I NOTE your report on the work of the first Citizens Assembly (“First Citizens Assembly sets out 60 visions for ‘a fairer Scotland’”, The , January 13).
The chair said that this was not a tick-box exercise. With no notion of how much the recommendations would cost, and a recommendation for higher taxes on the rich and large companies with no notion of how much could be raised and assuming the rich and companies would stay in Scotland in order to pay high tax, this report is no more than a wish list.
This has been an expensive waste of £1.4 million to give 100 people the opportunity to ask for everything for nothing. Citizens assemblies in other countries have addressed one specific issue they could influence, for example abortion in Ireland, fully understanding the issue and implications.
The post-war generation in Scotland expected to work hard for what they wanted but successive Scottish governments, no matter their political background, have sought to bribe the population with freebies in order to stay in power, with no tax implications for the vast majority. It is little surprise then that those brought up to expect freebies would wish for more at no expense to them.
Yet another example of the Scottish Government wasting money whilst core public services are starved of resources.
Bill Eadie, Glasgow G44.
PUBLIC MUST HAVE A ROLE
I READ with interest Alan Simpson’s column in which he expressed his negativity regarding Citizens’ Assemblies (“£10k an opinion is waste of taxpayers’ money”, The , January 14).
The reason Citizens’ Assemblies are so important is because it has been shown time and time again that centralised government does not work. Ordinary people must have the opportunity to make their opinions known, to make sure that policy makers take the lives and experiences of citizens into consideration when putting anything into law. For example, I believe that tax haven loopholes must be closed. I believe that we should have a second governing chamber which is elected.
It is the responsibility of our elected representatives to govern for the benefit of every citizen, not just the rich and powerful.
The people who take part in Citizens’ Assemblies should be given expenses to cover any loss they might experience; I do not believe they should be paid a salary. But I totally disagree with Mr Simpson when he says “the majority of us have no real interest” in influencing what goes on in the Scottish Parliament. There are millions of activists in this country, of which I am one, who are sick and tired of the rich and powerful trashing our society. Mr Simpson has the choice not to take part if he so desires, but if he takes no part in the consultative process he can’t then complain if he doesn’t like the result of not participating.
Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.
GOVERNMENT CAN’T KEEP A SECRET
IT is a good thing that an independent Scotland would not want to be a nuclear power. SNP politicians don’t appear to be very good at keeping secrets.
Nicola Sturgeon revealed the contents of a private conversation she had had with Keiza Dugdale on national TV a few years ago. On Wednesday, Jeane Freeman revealed the location of the UK storage facility where our vaccines are being held, something that was being kept secret for security reasons. And finally on Thursday, the Scottish Government had to remove its vaccination plan from its website due to having included confidential information that could have risked the numbers the UK is able to acquire. Just imagine if they had access to state secrets.
Jane Lax, Aberlour.
JOHNSON SHOWING PETTY NATIONALISM
I AGREE that there is no place for petty nationalism (Letters, January 13) and, as a supporter of independence for Scotland, believe there is nothing petty about discussing our country’s future.
I think a good example of petty nationalism was displayed by Mr Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions (January 13), when, not for the first time, and despite previous rebukes by the Speaker, he referred to the SNP as the “Scottish Nationalist Party” (“Johnson hams it up for Starmer and needles SNP over Oxford jab”, The , January 14). It’s a ruse he used to avoid answering the question about why Brexit has been a disaster for many fishermen on Scotland’s West Coast.
The First Minister displays her concern about the pandemic at almost each daily briefing. Polls show that, by a significant margin, she is the most trusted political leader in the UK, and I doubt that a fair-minded person would question her sincerity. Unionist criticism of the running of an election in May is more to do with their concern about the result than the timing itself. Many elections across the world have gone ahead during the pandemic. The Conservatives were happy to try to negotiate the removal of the UK from the EU, including refusing to extend the transition period beyond 2020, while the Covid-19 virus has been rampaging.
To say that Scotland’s economy would struggle without the assistance of the Barnett Formula is a self-evident truth, as we do not have full economic levers. The UK Government has the principal borrowing powers, Scotland’s continue to be restricted, as part of the devolution settlement. The funding from the UK is not a gift; it’s a return of some of the tax returns generated in Scotland which go to the Treasury.
I’m happy to believe that a country with 34 per cent of the UK’s natural resources (cf.