INAUGURAL accounts of the Scottish State-owned National Investment Bank of Scotland show former boss Eilidh Mactaggart made nearly £500,000 during her 15 months in office (“The outgoing boss of the bank won £500,000”, The Herald, 5 October). It was also revealed that bank managers are paid up to £1,250 a day and non-executive directors up to £850 a day.
Recently it was revealed that the former boss of ill-fated ferry company Ferguson Marine was paid the astonishing sum of £2,780.00 a day – yes, a day – for failing to deliver the goods.
Since Nicola Sturgeon became prime minister, this SNP government has been riding hard-earned taxpayers’ money with so many unfortunate and costly projects. What is surprising is that support for independence seems to be holding up. I can only assume the supporters don’t care about the economy and funding the breakup fight, are happy the money is wasted, and are totally caught up in teenage emotion of some kind of “freedom.” “. The FM said in September 2016 that “independence is more important than oil, balance sheets and national wealth” and clearly supporters bought into this shocking and irresponsible thought process.
I saw a comment this week from an independence supporter who genuinely believes that Scotland will be independent in October 2023 and we will be in the EU the following week. The naivety of these people is astonishing and it is time they wake up to what Mrs Sturgeon has done to Scotland.
Douglas Cowe, Newmachar
We need public party funding
I am glad to hear from Peter A Russell (Letters, 6 October) that the Labor Party agreed at its recent conference that proportional representation “should be included in its forthcoming general election manifesto”. Whether this aspiration materializes is, at best, doubtful.
Mr Russell was responding to a powerful and interesting article by Adam Tomkins (“Be bold, Sir Keir: this is your chance to break the mould”, The Herald, October 5). Mr Tomkins pointed to the weakness of first-past-the-post elections, which are producing in Westminster “a regime that governs not for the general public, but for its own little band of twirling-eyed true believers”. PR would produce a Parliament with more and smaller parties, with real policy debate and compromises made by all parties involved; a big improvement on the current system where the Chancellor can simply walk into the House of Commons and sign off the UK with hundreds of billions in debt, without even putting his plan through the Cabinet first.
Mr Tomkins blamed the Blair/Brown governments for not seizing the opportunity to introduce PR when they had the power to do so. He’s right, of course, but I don’t see any party in power, sitting on an overwhelming majority, abandoning the system that gave it that majority. Despite Mr Russell’s optimism, Sir Keir Starmer is likely to be exactly the same, putting party and personal advantage above long-term national interest; I hope he proves me wrong.
Mr. Tomkins could have mentioned another opportunity missed by the Blair/Brown governments: they could have introduced public funding of political parties, without donations allowed. Some might object to the idea that their taxes fund parties whose policies they oppose, but the system would be better than the one we have now. It would keep the Conservatives out of the pockets of their wealthy donors and Labor out of the pockets of the big unions. We could have a Parliament where MPs look to their constituents for information, ideas and support, not to donors pulling their strings.
Doug Maughan, dunblane
Work will not bring PR
NOT often I agree with Adam Tomkins but as a long time proponent of proportional representation it was heartening to see him advocating that Sir Keir Starmer, assuming Labor wins the next general election, should reform the Westminster electoral system.
Peter A Russell agrees and points out that the recent Labor Party Conference demanded that proportional representation be included in its forthcoming general election manifesto. Unfortunately, despite all the positive reasons put forward by Mr Tomkins, Sir Keir is opposed to the proposal and, like so many Labor prime ministers before him, has no intention of going ahead with it.
“Change the electoral system and you change politics,” writes Mr. Tomkins. And how badly we need to do this, not only in the UK as a whole, but also in Scotland, where it is paralyzed by Westminster and our constitutional debate. Given his position on this last point, I am surprised that Mr Tomkins did not suggest that public relations at Westminster would also, in all likelihood, undermine the cause of independence, for a generation at least.
David Bruce, Troon
Tax cuts are not the solution
FOR some politicians and commentators, the solution to almost all economic problems lies in tax cuts. Guy Stenhouse seems firmly in this camp (“Scotland needs a low-tax regime too – and here’s where to start”, The Herald, 5 October).
But it won’t work. We are, apparently, “sinking under the weight of our own expenses”. Yet other countries have higher government spending and are both more economically prosperous and have a happier, healthier population.
The truth is that the alleged iron link between low taxes and strong economic performance is a myth. British businesses were not asking for the Chancellor’s corporation tax cut. What they want above all is what they have always wanted, a stable economic and political environment. This hasn’t been offered since the 2010 election. Covid and the war in Ukraine are sadly and tragically real, but aren’t the solid excuses for the UK’s poor economic performance that the UK government keeps telling us . The UK is the only G7 economy yet to surpass its pre-Covid peak, but the effects of both ailments have been near universal.
The real reasons are the legacy of austerity, Brexit and very low public and private sector investment, including investment in workforce training. All of this can be attributed directly to conservative economic policy. Another huge failure concerns housing policy.
Instead of worshiping the false god of market purity and a very small group of entrepreneurs and innovators with epic salaries elevated to hero status, there is a better, proven path to improving economic performance. And it’s really not complicated. The fundamental need is to identify the basics and do them correctly. These are stability, infrastructure, which includes education and health, and investment in employees and the tools to do the job. All have been abandoned in favor of ideological mirages and the self-serving recommendations of major political donors.
However, rather than proven and effective solutions, we seem destined to endure those that are faith-based and effectively serve only a very small minority.
Alasdair Rankin, Edinburgh
• Tax cuts benefit the economy by putting more of people’s income at their own disposal. Naturally, they benefit more those who pay more taxes than the others, the so-called rich. That’s the whole point of exercise. Otherwise, the tax cuts would have no effect.
Another good move would be to give companies 100% tax relief for money spent on new equipment and machinery. This would stimulate the economy and create jobs. The obsession we have with the “justice” of everything related to taxation is a huge brake on our development.
Malcolm Parkin, Kinross
Two categories of citizens
ACCORDING to YouGov, 55% of Scots think the SNP administration should use its powers to follow Her Majesty’s Government and cut the basic rate of income tax to 19p. Coincidentally – or not – it’s much the same as those who both oppose holding a referendum next year and the Scots who actually pay income tax. It’s hardly surprising that those who oppose lowering the tax rate and those who aren’t sure — who don’t have a dog in the fight — are voting the way they do. Letting those who actually pay tax pay more than those elsewhere in the UK is their attitude.
The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition’s policy of taking more and more people off income tax seemed like a good move, benefiting those most in need. But what he did was create two classes of citizens: those who have an interest in voting for other people to pay more taxes in order to provide more freebies to everyone, and those who actually pay. There’s more than a hint of irresponsibility about this.
Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh
Read more letters: If you really want growth, give more money to the poor
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