Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Readers’ Letters: Independence is only way we can escape this groundhog day

Harold Wilson at a press conference after his announcement that he was to give up office as Prime Minister when a successor was elected.
Harold Wilson at a press conference after his announcement that he was to give up office as Prime Minister when a successor was elected.

Sir, – Almost another year gone. Looking back on last year and even further back as long as I can remember to the Heath, Wilson governments, I can not remember a time the UK was run well for the people.

All I knew was poverty and winters of discontent but there was always food. My mother fed us well on porridge, mince and tatties etc, I learned later often to the exclusion of eating herself.

Looking at the news nothing much has changed.

My father worked all hours to make ends meet.

A former Gordon Highlander who had spent five of his early years away from home right through the Second World War.

Then oil in the early 1970s brought hope that things would get better.

As usual our hopes were dashed. Westminster said no to an oil fund, preferring to privatise the country’s assets, selling the family silver and, in Gordon Brown’s case, the gold reserve.

The world is ill-divided – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

There is only one way to get out of this groundhog day and that is with independence, where the people of Scotland get a government of their choice and can plot our own destiny not the same old incompetence at Westminster.

There is no Brexit benefit, no extra money for our health service. No positive case for the Union.

Hoping for a happy new year and a better future for our children and grandchildren – in an independent Scotland.

Herbert Petrie, Parkhill, Dyce.

Canadian ferries should be a lesson

Sir, – We have every right to feel apprehensive with the news (P&J December 24) that the Turks are going to build two new ferries for us; after the Scottish government brings us to the end of a five-year wait for their homemade pair and present us with a bill of around £340 million instead of the estimated £97m.

Transport Scotland paid £156,000 for a report from consultants in February which, helpfully, made a comparison between us and Canada, who have a very similar public ferry service.

They have a similar number of vessels on a comparable amount of routes, although the Canadian boats are on average 11 years older. The average state subsidy is just about the same – but for the same money the Canadian ferries carry 22 million passengers annually against the Scottish 5 million.

Perhaps crucially, the Canadian ferry fleet have a regulator while the Scottish fleet do not!

Not only does there appear to be no worries about public money in Holyrood’s capital spending but also a carefree attitude to running costs.

Efficiencies should be looked for in how Holyrood runs our business because we have had ample proof from bad experiences to illustrate this by an independence-obsessed Scottish government. They simply don’t have a clue. Let’s remember to check the bill for the two identically specified Turkish ferries with what appears for us later on the Clyde.

Sam Coull, Lendrum Terrace, Boddam.

Three cheers for paper deliverers

Sir, – I would like to reiterate your correspondent’s recent letter re the amazing job our paper boys and girls manage to do all the year round, but particularly recently in the spell of Arctic weather.

We have had our paper delivered to our door for many years and have been fortunate to have had a series of ultra-efficient, helpful, friendly and polite youngsters.

We have yet to meet our present one as we old folk are seldom around when he calls early in the morning! I send grateful thanks to every one of them and wish them all the very best in their future lives.

Veronica Lancaster, Macleod Road, Inverness.

Is there a loophole in SNP tax plans?

Sir, – After a conversation with a savvy financial person I have to ask the question: Has the SNP once again showed their total incompetence in all things financial?

At first glance core SNP supporters would have congratulated their party on this innovative scheme.

A penny in the pound tax hike to directly support the NHS is not a new idea as it was part of the Liberal manifesto many years ago. As I believe the wealth of a nation is directly related to its health I would wholeheartedly support any rational idea to fund a service which, since devolution, has been starved of everything related to providing for the nation’s health.

The person I spoke with thought he saw a glaring hole in the SNP master plan: What would happen if the majority of high tax earners (+41%) increased their salary pension contribution until they only are paying the same amount of net tax as their 2022 tax year?

While this would mean those earners would see a decrease in net income they would not be contributing any additional tax revenue in 2023 and would also be gaining additional tax relief on their pension contributions.

Have the SNP truly considered the potential outcome? So instead of gathering the expected additional tax revenue the SNP could effectively be handing high earners an additional tax break through the indirect benefit of salary sacrifice pension schemes.

If there is any substance in what I have been told then bang goes the feelgood factor and the nation is again left with this feeling of a government who have only one direction in mind and that is not the health and welfare of Scotland.

Finlay G Mackintosh, Loch View, Forres.

No wonder pupils prefer burgers

Sir, – Although much has altered in society over the 80 years since I was a schoolboy, feeling cold and hungry remains unchanged with the passage of time.

I sigh in despair at what disappears from foodbank shelves, seldom an oatmeal product or potato, the saviours of so many of a post-war generation.

Porridge for breakfast – what better to warm a shivering body – followed by tatties for dinner and sometimes for tea.

The simple spud, humble no more when Jack Frost comes knocking on the door, boiled, baked and sometimes fried will leave a warm glow inside. That’s something some of the school lunches we see being served on news programmes will never achieve – a few chicken nuggets, salad, sweetcorn followed by some fruit.

Do school dinners satisfy youngsters’ hunger pangs?

Do you wonder why so many head for the burger van?

Free school meals offers go unclaimed. Is the reason for that a stigma at being seen as unable to provide for your family or could it be what is served just doesn’t satisfy?

Providing meals that quell the hunger pangs prevent the craving for high calorie snacks, major contributors to the epidemic of obesity that has engulfed so many of tender years in our country.

Along with my friends and classmates growing up in a world free from such tasty tongue tingling titbits, we were the living replicas of Lowry’s matchstick kids.

I have some expertise on the appetites of children having observed how much three growing boys can clear from their plates.

Mince and tatties followed by Eve’s pudding, a sure fire winner on a freezing winter’s day.

Serving salads to cold and hungry youngsters on such a day is like conserving the heat in your room by mending a broken window pane with chicken wire.

Only Charlie our rabbit, he with his thick woolly coat, ever gave salad the paws up.

Ivan W Reid, Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

Fantastic present from the NHS

Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson.

Sir, – We hear so many negative reports about the NHS, I would like to tell of my experience lately.

Two days before Christmas I had an appointment at the EDC Unit, Zone 8, Raigmore Hospital for cataract removal.

From the time I went in until I came out two hours later, I was shown the utmost care and attention and kindness from Mr Pyott and all of his team.

I would like to say a huge thank you for the best Christmas present I could wish for.

I wish them all a very happy and peaceful 2023.

Frank Larkin, Ardgour, By Fort William.

Gossip no basis for discussion

Sir, – Herbert Petrie (EE, Letters) should be held to account for the numerous trolling letters he writes in favour of independence or, more often, to criticise Westminister.

His letter contains personal opinion often implied as fact, with his latest letter inferring three actions that have no basis in fact whatsoever.

Nicola Sturgeon. Image: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Nicola Sturgeon did not “negotiate” a deal with NHS Scotland on a fraction of the Scottish tax take. Proportionately the Scottish Government has as much to spend on the NHS as any part of the UK and facts tell us the NHS in Scotland is not in a healthy position.

He tells us the UK Government is running down the NHS to sell it, but we have had significant Tory governments in place for long periods since 1979 with not even a close start to selling the NHS.

Perhaps, instead of falling on deaf ears he should believe it when they say they have no intention of selling.

During Covid the nation demanded the purchase of PPE and I agree we were ripped off on a number of contracts, not just by Tory donors but by a whole host of charlatans, but at the time the priority was supply, not price.

Would he rather we did not purchase?

Finally he states the NHS in Scotland is under fire from Tory plans to undermine self governance by reducing its powers and bypassing it.

Absolute nonsense as such action has never been mooted by anyone other than those with an agenda.

It is no surprise that we cannot have a proper grown-up conversation about Scotland’s future when facts and figures are ignored in favour of gossip and blether.

He is right that the opposition is presently pretty pathetic but that does not automatically mean that the government is good.

If we had any decent form of opposition it would show how absolutely awful Holyrood is. The present Westminister government leaves a lot to be desired, but don’t tell us that Holyrood is any better.

Walter Service, Danestone, Aberdeen.