Readers’ letters: Scottish Parliament must show leadership in cost of living crisis


Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross.

This on top of the £12bn national insurance tax rise, inflation potentially rising to double digits by the end of the year and fuel prices already about 50 per cent higher than a year ago will push thousands of Scots into poverty this year.

Neil Cowan of the Poverty Alliance writes (Scotsman, 1 April) that the economy badly needs restructuring to prevent further mass hardship, while Which? considers Scots will on average be £1100 a year worse off from rising energy and food costs.

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It is with amazement that our Scottish Parliament has still to properly debate this issue, preferring to concentrate on Covid, where parties agree to end restrictions, and overdue ferries.

Is it not time our Finance Minister instigates an emergency budget to help the most vulnerable?

Those on universal credit, who recently saw a £20 a week cut, will face benefits rising by 3 per cent while inflation is already over 6 per cent and expected to rise much further.

Failure by the UK Government to protect the most vulnerable is estimated by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to pull 600,000 more into poverty yet the Scottish Government’s response has been pitiful, amounting to energy efficiency advice to 12,000 more families and little else.

The cost of living crisis is considered to be the top issue for voters and will dominate the local elections.

The Conservatives’ record on this issue and the decision to leave an untrustworthy Boris Johnson as PM and, given his recent U-turn, Douglas Ross as leader in Scotland, will be catastrophic at the polls.

Moreover, unless the Scottish Government shows leadership on the crisis the electorate will not forgive them, leaving more Scots struggling to simply survive.

I agree with your correspondent Colin Hamilton (Scotsman, April 2) that what made your April Fool joke so good was “that it verged on the believable”.

I fully support expenditure on Gaelic promotion in the areas it is spoken, but here in the Borders we have emergency vehicles ludicrously labeled “puleas” and “ambulans”.

Even some stations on the new Tweedbank rail line in Midlothian are double labelled, though fortunately nobody has yet invented Gaelic for Stow, Galashiels or Tweedbank.

Lord Steel of Aikwood, Selkirk

One old lady in Edinburgh that I used to visit as a GP was always wrapped in rugs and shawls all winter.

She sat in her cold house in front of an unlit gas fire that she could only afford to use for a short time each day.

She told me that she managed fine by shopping once a week for a cheap cut of meat and all the cheaper vegetables and potatoes she could find. This she turned into soup and ate with bread as her main meal of the day in measured amounts for the rest of the week.

The rest of the day she made do with tea and bread with the cheapest butter and jam she could find. It wasn’t much of a life.

An old man I met told me that he used to get on a circular bus and sit there in the warm bus for a morning’s circuits until he had to go home. It passed the day, he said, gave him folk to blether to and anything was better than a cold house.

Things have improved since those days. There are foodbanks that bring person to person contact and something to swell an empty larder.

But pensions have not improved since then and current inflation means that they now buy less, even though Sunak has told us that he has raised them.

He would have been better to have saved the money on postage and given it to the recipients. They could have bought food with it. A letter with an empty promise is not editable.

What more can we do? The Sikh Church in Calcutta feeds 200 people a day with a sustaining meal. I believe the one in Leith does the same. Should the Church of Scotland come out of hibernation and feed its poor?

I know it is important to mitigate poverty in third world countries and that is what our collections go to, but there are needy people nearer to home and until Independence allows our government to care for our pensioners it would be nice to think our collections might be used for a weekly meal and get together for the ancient who have worked all their lives for us.

I’d almost be encouraged to go to church more often.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh

While electricity and its production is taken for granted today, I hope that the figures below will illustrate that, once gas and oil have been eliminated “to save the planet” by 2030, we will find that truly enormous changes have to take place in our attitudes to all things using electricity.

How we will generate sufficient electricity after that year will frighten all of us and here is why!

In the good sunny days in late March this year, all the UK wind turbines combined could, at one point, produce only 1.97 per cent of Britain’s electrical needs. That means that to manufacture sufficient electricity for our nation, if you decommission all gas and oil power stations, you would have to increase the best source of power (wind turbines) by 98.3 per cent!

As 12,000 of our wind turbines were needed to produce that 1.97 per cent, then we’d need about 98 times that number of “windmills” to guarantee our electricity supply, which means we’d have to have about 1,176,000 wind turbines in operation! While that might be technically possible, and we’d all be getting our electricity, we would then be living in some sort of “forest” of steel towers. It can never happen! Even the above figures will pale into insignificance once the 32 million vehicles on our roads will have to be powered by electricity by 2030! Hydrogen has to be the logical fuel for vehicles – and home heating, as Fife Council has realized – and both it and our general electricity supply have to come from shore-based tidal turbines.

We are, after all, an island nation and surrounded by tidal waters. Let’s make the most of them; after all, they’ll work 24 hours a day and in all weathers!

Archibald A Lawrie, Kingskettle, Fife

Bill Graham explained the ease of manufacture of methanol and its use as a means of fuel for power stations (letters, 2 April).

In the 1960s I drove a race car powered by methanol. Perhaps it should also be considered as a replacement fuel for the internal combustion engine.

Donald Carmichael, East Linton

August Graham’s report (“UK must commit to nuclear or turn away”, Scotsman, April 1) was quoting what Sir Dieter Helm said at the Policy Exchange meeting last week.

Professor Helm said that most nuclear power plants are built by governments, with government money and by government-owned companies. This is the only way to ensure that the wholesale cost of electricity is kept as low as possible, but the UK government seems unable to understand that this is the way forward.

I would totally disagree with Professor Helm that there is a choice to either “commit to nuclear or turn away.” There is absolutely no alternative but to commit to a significant increase in nuclear energy capacity if we are to have any hope of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The government commissioned a “Cost of Energy Review” which was published In October. 2017. Professor Helm chaired the review and concluded “the cost of energy is significantly higher than it needs to be to meet the government’s objectives.”

The government gave no knowledge of this review in 2017 and over the intervening five years no new nuclear plants were been commissioned because the Westminster government will not build and finance them to provide low cost electricity.

It can be concluded that the government have no credible energy policy and it is not helped by the Scottish Government restating their objection to nuclear energy, which is confirmation that Scotland will never reach net zero in 2050 or any time thereafter.

Gerald Edwards (letters, April 2) faults the Scottish Government for not increasing renewable electricity generation more than 98.6 per cent. Does he realize energy policy is reserved to Westminster? Scotland has 26 per cent of the UK’s renewable energy generation, yet Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, charges Scottish renewables producers the highest grid connection charges in Europe and ten times more than their English and Welsh counterparts, determining the development of new projects.

On top of this, Scottish consumers will pay 83-100 per cent more in standing charges compared to 38 per cent for London consumers.

Since the price of renewables hasn’t changed, the only explanation is Scottish consumers are being deliberately discriminated against.

The UK sold off Scotland’s oil and gas resources to private companies that currently pay zero in taxes.

While these companies rake in the money, ordinary citizens face ruinous bills that will tip many more into poverty.

Sunak won’t levy a windfall tax on big oil companies, preferring to coddle them and their shareholders, many of whom fill Tory coffers.

And don’t forget the UK Government shunned the shovel-ready Aberdeenshire carbon capture project in favor of sites in northern England to shore up the crumbling Tory red wall.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

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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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