Health

Why won’t Nicola Sturgeon resign over schools failure?



YEAR after year I remember the words of Nicola Sturgeon when she became First Minister: “Let me be clear – I want to be judged on this. If you are not, as First Minister, prepared to put your neck on the line on the education of our young people then what are you prepared to? It really matters.”

She staked her personal reputation on closing the school attainment gap between rich and poor areas in Scotland.

She has failed our future generations by not closing the attainment gap. She has in fact actually increased the gap (“Scotland’s schools attainment gap widens to record high level”, The Herald, December 15). Covid can’t be used as an excuse, as the gap was not closing before the pandemic. It has widened in four of the last five years. She needs to stop making excuses and live up to her statement.

Yet year after year the statistics show she has failed and her personal reputation is in tatters. Having said she was prepared to put her neck on the line, why has she not resigned?

Jane Lax, Aberlour.


STARMER’S MISSED OPPORTUNITY

I WOULD hope that Sir Keir Starmer does not expect any signs of gratitude from his opposite number for helping to push his Covid restrictions across the line (“Labour rescues PM as dozens of Tories rebel in Commons virus rules vote”, The Herald, December 15).

He should not be deluded in the same way the frog was by the blandishments of the scorpion which hitched a ride. Had the Leader of the Opposition made it clear that he was allowing his party’s representatives the opportunity to vote on the measures at stake as each individual thought fit, we would all have found out the true strength of the resistance in the Tory ranks to the restrictions the PM wished to put in place.

Sir Keir would then have given the PM enough rope to hang himself with in the event that the Tory resistance would have held up in the numbers which rebelled this week.

When you have an opponent in a corner, the wrong tactic is to allow that opponent breathing space which affords wriggle room and hope. If the Government hangs on to North Shropshire even by the skin of its teeth on Thursday (December 16), the PM will have the Christmas recess to get his breath back and to go again with his brash boosterism.

From being on the ropes over the breaches of Covid regulations last Christmas, he has slipped out of that corner and can now do his best to recover from the battering his reputation took from the well-founded allegations which hit him over the last few weeks.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


UKIP IS STILL WITH US

TODAY’S column by former Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins provided a skilful and entertaining analysis of Boris Johnson (“It would be a big mistake to write Johnson off just yet”, The Herald, December 15). Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, asked on live TV by Martin Geissler to list the PM’s attributes, was struck dumb and was unable to label him as either the “great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race” or a “wee creepin’ coorin’ tim’rous beastie”. Professor Tomkins, on the other hand, had clearly followed the advice of the gangsters in Kiss me Kate to “brush up your Shakespeare” and after discussing the attributes of Falstaff and Coriolanus, likened Boris Johnson to the latter and advised readers not to write him off just yet in spite of his recent fall from grace.

Where I have to disagree with Prof Tomkins is in his assertion that one of the PM’s achievements has been to wipe Nigel Farage off the political map. I would liken Mr Johnson to Mr Punch, being manipulated by the puppeteers of the Tory right. He cleansed the parliamentary party of any whose adherence to the patrician values of unshakeable honesty and integrity were liable to cramp his style. They were replaced by Nigel Farage clones and the 2019 election was fought and won on a manifesto riddled with Ukip-inspired policies. When Mr Johnson outlives his usefulness to his extreme right puppeteers they will ruthlessly cut the strings and dump him. The next generation must already be sharpening their knives.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.


LET FOUR NATIONS WORK TOGETHER

WE see today that more than 100 Tory MPs have voted against their Government, and in a rare move the Labour Party has voted with the Government to get this latest legislation through.

Isn’t it about time that we acted as the United Kingdom and instead of having rules for each country in the Union, we worked as one? Having differing views on how to deal with this is confusing and at times ridiculous.

After all, the UK Government like it or not has financed furlough for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, not to mention providing all the vaccinations in an effort to keep us all safe. Sadly our First Minister has not once acknowledged or appreciated this.

Let’s work together – that includes political parties and most of all the countries that form the United Kingdom – to deal with this pandemic.

Neil Stewart, Balfron.


WHO’S SUPPLYING THE £100 MILLION?

DESPITE what the First Minister claimed (“Ministers accused of imposing lockdown ‘by stealth’”, The Herald, December 15), would this £100 million from “our own resources” to help the hospitality industry in Scotland happen to be derived, by a convoluted process, from the entire UK tax base or the creditworthiness/borrowing power of the UK on international markets somewhere along the line? Just checking.

David Bone, Girvan.


WRONG TO CLOSE LOUISA JORDAN

WE are now almost back to where we were a year ago. Fear of a relatively mild variant of Covid spreading has caused panic because of the expected pressure on the NHS, even if large parts of the country outside the central belt have no incidences of Omicron. I can’t help wondering why the Scottish administration was so anxious to dismantle the Nightingale – sorry, Louisa Jordan – hospital that was built so expeditiously in 2020, with help from the British Army. Surely, after the appearance of Kent, Delta and other variants, a new one was to be expected?

I appreciate that pressure on NHS staff has to be a consideration, yet keeping a Nightingale hospital available for use would have provided extra capacity, perhaps to be staffed by Army medical personnel. Dismantling the new hospital looks like a failure of joined-up thinking.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


OH HAD HE BEEN SAE WISE

CONVERSATION at the golf club being of a doom and gloomy nature, I questioned why politicians use hyperbole in their attempts to frighten us. Nicola Sturgeon speaks of a tsunami of infection by Omicron, while her deputy, John Swinney, warns of the variant galloping through Scotland.

On reflection, I lightened my own mood by picturing Mr Swinney playing the part of Tam o’ Shanter, “Weel mounted on his grey mare, Meg/A better never lifted leg/Tam skelpit on thro’ dub and mire/Despisin’ wind and rain and fire”.

Surely a little jollity is permissible in these momentous times.

David Miller, Milngavie.

* IN Hamlet, Shakespeare refers to the belief that evil spirits can do no harm on Christmas Day. I wonder whether the Scottish Government takes the same view about the coronavirus?

Kenneth Fraser, St Andrews.


PUT BUSINESS TOP OF OUR AGENDA

ONE day with two stories that should have been of great political interest but hardly a murmur. We can’t blame this on Covid, because this is a development that has been long trending in reality while absent in the sphere of public debate.

Yet another major Scottish company has been taken over (“Stagecoach chief executive set to leave company after takeover”, the Herald, December 15). This has been in the making for a considerable period, but where have Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government been on this and the many other examples which have left Scotland as one of the most externally owned of developed countries?

In the same issue there is an excellent article by James Anderson of Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust which should be required reading by all of our politicians, civil servants and what is left of our business class (“Scotland must learn to be bold and ambitious in industry again”, The Herald, December 15). He contrasts the examples from other parts of Europe to what we have seen in Scotland – lots of potential, lots of skill but no leadership or long-term vision for the economy of this country.

I can’t do better than to quote Mr Anderson: “There seems to be no nexus of support in Scottish circles and little evident encouragement from those in political and administrative power … in Sweden there is a circle of concerned and committed entrepreneurs that becomes self-reinforcing.” Big industrial development debates have substantially disappeared from mainstream Scottish politics and at the top business levels we have more administrators by far than entrepreneurs. But, of course, that is what happens when your economy is externally owned and controlled.

Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.

Read more: When will the voters wise up to the damage Sturgeon causes?





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