United Kingdom

Have any of Johnson’s promises on Covid-19 fight come to fruition?

SO now we know for sure – the south of England is more important than any other part of the UK.

Northern England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have all been told that they are less worthy than the south of England. We all know this in Scotland, we just did not expect Boris to tell us through his own blatant actions.

The furlough scheme was extended when the whole of England required going into lockdown. NI, Wales much of northern England and some of Scotland has needed this scheme for many weeks but it has constantly been refused. I did not hear DRoss supporting the FM in Scotland or SNP in Parliament when they constantly requested it.

It must be something when even he can see the desperate unfairness of what was announced. DRoss simply saw his head on the block before he moved.

It now looks like it might be forthcoming, but don’t hold your breath. It is too late for all the people in Scotland that have been made redundant or let go because furlough was ending.

The PM keeps calling Track and Trace “the NHS Track and Trace”. It is nothing of the kind – it is Serco (CEO Rupert Soames) and Dido Harding that are running this so badly that it is £11 million worth of useless. This is Tory privatisation by the back door: starve the NHS of funds and then give contracts to pals. This money should have gone to NHS public health systems in England who have the knowledge and expertise to do the job.

Beware of Boris and his false promises. Has anything he has promised during this pandemic come to fruition or even close?

Winifred McCartney

via email

AS a former economist in the Scottish Office, I should like to draw attention to an issue which is seldom discussed in the debate about Scottish independence but which is becoming increasingly important – the inefficiency and sheer wastefulness of resources stemming from the current division of powers between the UK and Scottish Governments.

There is a myriad of ways in which present arrangements militate against rational and integrated decision-making. The Scottish Government’s powers to raise revenue are largely confined to income tax, and even there the power to set the personal allowance is in the hands of the UK Government. Decisions on welfare spending are similarly split between the two Governments. Not only do these examples give rise to inefficiency but the division of powers can lead to the absurdity of the Scottish Government using some of its scarce resources to offset the effect of UK Government decisions with which it disagrees.

Also, as we are seeing with the response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Scottish Government is constrained in its health policy decisions by inadequate economic powers and uncertainty over what financial resources will be available from the UK Government to mitigate the economic consequences of restrictions.

In these circumstances, which are inherent in the structure of the devolution arrangements, it is not possible for the Scottish Government to take a properly integrated approach to decision-making. This leads inevitably to inefficiency and sub-optimal outcomes. Only if all relevant powers are available to a Government is it possible to develop policies which have the potential to achieve democratic priorities in the most cost-effective way.

This is not just a matter of abstruse economic theory. Everyone in Scotland suffers because of the structural flaws in the current system. Moreover, under the provisions of the Internal Market Bill, the position would be exacerbated with the UK Government being able to pursue its own spending priorities in Scotland within many of the functional areas devolved to the Scottish Parliament, no doubt cutting across the Scottish Government’s own policies in the process.

Unionists may argue that the way to resolve this unsatisfactory situation is to reduce or even abolish the powers of the Scottish Parliament. There are already clear signs of these views being aired by some Conservative politicians. However, there seems little doubt, based on recent polling evidence about trust in the respective Governments, that the people of Scotland would reject this approach.

There are many other reasons to support Scottish independence, but I suggest the next prospectus on the subject should highlight the economic efficiency argument, illustrated by practical examples of how the Government of an independent Scotland, with the full range of powers available to a nation state, could pursue a new vision for the country using a more integrated policy approach.

John Randall

Isle of Lewis

A WISE pundit has said that if we Scots aspire to independence then we should speak and act as though we were.

That advice has been absorbed by Westminster. Many of their actions, especially since Johnson’s elevation, are characteristic of how to behave towards an independent country, and are actions which are the precise antithesis of those expected towards a fellow member of a real and successful Union.

The precious Union is no longer if it ever was anything beyond a comfortable delusion for Westminster and its dependencies of London and the south of England.

John Hamilton


WESTMINSTER’S slap in the face to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland regarding the latest furlough scheme proves once and for all the UK Government’s contempt for those three nations.

Time for all those who still think we are a United Kingdom to remove the blinkers.

Irene Stacey


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