Scotsman Letters: Bloated bureaucracy stunts economic growth

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Was Nicola Sturgeon right to apologize to the long dead for the sins committed against them by other long dead? (Photo: Jane Barlow – Pool/Getty Images)

A politically decadent whiff of deja vu hangs in the air, last felt in the weeks before the Covid pandemic. Then, the Scottish Minister of Health welcomed the rugby hordes to the hospitality of Murrayfield, with “Stay Safe” advertisements plastered across the stadium. Today, our Prime Minister is blithely hiring more spin doctors than Duncan Bannatyne has spin bikes, just when Scotland’s standard of living is threatened with extinction. It’s time for the Scottish government to cut its bacon muffin. The circumference of our bloated bureaucracy must shrink to defend the real economy. Lower taxes can help stabilize wages under the pressure of rising prices. We need to move quickly from rescuing the NHS to rescuing workers. I am not asking for any reduction in services, quite the contrary. We live in a digital age with endless possibilities for streamlining and automation in the public sector. This is not currently the case because the coffers are flooded with public money and it is easier to hire another organization than to innovate.

It’s also time to admit that Scottish Enterprise has turned into a middle-class jobs club. If he disappeared tomorrow, no real business would notice. A better economic return would be obtained by investing our money in transport, ports and educational projects. The days of bureaucrats playing Dragon’s Den with public money must end.

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Putin brushed off yesterday’s comfortable certainty of the proverbial wind, with European oil and gas shortages looming on the horizon. English politicians understand the urgency of the situation. They are busy refocusing energy policy around modular nuclear and indigenous fossil fuels. Holyrood is behind the times and must prioritize energy security above all else.

Our MSPs can get ahead of the situation by changing their rash stance on both the Cambo oilfield and hydraulic fracturing. The Scots can do more than wait for the refugees to arrive, we should send desperately needed surplus gas to Europe.

Calum Miller, Prestonpans, East Lothian

Nicola Sturgeon has issued an apology ‘on behalf of the Scottish government’ to all Scots persecuted and killed as witches under the Witchcraft Act 1563. Will she go on to demand an apology from the Norwegian government for injuries and the emotional damage caused by this country’s expedition against Scotland which culminated in the Battle of Largs in 1263? She might also like to seek an apology from Italy for the loss of life and suffering caused to the Scots by the Roman invasion and occupation of parts of Scotland from AD 83.

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Nicola Sturgeon issues official apology to those persecuted under the Witchcraft Act as…

If there is anything that illustrates our politicians’ failure to put facts first, it is surely the Prime Minister’s stupid excuses about “witches”.

We’ve all gone a bit mad in the UK, becoming increasingly introspective and focusing on trivialities and gossip that are far removed from the real issues facing the UK, Europe and the world at large . Please, all of you constituency representatives in Holyrood, learn from what is happening in Ukraine, let go of partisan politics and make a real effort to manage the future of Scotland, the United Kingdom and our European neighbours.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Instead of criticizing the UK’s admittedly belated refugee policy, engaging in a ‘purse dawn’ row with JK Rowling over its dismal gender recognition law – and to apologize to the “witches”, why does Nicola Sturgeon not embrace and champion the UK’s refugee sponsorship program through which churches, councils and community groups can taking responsibility for refugees, galvanizing politicians and the people of Scotland to make it work?

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

For many people who voted to leave the EU, it was only about limiting the number of migrants entering the UK. It now appears that the Conservative government is more interested in not upsetting its Brexiteer supporters than in showing even a modicum of humanitarian sentiment for those fleeing the war zone. Not content with being on a limb with the rest of Europe, Boris Johnson’s government is also on a limb when it comes to basic human decency. The behavior of the Conservative government towards Ukrainian refugees is nothing short of barbaric and an absolute shame compared to the rest of the world.

What parallels can be drawn between Winston Churchill’s war rhetoric and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s video-linked speech in the House of Commons (your report, March 9)? While the former’s heavily parodied talk of fighting on beaches, landing grounds, in hills and streets, etc. aroused emotions, it is important to remember that he qualified his remarks. Churchill did not believe for a moment that this island would be taken over in the summer of 1940. But if it was, “the Overseas Empire, armed and guarded by the British fleet, would continue the fight until, in the good God time, the new world, with all its might and power, advances towards the liberation of the old”.

Those last words were clearly a coded plea for the United States to provide more than just moral support and equipment for the war effort. President Roosevelt, chastised by memories of World War I and facing an election in November of that year, was holding back. In a famous speech, he told his followers, “I will say it again and again and again! Your boys will no longer be involved in foreign wars.” It took another 18 months and the monstrous attack on Pearl Harbor for his country to fully commit. A new international order today means that the United States will only fully engage if there is a direct threat to a NATO ally. Neil Anderson posed the dilemma eloquently (Letters, same day). If there is a direct threat to any of the surrounding allies – particularly Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – will the United States be prepared to protect them, by force if necessary?

President Zelensky’s speech met with the broadest sympathy. This had to be qualified by the knowledge that NATO would not intervene directly to protect the freedom of his country. This option should not exist if an Alliance member is directly attacked. We should want Ukraine’s freedom to be respected, but be prepared to defend it if true allies are attacked.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

I wonder what people think of Britain’s inability to provide any support to exhausted Ukrainian refugees. Does it matter that Priti Patel repeatedly misled Parliament by claiming the UK was proactively involved? Surely no one expects this government to be able to provide accurate information on anything these days.

Boris Johnson may be released. His literary mind quickly tackles the issues by announcing “ten thousand I saw at a glance”. Accuracy of detail has never been his forte.

But the persistent lie and refusal to resign when discovered breaks with all previous British constitutional conventions. Is it important? Were these conventions developed over time for a reason – to enforce a degree of integrity, to hold government accountable, to reduce public cynicism about politicians, and to require our leaders to care about based on what happens to people?

How kind is this government in its response to Ukrainian refugees? How much care will he show tomorrow when the country is engulfed in a cost of living crisis?

Somehow Boris Johnson has been disconnected from the wisdom that has enshrined the importance of speaking the truth in Parliament, which previous administrations have generally respected. There is therefore a danger that all government ministers, when they appear in public, will become subject to public cynicism. There is a danger that the public will come to believe that this administration has eroded the spirit of democracy. When that happens, the Conservative Party will have reached the point of no return and its fate in the next election will be sealed.

Before 2025, all fixed telephones will be disconnected and customers will switch to “digital voice”. This means that instead of your phone using a secure line underground in wires, it will be replaced by a new phone connected to the internet through a router.

Before your landline is disconnected, BT will send you a new router and phone with instructions on how to connect the phone to the internet. Our fixed telephones will then become junk. In BT’s guide to digital voice they say: “You will not be able to call 999 (or any other number) from this phone if there is a power outage or if you have a problem with your connection broadband so make sure you have another way to call for help in an emergency.” During Storm Arwen the only phone we could use was the BT land line into the main socket at the using a simple corded handset. The digital (mobile) phones were down, as well as all the mobile networks – for two days. If we were on “digital voice” we would have been unable to phone 999 or any other number.

Digital voice makes communications less safe and secure. As with the electricity supply, the powers that we see are bent on making things worse.

William Loneskie, Oxton, Berwickshire

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