the SNP minority government took office in 2007, they were forced into diverting £500 million from the transport budget for dualling the A9 into the tram project by Tory, Labour and LibDem MSPs.

The inquiry rightly puts the bulk of the blame onto TIE and highly paid council officials. On October 25, 2007, an Edinburgh City Council press release stated that Edinburgh’s tram network received backing from the majority of city councillors when they voted to approve TIE Ltd’s final business case, 46 councillors voted in favour of the recommendations but all 12 SNP councillors voted against.

The original flawed contract for the tram project was signed when Labour was in power at both Holyrood and in the City Chambers. They set up TIE to manage the tram project and TIE’s day-to-day operation from 2007 to 2011 was overseen by two LibDems, one Labour and a Tory councillor who were appointed board members, but councillors continually complained about being kept in the dark.

At council level, the SNP moved that the tram scheme be scrapped due to the lack of detail on costs, timescales and risks involved on 30 April 2009 but the other parties did not even support calls for a report on the costs and timescales.

As for the SNP’s record on infrastructure projects, what about the wonderful Queensferry Crossing built on time and under budget, to name but one?

And the record is far better than the UK Government’s catalogue of more costly failures.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Stop telling us what to think

Dr Martin Luther King’s memorable “I have a dream” speech, given before the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, contains a remarkable sentence which begins: “I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification…”

All my life I’ve wondered, what are the words of interposition and nullification? I don’t know, but I would hazard a guess that they were the governor’s way of putting a brake on the aspirations of the civil rights movement. Now I find, by a strange ironic twist, that the words of interposition and nullification are everywhere. They are, or were, on the plaque at the base of the statue of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, in St Andrew Square, providing “context”. They are on the frontispiece of the 2023 republication of Ian Fleming’s Live and Let Die, telling us that social attitudes were different in 1953. Duh. An early chapter in that book has been renamed “Seventh Avenue” and gutted.

We can look to the United States to see the inevitable corollary to such interventions, with the banning of books from schools and libraries (“Book bans hit record high in US libraries”, The Herald, September 21). Some of the books in question are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Huckleberry Finn, Slaughterhouse Five, and the Harry Potter series.

They have been assigned to oblivion, as if by that wretched character in 1984, Syme, whose job it was to obliterate the English language. And look what happened to him.

I wish people would stop telling us, you and me, what to think. I am quite capable of reading a book, or looking at a statue, which is after all a work of art, and making up my own mind about its meaning and purport. I can do without the context of somebody else’s interposition and nullification. We only need three words on a book’s frontispiece, or a statue’s plaque: Complete and Unabridged.
Dr Hamish Maclaren, Stirling

The reality of life in Scotland

If life in Scotland is so bad under an SNP-led Scottish Government, why, according to the latest census, are people from the rest of the UK flocking to Scotland?

Surely it cannot be because of a broken economy or failing services relative to the rest of the UK as persistently portrayed (inaccurately) by the UK media or because Scotland has less-hospitable weather. The truth is that – in spite of the misleading words of a patronising Douglas Ross or a sanctimonious Anas Sarwar or Alex Cole-Hamilton – while life is difficult for most people under the prevailing economic circumstances, except the super-rich, it is relatively better in Scotland.

Scotland’s NHS continues to struggle to reach the level of service provided before the Covid pandemic but is better staffed than in other UK countries and on nearly every comparable measure is performing better than the NHS in Tory-run England or the NHS in Labour-run Wales. The cost of living crisis fuelled by Brexit and the massive increase in mortgage rates fuelled by the actions of Liz Truss and her Tory-led UK Government have directly or indirectly had a negative effect on everyone living in the UK, but the actions of the SNP-led Scottish Government have lessened adverse impacts on the poor, the young, the old and the disadvantaged while council-tax rates remain on average around two-thirds of the level in England and around three-quarters of the level in Wales.

Besides Scotland’s attractive scenery and distinctive history the truth is that people coming to live in Scotland from the rest of the UK generally appreciate the many benefits of living in a country where some of the governance is devolved from centralised-control in London. The primary reason young people continue to leave our country is to look for work where proportionately most UK infrastructure spending is made – this is outside of Scotland and in and around London, a perverse situation that has existed for decades, if not centuries, and that will not change until Scotland again becomes an independent country.
Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

The PM’s U-turn is entirely sensible

Rishi Sunak is proving to be a great Prime Minister. Described as “a workaholic”, he has brought stability to the economy. He has stated clearly his five-point plan to halve inflation, grow the economy, cut national debt, cut NHS waiting lists, and stop illegal immigration. His plan is working.
Now he has taken the very sensible decision to reverse Boris Johnson’s 2030 ban on internal combustion vehicles back to 2035, allow gas and oil boilers to continue, and scrapped the wilder policies of the Climate Change Committee agency.

Given that the UK has already slashed carbon emissions to 1% of global emissions, this is a sensible move which will save ordinary people thousands of pounds compared with those of the Labour Party.

I hope Mr Sunak will – as he did with the unpopular Gender Recognition Act – ban the extreme eco-policies of the Green-SNP administration which intend that Scots in rural areas will have to replace their oil and LPG boilers from 2025 and in urban areas from 2030.
William Loneskie, Lauder, Berwickshire

Vision? Maybe. Plan? Maybe not

Mr Iain Cope (Letters, September 21) states that “a vision and plan for Scotland to be successful independent country certainly exists”.

Vision there may be. A plan there is not. The SNP and attendant parties have failed to address any of the significant issues that would impact an independent Scotland from day one of independence, not least of which is that Scotland would only have enough money to pay for around 75% of the current level of public spending.

Scotland has problems, largely relating to demography (it is getting older and that reduces tax raised and increases public expenditure) and dealing with the decline of industry. Neither of these can really be laid at Westminster’s door – they have happened all across Europe and the developed world – and so independence in and of itself will not solve them. If the SNP have grand plans to improve the Scottish economy, then by all means I would love to hear them (and I’d also be interested to know why they haven’t done more already, given that devolution provides plenty of scope to do so).

The problem is that a “plan” involves more than expressing a desire to do something. It involves more than pointing at other countries and saying “they are rich, we can be too”. It involves sitting down and thinking through problems and working out solutions. And that is something that neither Salmond, nor Sturgeon, nor Yousaf, ever seemed to regard as particularly important.
David McIntyre, Sydney, Australia

Raid on Scotland’s piggy bank

The SNP Government is talking of raising the minimum alcohol price to 65p per unit. How many more doctors etc need to tell them it’s not working?

They’ve been told umpteen times by health officials that increasing the drink price is making no difference. I would argue that it’s nothing to do with Scotland’s alcohol problem, it’s simply a money maker because Humza and co. have emptied the Scottish piggy bank.
Ian Balloch, Grangemouth

Serious problem of inflation

Your correspondent Leah Gunn Barrett (Letters, September 21) has a charmingly naive but misguided view on (and, it appears, something of a fixation with) the role of central banks in the money supply.

She should be aware that they are, in any financially prudent setting, more than just printing presses and, if she doubts that, I direct her to the German experience of hyperinflation of the 1920s. There are many other examples. It is certainly true that governments can chose to spend on projects they deem to be of value but that expenditure has to be financed through taxation and/or borrowing.

It’s also true that some of these spending decisions may be misguided, and again there is no lack of examples, but the financial consequences are the same: the bills have to be paid or national indebtedness grows to a point where the country’s rating on international markets collapses along with its currency.

Inflation is already causing ordinary people serious problems, so please don’t wish any more of it on us.
Brian Chrystal, Edinburgh

Taggart says thanks for 40 years

Your columnist, Mark Smith, kicked off the celebrations for Taggart’s 40th anniversary with his in-depth article in the Herald’s Saturday magazine on August 26th. Four weeks later, we’re coming to the end of a period during which the Taggart team has enjoyed an extraordinary outpouring of goodwill not least from The Herald, but other press too; from Glasgow Caledonian University with its beautifully curated launch of a Taggart archive in collaboration with Blythe Duff; and of course from STV itself, with BBC Scotland also giving us a nod.

It’s been quite humbling to learn that Taggart is still Glasgow’s (if not Scotland’s) number one TV show 40 years on. Taggart says thanks to everyone for such generosity.
Robert Love, Glasgow