SHONA Craven’s article last Friday (Tussles on accountability — with kids in the middle) highlighted something I have had an uneasy feeling about for some time. If teachers and headteachers don’t want the changes being brought in by the Scottish Government in terms of who runs our schools, why is it being forced upon them?

Among the accusations made against the SNP during the General Election campaign was that they were lacklustre and complacent. But maybe after 10 years in power they have also become just a bit over-confident. Perhaps it’s time they had a closer look at themselves.

Speaking to neighbours who voted Yes in 2014, and who voted for the SNP at the 2015 General Election, they tell me they didn’t vote for them this time because they “don’t like some of the things the SNP are doing”. If they carry on forcing this policy on the teachers and staff they’re likely to lose more votes next time round.

We elect political parties into power based on the promises they make and, if we are sensible, we also take into account their past record, and policy decisions they have made and are in the process of implementing. That is one of the reasons the SNP lost a lot of votes.

Devolved issues were pushed to the forefront, even though they had nothing to do with that particular election. Because people were not satisfied with they way these issues are being handled, they drifted away to Labour — and some were even daft enough to vote Tory!

I voted SNP again and did so with my head and not my heart.

I, too, have seen issues proposed and pursued by the Scottish Government that I don’t like and, if there had been a viable alternative, I might for the first time in many years have changed my voting pattern. But two articles in the same issue of The National demonstrated exactly why, despite my misgivings, voting SNP was and is the only sensible thing to do. In her column, Alison Johnstone highlighted the way the continuing Westminster austerity programme will affect the poorest in our society (Welfare cuts report show why we must do things differently, The National, June 30). As these cuts are introduced, less money comes back north from London and the only way the Scottish Government (and therefore the SNP) is going to be able to alleviate this is by raising extra taxes here in Scotland. That’s not right. It should not have to happen.

The other story that caught my eye was about the public-sector pay cap (Scrap public sector pay cap, SNP urged). Again, the Tories at Westminster have voted to retain the cap, and will again not be increasing funds in this respect, so the only way the Scottish Government could do this would be by cutting funds for other areas or increasing taxes.

The Scottish Government only has control over some 15 per cent of the revenue raised in Scotland. Westminster hogs the other 85 per cent. Until it has control over all our taxes, our Government is between a rock and a hard place. If it raises taxes, jobs and workers might move south. If it doesn’t will suffer the jibes of the other political parties at Holyrood and the loss of seats that will involve.

The Tories may well be evil, but they’re not daft. They’ve given the SNP just enough rope to allow them to hang themselves. If they do that, we can say goodbye to independence for at least a decade. They need to be very careful. To my mind, the next 18 months is going to be both the most trying and the most important in the existence of the SNP and indeed for the cause of independence itself.

If it handles things well, the present Scottish Government could well lead the country into independence. If it doesn’t, it will lead itself into oblivion for at least another 10 to 15 years.
CJ Kerr


Debate on NHS’s future a victim of our toxic politics

THE National was “unique” in taking a positive line on the Nuffield Trust report titled Learning From Scotland’s NHS (NHS in rest of UK urged to learn from ‘unique’ Scottish system for improving healthcare, July 5).

In general, the report has several favourable conclusions regarding the NHS in Scotland. While the NHS is short of funding throughout the UK, it appears that Scotland is making the best use of the funding that it gets. Probably the most significant finding is that debating the future of this country’s NHS is especially difficult due to the toxic political culture in Scotland.

The almost weekly attacks at First Minister’s Questions by Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale, and the headlines in the papers and on television about this report are proof of that. It is not only our NHS that is dogged by the opposition parties and media who can see no good in anything that is done by the SNP. Yesterday’s announcement that the growth in Scotland’s gross domestic product (GDP) has outstripped the UK figure probably came much to the chagrin of the doom and gloom merchants in the media.
John Jamieson
South Queensferry

WITH reference to the possibility of Donald Trump paying a visit to Scotland shortly, and the costs involved, there seems to be no suggestion that any visit here would be official, in the sense that he will meet any member of the Scottish Government. It appears that the purpose of his presence would be to visit his golf course.

I thought that, as President of the US, he must desist from the pursuit of any private business while in office, but if indeed this is his purpose, then it is a private issue.

Any security he needs must be his own and not provided by Police Scotland. Or if the Scottish populace do not organise any protests, but quietly ignore him, this would pleasingly offend his ego while removing the need for any secondary policing. There would be no cost to us and the Aberdeenshire peace would remain undisturbed.
Ken Gow
Banchory, Kincardineshire

AS a pro-indy socialist, I fully understand the logic of The National having a columnist such as Michael Fry who, once a week, puts forward a right-wing vision for an indy Scotland. After all, we might need some of those votes to win indy. And isn’t having different choices surely one of the central arguments for independence?

On the other hand, Scotland is already dominated by a right-wing Unionist press in which the ideas of not addressing inequality, tax cuts and “letting the market decide” are dribbled on to an unsuspecting population, like poison into the ear of Hamlet’s old dad, on a daily basis.

Three great historical facts give the lie to Michael’s appeal for an independent Scotland to turn its back on the languorous arms of socialism and embrace, Ayn Rand-style, the “objective” virtues of the marketplace.

Firstly, the kind of sunny upland, low tax, neo-liberal Laffer Curve voodoo economics of the right he proposes were tried at length both in the UK, in the USA, and throughout the western world in the late 1980s, the whole of the 1990s, and the early noughties. The result, as many Marxist economic commentators had predicted, was the huge crash of 2007-08, the subsequent recession and austerity.

Secondly, the totalitarian, so-called Marxist-Leninist — in reality, Stalinist — model of socialism he chooses to contrast his economic liberalism with, did itself produce remarkable growth figures in its heyday, despite its bureaucracy, cruelties and inefficiencies. And those early and abortive experiments in building a new society are not the model of change that the vast majority of socialists and progressive lefts in modern Scotland either want, suggest or aspire to.

Lastly, but most importantly, the Tory ideology Fry espouses for an independent Scotland is exactly the same ideology Scots have voted against in large numbers and had imposed on them by both Tory and Blairite governments they didn’t vote for in the last four decades.

For the vast majority of Yessers, the right-wing policies Michael Fry appears to espouse represent precisely the ideology we want to escape from by becoming independent.
Steve Arnott