Readers’ Letters: Give new Transport Minister time to do job

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New Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth (right) with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and new Culture Minister Neil Gray this week (Picture: Fraser Bremner/Getty Images)

Reconciling the interests of the climate change lobby, the road lobby, car users, cyclists, persons with disabilities, railway and public transport enthusiasts, indeed those who would like to see a ferry link between Rosyth and the European mainland, is a very, very difficult task. It has taxed the talents of current Cabinet ministers Humza Yousaf and Keith Brown in recent years.

Ms Gilruth has shown herself to be adept at local level in handling the question of the Levenmouth rail link, as well as some important safety improvements to that part of the A92 trunk road through her constituency. She may well face some questions about conflicts of interest as she pursues her aims at a national level.

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Yet it would be unfair to do so. The transport issues that Scotland faces cross constituency boundaries. A carbon neutral transport system throughout the country – with well used cycleways, electric cars and bus/coaches moving along safe carriageways, perhaps alongside cheap and viable railways – is a noble vision. It will require imagination and resilience to see it through.

The new Transport Minister should not be moved in future Cabinet reshuffles in the coming years unless absolutely necessary. She should be allowed the time to continue and develop a transport strategy that will meet a number of needs. Those of business, fitness enthusiasts, transport operators, the elderly, young and disabled yearning for more mobility and all those who see the future of the planet as a priority.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

With the convenient delay in publication of Sue Gray’s “partygate” report this week and the British Labor Party’s chronic failure to dent the confidence of one of the most corrupt and malevolent Westminster Tory governments Scotland has ever had to endure, more important geopolitical matters have been playing out at the other end of Europe, concerning the Ukraine. According to our media, the UK is an important player in this current crisis and a “go-to” partner for the Ukrainian government. Yet the key event this week was Wednesday’s meeting in Paris between senior government officials from Russia, the Ukraine, Germany and France, to try to collectively and pro-actively defuse the crisis and avoid a major war in the east of the European mainland.

And the UK was nowhere to be seen. So much for the stature and “soft power” of post-Brexit “global Britain” – not invited to key talks concerning the security of our own hemisphere! Indeed, when was the last time we saw international statesmen/women of any stature visiting No.10 Downing Street to discuss matters of great importance? (Hungary’s Victor Orban doesn’t count).

Even little Ireland has more “soft power” than the UK now and has this week persuaded the Russian government to meet it to discuss changes to their planned naval exercises in the Atlantic Ocean off SW Ireland next month.

The truth is that the UK has become a pariah state, the docile wee pal of the US and a kissing cousin of the distant Aussies, but with no close partners in our own European backyard. And no wonder, while it continues to obsess with petty EU squabbles over fishing rights, the NI Protocol (which actually most folks in NI are happy enough with), and the ongoing Article 16 threats from the vacuous Liz Truss (en route to Australia in her private jet, paid for by UK taxpayers, to enable wealthy Aussie farmers get unrestricted access to our food markets).

D Jamieson, Dunbar, East Lothian

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Nicola Sturgeon announces new Transport Minister for Scotland as Jenny Gilruth

Lewis Carroll’s Bellman, in “The Hunting of the Snark”, assured us that what he said three times was true. Boris has taken this advice to heart in telling us how well he and we have done since Brexit and throughout the Covid 19 epidemic.

Unfortunately, facts drawn from World Bank, OECD, IMF and national sources, published earlier this month, support neither the Bellman nor Boris.

Out of 11 major developed countries, including Germany, France and the United States, Britain ranked second worst to Spain in terms of GDP. In terms of Household Income per Person and Share Prices, the position was the same, beaten for the wooden spoon only by Spain, while the figures for investment show Spain doing better but Norway doing worse.

Carroll wrote nonsense rhymes. So too does Boris.

I do feel that articles like Brian Ferguson’s, in baldly stating Viscount Melville’s role in “delaying” the slave-trade’s abolition by 15 years until 1807, should qualify that statement with the possibility, or even probability, that the delay at least ensured the trade did not continue for a further 15 years or even longer after 1807.

As Melville’s descendants and historians have argued, he knew in 1792 there was no chance then that parliament would enact an abolition bill. Success depended on gradual progress with the ground well prepared. The new plaque on the Dundas Monument should include this point too.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

Since “partygate” has been referred to the Metropolitan Police it has effectively become “sub judice” during the police investigation, which prevents any further discussion. Police investigations are notoriously lengthy processes as witness statements have to be collected, collated and in the event that further action needs to be taken, submitted to the DPP. So in a couple of years that “due process” takes it may be decided to issue the small fines to the guilty parties!

In the meanwhile the whole incident will be forgotten as life moves on and Boris and his cabal will be free to inflict further damage on our democracy.

(Dr) AEA Porter, Bridge of Allan, Stirling

The arrogance of Great Britain and the Westminster establishment, priding themselves that their political system is superior to others around the world. They believe that fair play and decency in public office has protected its citizens or subjects from the intolerance and corruption found in lesser countries.

Well, how the proud and mighty have fallen into the dust of complacency and failure with the unbelievable antics of this UK Tory government, led by a lying, deceitful Prime Minister.

Scotland must leave this rotten union as soon as possible, since a snap General Election will bury us all in a rising tide of English or British Nationalism, destroying the peace and harmony of Europe.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland

Liam Kerr claims nuclear power is the cheapest source of clean electricity (Perspective, 28 January). He’s wrong.

After the government privatized the industry in 1996, it went bankrupt in 2002 and all 15 UK reactors were sold to France’s state-owned EDF. Since then, no new UK plants have come on stream and the one under construction, Hinkley Point C, is a decade late and at £23 billion, £4.5bn over budget. Private finance for more plants hasn’t materialized due to design flaws and safety concerns.

In desperation, the government’s nuclear financing bill aims to pass these costs onto consumers, adding £63bn to our energy bills. Consumers are not only exposed to the cost of capital but also to the volume. This matters, says Richard Hall, Chief Energy Economist at Citizens Advice, because “nuclear projects have a track record of coming in over budget and behind schedule”. Under the bill, consumers will become the passive recipients of this risk.

Nuclear waste has been called the Achilles heel of the industry in that it remains lethal for tens of thousands of years. According to Paul Dorfman, founder of the Nuclear Consulting Group, “there is no scientifically proven way of disposing of the existential problem of waste”.

In Scotland renewables supply nearly 100 per cent of our electricity and there’s capacity for far more. Compared with nuclear, renewables construction and generation costs are far lower and can create six times higher long-term employment impact.

Scotland’s future lies in renewables and outside the UK.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

Green MSP Lorna Slater has insisted that it is “full steam ahead” for Scotland’s deposit return scheme to launch in the summer of 2023 (your report, 26 January). At present most councils provide excellent facilities for glass bottles, either by picking them up from homes or by providing bottle banks. What will happen to the council employees who do this work? What will the elderly and disabled do?

Meanwhile the yobs who drop or throw their cans, bottles and takeaway boxes will continue to do so.

A 20p deposit on a £10 spend is nothing to them. I have seen these idiots sit in the car park and eat their meal and drink and then just open the car door and place the rubbish on the ground, despite there being two bins within five yards.

Draconian fines for litter dropping and illegal dumping are the solution, not penalizing those who already recycle.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Hot flushes, difficulty sleeping… Is our First Minister also perhaps contemplating Indyref2 again?

David Bone, Girvan, South Ayrshire

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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