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IN times of national crisis like this, it’s vital that a nation’s leader communicates with its citizens.
Nicola Sturgeon has done so steadfastly and with clarity, and she has demonstrated empathy and understanding for the difficulties that Covid has caused us all. The contrast with Boris Johnson is obvious.
So (the dreaded “so” at the start of a sentence), it’s outrageous for Lord George Foulkes, Labour member of that unelected House, to put pressure on Ofcom and the BBC to stop coverage of the First Minister’s coronavirus briefings.
We’re in the midst of a major public health emergency and many lives depend on how the government manages it; communication is a vital part of that management.
Lord Foulkes is playing politics with people’s lives. Maybe he’s looking back to Scottish Labour’s glory days, when it dominated Scottish politics.
I have news for him: the SNP are now in government at Holyrood and Scottish Labour is a rotting hulk, ready to slip beneath the waves.
If Lord Foulkes hopes to restore his party’s fortunes in Scotland, he should stop his political games and look instead for some people and policies that Scottish voters might actually find interesting.
Doug Maughan, Dunblane
Defending our democracy
AT long last, someone from Labour has picked up the sword and gone to defend democracy in Scotland.
Lord Foulkes has involved the broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom, and asked them to investigate the daily briefings of Nicola Sturgeon in the run-up to the Holyrood elections early next year.
To claim as he does, that Ms Sturgeon uses this high-profile exposure on BBC and STV to expound her political views is the understatement of this century so far.
The Tories claim it is used to push SNP policy and stir up resentment. Absolutely; who could possibly argue with that? Shame on you, BBC Scotland and STV; enough is enough.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh
The ongoing row over GERS…
IT IS clear that Kevin Hague, chairman of the anti-independence group These Islands, is going to continue with his defence of the discredited GERS statistics (“Independence would cost us dearly… the statistics prove it”, December 15). This is no surprise given that GERS was introduced as a political weapon by Ian Lang, former Conservative Secretary of State for Scotland, to undermine the opposition when he said “this will score against them”.
What is a surprise, given the annual furore created by GERS, is that the Scottish Government continues to publish them without any meaningful comments on their validity – it is probably too radical for the SNP to do otherwise.
With so much doubt being cast not only GERS but on the myriad of statistical information published by central government and other eminent bodies which are invariably challenged by each other and frequently found to be erroneous, can anyone believe them? Three current examples are Brexit, HS2 and London Crossrail.
Those who legitimately criticise GERS as being estimates and guesstimates have failed to produce a similar document reflecting the statistics for an independent Scotland – but do these figures even matter when it comes to independence?
The many countries which have attained independence since the Second World War have done so through a desire to be a sovereign state, something that is currently a hot topic in the UK Brexit negotiations, and so it will be with Scotland negotiating a return to its former status.
People who wish to better themselves are usually faced with change and upheaval and fundamentally, countries are no different.
For those currently sitting on the fence in the independence debate, you have to have faith in Scotland and its people to do it. With our natural resources, we are given a helping hand which is the envy of many. And instead of continuing stagnation, new opportunities will arise to create a new exciting future with prospects, our young people will remain, and many will return.
Alternatively, go with Kevin Hague and GERS.
Alan M Morris, Blanefield, Glasgow
… And our ravaged economy
MAY I précis Kevin Hague’s argument for the validity of the GERS figures?
Scotland’s tax-generating powers are insufficient to support current levels of public spending. Scotland’s tax-take from the oil bonanza was reduced by Westminster tax policies in the good years, and it’s too late to do anything about that now.
Scotland’s ravaged industrial economy, after 300 years of Union, and in particular, the brutal and deliberate destruction of that sector during the 1980s, is not in a fit position to retrieve the situation without eye-watering austerity.
We have the GERS figures to prove it. It’s too late to do anything about it now, so nationalists, shut up and eat your cornflakes.
John Jamieson, Ayr
Trawling the pessimistic depths
WITH his Armageddon-style descriptions of the Brexit process and outcomes, Mike Russell is rapidly becoming Scotland’s Debbie Downer, the doomsayer character in the American Saturday Night Live comedy show.
She is described by Wikipedia as “someone who frequently adds bad news and negative feelings to a gathering, thus bringing down the mood of everyone around them”. Russell was at it again on BBC Sunday Politics. When asked: “on fishing, isn’t your argument somewhat undermined because your solution is to take Scotland back into the EU and the hated Common Fisheries Policy?”, he blurted out the usual “our solution is to remain in the EU and get the best solution for everybody”.
He couldn’t resist huffing: “There will be so many difficulties you cannot sell a single item of fish to anybody”. A single item of fish? Thankfully, Morbid, Waffling Mikey is standing down in May.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven
Censoring Struan Stevenson
YOU published a letter (“Let columnists calm down, too”, December 14) from Professor Brian Boyd, which openly suggested that you ought to censor the views of Herald columnist, Struan Stevenson.
He offered no explanation of why he thought you should do so, other than a dark hint that Stevenson had not thought carefully about his argument.
But at least we could read and evaluate Struan Stevenson’s argument, which is more than can be said for Professor Boyd’s case, since he offered nothing to justify his desire to silence your columnist. Censorship is no substitute for argument.
John McArthur, Rutherglen
Cop26’s complex implications
IN HER ITV interview of December 14 the First Minister discussed Brexit, Covid19 and independence without giving a single mention to the implications of COP26 on the Scottish economy.
In particular, there was no reference to the plan to enhance home working to reduce air pollution after Covid-19, or to provide answers to the questions arising from such a policy.
For example, does increased home-working mean ScotRail is redundant since it is currently operating at very low load factors, which can only decrease further if even fewer commuters let the train take the strain ? Is the objective to change to an electric bus strategy to meet COP26 targets?
Again, if only the rich can afford to fly, what is the future for Glasgow and Prestwick airports when Edinburgh could more than cope with such a massive reduction in passengers?
There is also the problem of meeting the annual energy bill once it increases from £14 billion to £56bn (renewable energy is four times more expensive than gas).
A senior board member of Scottish Power has already warned that “renewable energy is too expensive for Scottish consumers and the bill must be passed to the taxpayer” (Herald of June 21, 2019). Note that transferring the cost to the taxpayer results in an annual increase of around £22,000 in tax for 2.5 million Scots.
Voters will surely be aware that the Economic Secretary has agreed to implement the Green Revolution in full at a cost of £150bn but so far has not indicated who will repay the debt.
There is also the unanswered problem that, with the collapse of the engineering firm BiFab, wind turbine work will largely be completed outwith Scotland with the generators being built in Germany, turbine blades in England, support units in Indonesia and the switchgear and associated cables in China.
Where, then, are the jobs for those at Mossmorran, Grangemouth and on North Sea installations following a ban on fossil fuels?
Ian Moir, Castle Douglas
Our cartoonish Prime Minister
BORIS Johnson may be a pain in the backside for many Scots but he’s the gift that keeps on giving for Steven Camley!
Gordon Evans, Rutherglen