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Readers’ Letters: Kate Forbes’s ‘straight’ answers divide opinions amid ‘uninspiring’ SNP leadership debate as A9 dualling delays rumble on

Our readers have their say on Kate Forbes' controversial equal marriage comments. Image: PA
Our readers have their say on Kate Forbes' controversial equal marriage comments. Image: PA

As the debate surrounding A9 dualling delays rages on, P&J and EE readers have their say on matters from Kate Forbes and SNP leadership to the Assynt deer cull and Aberdeen’s Cafe 52.

Christian’s honesty in swimming against the tide is refreshing

Sir, – Why is Kate Forbes being attacked because of her religion? The other candidates are not receiving the same scrutiny or backlash of their faith or no faith.

The Christian religion is not discriminatory.

Could anything be more inclusive than the words of Jesus: “Whosoever comes to me I will in no wise cast out. Love your neighbour as yourself, love your enemies.”

Having a different belief is not intolerance – rather not allowing someone to have a different belief is.

Kate Forbes is facing a backlash because she dared to be straight and honest about her beliefs – all in the name of equality and tolerance.

Kate Forbes. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson.

There is a common misunderstanding of the Christian religion in that people equate strong beliefs with discrimination.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The concept that we can disagree with someone’s lifestyle and at the same time love the person is one which is alien to most people, but it is the Christian way.

Jesus was criticised in his own day for eating with publicans and sinners. He did not agree with the lifestyle of the woman of Samaria, but he loved her and saved her.

We should honour Kate Forbes for being sincere and honest and having the courage to swim against the tide.

It is something that this country desperately needs.

Morag Munro, Borve, Harris.

Kate a breath of fresh air

Sir, – Well that just about sums up where we are in British politics.

Finally a politician who answers the question honestly and fully and gets totally vilified.

Kate Forbes must be wondering why she bothered.

Personally I hope she continues to tell the truth.

We could do with a lot more like her.

George Gray, Morven Place, Aboyne

Unacceptable lack of understanding

Sir, – I do not agree with Kate Forbes’ opinions on same-sex marriage or having children out of wedlock.

However, I fully support her right to hold these opinions, which are borne out of her own Christian faith.

Also, as far as I am aware, holding such views is not illegal?

I was flabbergasted to read that the MP for Inverness, Drew Hendry, was withdrawing his support because of “how important it is to bring people together and understand the plurality of opinions”.

Quite so Mr Hendry, but where is the understanding of Ms Forbes’ opinion?

Her castigation is tantamount to religious persecution.

Colin W Flinn, Strichen.

Question of faith over government

Sir, – Looking at the candidates who are putting their names in the hat to be the new first minister I’m rather sad and disappointed by Kate Forbes stating that she would not have anything to do with same-sex marriage due to the fact that she is a member of the Free Church of Scotland.

With that in mind, there is no way that she can have any contribution in leading the SNP government as it may mean that her connections with the church will affect many decisions that she has to make.

Scotland needs a good government in order to stay on an even keel.

In this day and age things are changing very fast.

Gavin Elder, Prunier Drive, Peterhead.

Top job hopefuls failing to inspire

Sir, – The hills are alive with the sound of politicians vying for the top seat in Scotland.

We will gain a new first minister, from within the SNP and without any outside interference – something they themselves thought entirely unacceptable within Westminster.

So what qualifications or experience do the possible candidates claim to have?

Kate Forbes, at 32, has spent most of her working life in politics or charities.

She has a degree in history and spent some time with Barclays Bank which would appear to be her only connection to real-world finance. Essentially, she’s been nowhere and done nothing but thinks that minuscule involvement in the real working world qualifies her to run a country. She is completely out of her depth.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf. Image: Jasperimage

Humza Yousaf has proven his ineptitude in a number of SNP positions. He was responsible for the much-hated (ironically) Hate Crime Bill which was one of the worst pieces of legislation ever to emanate from the Scottish Parliament. As health minister he has presided over the slow death of the NHS in Scotland and appears utterly incapable of improving the situation.

Like Kate Forbes he has spent more time talking politics, with a degree in the subject, than experiencing the real world.

These two seem to be the principals in this race but looking through the SNP as a whole there is not one individual who would inspire confidence and look like they knew what they were doing, not that that stopped Nicola Sturgeon.

Stewart Wight, Upper Haddo.

Don’t plot against popular candidate

Sir, – The SNP and Conservative leadership campaigns are remarkably similar – a “car (or scooter) crash waiting to happen” candidate and a “blindingly obvious” one who, despite powerful forces in their party plotting against them, are more popular with the electorate. Quite important, you’d think, for parties facing defeat at the next election.

And if Forbes wipes the floor with Yousaf in televised debates, and SNP members inexplicably choose him, Yousaf may well crash, burn and resign and Forbes will take over.

Our third FM in perhaps even less than Truss’s 49 days – result.

Allan Sutherland, Willow Row, Stonehaven.

Tories in no position to criticise anyone

Sir, – We have the usual contributors crowing with glee at Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to resign, hoping this means the demise of the SNP. The only party that has been in-fighting for 40 years-plus are the Tories, whose obsession with the EU ripping them asunder led to the disaster that is Brexit.

Much criticism of the SNP who, in fairness, have made mistakes, but nothing on the scale of those made elsewhere. Almost crashing the economy, several devaluations of the pound, along with the country’s credit rating being reduced twice far outweigh any shortcomings at Holyrood.

Both unionist parties have allowed the gap between rich and poor to widen exponentially. The only party to try and address that issue is the SNP, to their credit. Things such as the additional child payment, baby boxes and a myriad of other actions have helped no end.

Unionists complain of the, marginally, higher tax rates in Scotland for the better off to fund services we all use and need. No mention that the tax levels UK-wide are at their highest level for 40 years under a Tory government.

The SNP was formed as a vehicle to further the independence cause. Given a significant part of the population still desire that, it won’t be going anywhere any time soon. The party that may well hit the buffers in Scotland is the Tory party and we all know why.

Labour? Who knows. Their policies seem dependent on the way the wind is blowing.

Ron Campbell, Richmond Walk, Aberdeen.

Stuck in a rut over numbers of deer

Sir, – In his article about deer numbers in Assynt (Press and Journal, February 15), Victor Clements has his facts wrong. He claims: “It is not true that the deer populations of Assynt have increased by 40% in a decade” and that the John Muir Trust is being “sleekit” and “disingenuous” with the figures.

Deer culling on Assynt has been criticised. Image: Scottish Gamekeepers Association

The figures, based on six independent helicopter counts over the last 12 years, are as follows: 1,383 (spring 2011), 1,419 (spring 2013), 881 (autumn 2014), 1,696 (spring 2016), 2,003 (spring 2018), 1,921 (spring 2022).

These figures clearly show that the deer population (based on spring counts) has risen by over 39% since 2011.

Mike Daniels, John Muir Trust.

A beacon of hope for Granite City?

Sir, – Your report of the Ness Energy Project incinerator in East Tullos, Aberdeen, which is to be tested imminently, presents a great opportunity.

Perhaps our soon-to-be-appointed first minister will be invited to light the first bonfire. A good fire would burn the trash we have had to endure and perhaps be a beacon of hope for better times ahead.

Colin R Pike, Maryculter.

No obvious benefit to domestic users

Sir, – Does it simply mean that it increases their profits when energy producers continue to sell at the “international” price and domestic consumers see no benefit?

If I am right in my understanding (and I would appreciate any explanation as to why I have got it wrong) then is it not time to uncouple UK domestic energy consumption from the international market?

Yes, it would be difficult but even I can envisage an algorithm that would ascribe any “import” penalty (e.g. on wood-chip or LPG) on UK producers, and require them to satisfy the entire domestic market first (based on their output as a percentage of the total domestic requirement) and at a controlled cost-plus basis with the surplus going to UK non-domestic and international markets at free market prices.

Douglas Tait, Lonmay.

Has dualling of the A9 run out of road?

Sir, – In 2011 when we were youthful, the SNP administration “promised” that the A9 would be dualled by 2025. What is the value of a “promise” when there is no commitment or intent? Do we let these people off? Should the current and previous transport ministers leave office immediately? Fergus Ewing MSP (P&J, February 20) is correct in demanding answers.

In 2011 when I heard the “promise” from people who purported to be for Scotland, I thought “2025”? That is an incredibly long time to wait for dualling the A9, and why not do this in five to seven years if it is a priority? With only 10 miles of 112 miles completed, we seem to be 10 years late? The questions to be asked are: was this incompetence or was there never a desire to dual the road?

A project requires a timetable and it has milestones.

The A9 north of Aviemore. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Did no one think to tell the Scottish Parliament until the sun was setting that it was well behind schedule? Lack of funding is an excuse as, if the project had been on schedule, it would have been within the costs before inflation had taken its toll. For example, say the road dualling cost £1 billion, £100 million would have been allocated in each year and the project would have been do-able. It is amusing that the only tender for the next section was declined and the project is to be re-tendered. It was apparently over-priced by around 15%? but, with inflation running as it is, the tender might have been good value.

The case for dualling has often been quoted as for safety reasons. Drivers from Europe are on motorways from Dover and then they hit a confusing mix of single and dual road. However, Inverness is the fastest-growing UK city, other parts of the north need boosting, tourism is a critical part of the Scottish economy, the Highlands and Moray need to be connected with the south, there is a greenport coming to Easter Ross and many other new industries to the wider Highland area.

If the Scottish economy is to prosper, as the Highlands is the key growth area, then dualling of the A9 is an economic necessity and urgently needed. Is the current administration showing urgency or any concern? MSPs from other parties have also taken their eye off the ball and have not held the Scottish Government consistently accountable.

Why wait until now to complain?

Can I appeal that to make progress on the A9 all political parties in the north take a united and a cross-party approach. They should work together closely as north MSPs and “get this job done”.

One is tempted to suggest that the former Scottish Office was more efficient.

And as for the A82?

Jim Treasurer, Fort William.

Cafe 52 lights up city centre

Sir, – Thank goodness Cafe 52 has been allowed to stay in The Green for at least a few more years and I hope even more.

It was a delight to be taken for a meal there in the new year, the food was absolutely excellent and the people serving us were extremely attentive. It was really nice to be in the centre of Aberdeen and feel happy for a change as Union Street makes me miserable.

The Cafe 52 hut. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

I totally agree with Boyd Wright – the Shepherd’s Hut is exactly what Aberdeen needs. It is wonderful that we have some folk who care about building and can foresee the light ahead.

The council chiefs seem to have little or no insight for creating other than the demolishing – of course, that is only my opinion.

Ann Killman