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Readers’ letters: Seafood jobs threatened, memories of Marchburn and the energy crisis

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Sir, – As with other sectors, week after week energy costs, particularly for gas, in the Scottish seafood processing sector are escalating. As businesses try to cope with ever-changing prices, it is of great concern that some energy suppliers are unable to give quotes on tariffs for next year.

This cannot continue or jobs will be lost, and food affordability and our country’s food security will be severely impacted, leading to us becoming increasingly reliant on foreign countries for our food.

I have written in recent days to the two candidates vying to become prime minister with no reply. It is time for the sitting tenant of No 10 and his ministers to act – in conjunction with Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak if need be – to prepare a plan that will restore business confidence that the government is taking this crisis seriously.

Businesses across the sector find it scandalous that the incumbent prime minister is sitting quietly doing nothing while they are paying for extortionate energy costs that are out of control.

We expect better of government.

These high energy costs have come about because of the failure of successive governments to invest in our energy security.

The cost of energy needs to be capped at the current level to give business some clarity and certainty over pricing in the medium term.

Jimmy Buchan, Scottish Seafood Association, Burnside Road, Peterhead.

Save us from the ‘deficit deniers’

Sir, – It never fails to amaze me about the amount of nonsense written by some nationalist “deficit deniers” like Graham Bell (Press and Journal, August 25) when they attempt to dismiss GERS figures which most informed people understand would be used by the financial institutions on day one if Scotland ever separated from the UK.

Furthermore, GERS was clearly acknowledged by SNP economist Andrew Wilson in his Growth Commission report, requested by Nicola Sturgeon, which was eventually binned as it didn’t give the answers the FM wanted.

But more importantly Mr Bell, like many SNP supporters, appears to confuse national debt with a fiscal deficit when he indignantly claimed we were paying “60% of fiscal debt” with only 8% of the population” – we don’t!

For his edification, we rightly account only for a proportionate amount (circa 8%) of the UK national debt. However, we are responsible for more than 60% of the UK annual fiscal deficit because we spend more than 20% more on our public services than our counterparts south of the border.

Furthermore, it is impossible to run a “balanced budget” when our expenditure is far greater than our revenue – he should try that one out with his local bank manager!

Also, counter to what Mr Bell claimed, the Scottish Government can borrow up to a predetermined level and was allowed a further £300m during Covid. Understandably there has to be a cap on the amount borrowed to protect the sterling in the international money markets.

So rather than saying the supporters of the Union and media should come “clean” about GERS I would respectfully suggest he and his ilk stop listening to misinformation from the SNP and do some basic research rather than expose themselves to public ridicule.

Ian Lakin, Murtle Den Road, Milltimber, Aberdeen.

Energy crisis will reveal stark truth

Sir, – A crisis is a good thing, as it brings matters to a head and serves to reveal the makings of that crisis.

In the case of energy, it will show that while basic out-of-the-ground energy costs have not changed much, the various mechanisms of this privatised industry that exploits its captive customers, will be revealed as a series of self-fulfilling prophecies. There will be plenty of smoke and mirrors to baffle the government, while all in the chain from production to consumption get rich from those prophesies, encouraged by the media who talk up prices as a substitute for news, thus preparing consumers for what the energy suppliers will inflict on them.

But now, people can no longer afford to buy their product and will find themselves in extremis.

Quite how this will manifest itself socially will be seen, but protests on a scale not seen since the poll tax riots seem inevitable.

Winter is coming, and what will the government do then, poor thing?

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Kinross.

Sturgeon focusing on wrong issues

Sir, – I’m grateful to your many correspondents for keeping me up to speed with Nicola Sturgeon’s recent manoeuvrings.

For instance, I see from Mhairi Rennie’s excellent letter (Press and Journal, August 25) that Ms Sturgeon is heading to Denmark this week to open an international office, and Ms Rennie tells us other international offices exist elsewhere.

Well, I’ll be damned, and to say nothing of the cost to Scottish taxpayers which runs into millions. It strikes me that with her grandiose notions of independence, Ms Sturgeon could be intent on opening Scottish offices around the globe. Although, she would probably prefer that they were referred to as embassies.

Speaking of indepen-dence, what’s with these 22 taxpayer-funded civil servants Ms Rennie alludes to, all of them beavering away at Ms Sturgeon’s behest on a referendum which Westminster will in no circumstances allow? It’s plain as day the government’s focus should be on matters of health, education, and much else besides.

What’s afoot in Scotland is ridiculous and costly nonsense, and as for the man the SNP fields at Westminster, Ian Blackford, his inane rants about independence and the “will of the Scottish people” have become a complete embarrassment.

Keith Fernie, Drakies Avenue, Inverness.

SNP quoting GERS when it suits them

Sir, – In days gone by, when Scotland’s oil-enriched GERS figures were good, Alex Salmond used them as evidence that we could go it alone.

Then, from 2014 until 2019, the period of low oil price and industry contraction, we got a true sense of our actual performance and we collected between 8% and 10% less in taxes than total public spending on schools, pensions, our share of defence, etc.

The SNP then argued that GERS was not a true analysis of the situation and, anyway, oil and gas was just the icing on the cake.

The Covid years distort the picture and tell us little, and now high oil prices are forecast to transform our GERS figures again.

Good news for nationalists, but hang on, didn’t they want to prise off the oil and gas “icing” and close the industry down not so long ago?

And, if next year’s figures are good, will they finally agree that good or bad, GERS fairly measures Scotland’s fiscal readiness for independence?

Allan Sutherland, Willow Row, Stonehaven.

Flawed logic of climate deniers

Sir, – Charles Wardrop provides some of the claims put forward by climate science deniers concerning measures to deal with global warming (Letters, August 18).

All such claims have been rebutted with evidence and reason by the scientific community for years.

Mr Wardrop starts by implying that because the UK and Scottish contributions to total global CO2 emissions are small then we do not need to decarbonise.

By the same flawed logic, I imagine that if Mr Wardrop to find himself in a leaky boat with a few dozen other folk he would sit on his hands while everyone else was furiously bailing, since his own efforts would be small compared with the total.

The point is that global warming is a global problem that requires all countries to reduce emissions and increase carbon sequestration.

Mr Wardrop’s confusion on this issue is illustrated by his use of China and India’s intentions to justify inaction while denying that the UK’s efforts set a “good example” to others. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Mr Wardrop’s claim that there is “no evidence” of benefit from decarbonisation is refuted by numerous studies, for example, Harries et al, Nature v.410, which looked at satellite measurements of incoming and outgoing radiation as long ago as 2001 and found “Our results provide direct experimental evidence… that is consistent with concerns over radiative forcing of climate.”

Finally, Mr Wardrop complains about the costs of dealing with this problem. However, every serious study shows that the costs of inaction are far higher.

For example, in 2021, University College London concluded: “The findings confirm that it is cheaper to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than it is to deal with climate change impacts… choosing to not reduce greenhouse gas emissions is an extremely risky economic strategy.”

Roy Turnbull, Torniscar, Nethy Bridge.

Boasting won’t win you any admirers

Sir, – Boasting is one aspect of behaviour that I find especially abhorrent.

Like in so many ways we function in adult life the seeds were sown in school, certainly by my very first teacher who soon after we had our feet under the desk gave all a piece of advice.

If we completed our work before classmates, never say “I’m better than you”or “I’m the best” – she had a long word for this called boasting and children who used those phrases were boasters.

Boasters never had friends. Boasting was rude. Any of us who forgot this advice felt the sting of her belt on our palms. Teachers in those days knew how to control children – no teacher was abused in the immediate post-war years.

Her advice has stayed with me throughout my adult life but if truth be told it’s been easy as I’ve never done much to boast about, although this did not stop colleagues from boasting about even less.

You can imagine my reaction to a pamphlet from the SNP that came through my letterbox with a picture of a bonnie baby on the front. Boasting at its finest, better than the other nations of the Union especially England in areas under Holyrood control.

What, may be asked, was the purpose of the document in the quest for independence?

SNP supporters know how well our government functions, unionists will never change their mind and the undecided, such as myself, say if those achievements occurred while part of the Union why would we want to leave in favour of a still-secret plan on how much better we would be as a small independent nation?

“We can do better,” says the first minister but there is no guarantee that this ambition will be achieved.

Better if the money spent on trumpet-blowing had gone to help poor folk pay their energy bills. As for boasting, my old teacher could have been wrong.

The boasters in Holyrood have many friends, some are so passionate they throw eggs and spit at folk just because they support another political party. Mind you, how many folk would like a friend who did that?

Ivan W Reid, Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

Lift veil of secrecy over cost crisis

Sir, – I’m quite surprised that nobody appears to be asking the biggest questions surrounding the entirely preventable cost-of-living crisis engulfing everyone at present. In the interests of fairness, transparency and being wholly in the public interest, the current veil of secrecy should be immediately lifted.

Who within the UK Government’s Ofgem thought this was a clever strategy to follow?

Who within the UK Government allowed this to happen or sanctioned that the price cap should be lifted?

Is the raising of the energy price cap just another ruse, like austerity was in relation to the failed banks, a means to bailing out the equally failed energy suppliers?

Is the current secrecy potentially something significant to do with the intellectual deficiencies and total incompetence of the incumbents of Downing Street and Westminster?

And is this misguided revenge what Boris Johnson has decided was his course of action as a direct result of his all too numerous failures in public office where he seemed completely unable to grasp how out of step his attitudes are with so many of the electorate?

Our elected MPs aren’t asking questions like these to not only resolve all the current issues but give the public a completely joined-up approach to our energy provision which doesn’t cost the customer extortionate amounts – or the planet.

Ian Beattie, Baker Street, Aberdeen.

Marchburn memories of my own

Rubbish piles up at the side of the access road leading to the Dancing Cairns tip beside Marchburn infant school In Aberdeen in 1969.

Sir, – Your photograph of illicit dumping on Marchburn Place sure brought back some memories.

We had the misfortune, with two pre-school-age children, to live there.

How anyone could think that a cul-de-sac on the end of an infants’ school playground could be a public tip is beyond me.

Obviously, they had been on their way to Dancing Cairns Quarry which was being used as landfill at that time but had lost their way.

Don’t ask me why anyone would think this was acceptable.

This I am sure predates nimbyism.

Ian Morrice.

Not everything is SNP’s fault

Sir, – It seems that nearly every other day in the EE I open the letters page to find there’s another one from Mr Forbes Gratton where he continues his criticism of everything concerning the SNP (EE, August 26).

It seems this newspaper is more than willing to help him but as most of his letters are factually incorrect I will take this opportunity to correct him on his latest rant about the refuse collectors (not bin men) pay dispute.

The Scottish Government can only fund local authorities within their budget and are not hiding behind underfunding local authorities, as he claims.

The Scottish Government by law has to balance the books and haven’t the same fiscal powers as Westminster, so they are severely restrained.

Every penny in taxation raised in Scotland with the exception of income tax flows into Westminster coffers and it is returned via the Barnett Formula, which has been long shown to be flawed. If Scotland were to be independent, with all the fiscal levers that would entail, things would be so much better.

The Tory leadership wannabes Sunak and Truss have shown little inclination to help hard-pressed citizens.

As Forbes Gratton usually says: “Scotland Deserves Better” – we will be when rid of Westminster and its gang of clowns.

David West, Scotstown Gardens, Bridge of Don.