Letters: Performance of Darling is not an open and shut case

Darling's efforts have not impressed all. Picture: PA
Darling's efforts have not impressed all. Picture: PA
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Your report claims Alistair Darling was widely praised over his handling of the banking crisis (News, December 27).

This view is not shared by the governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King who in a BBC lecture on May 2, criticised the lack of immediate action by Alistair Darling and the last Labour government in the early days of the banking crisis after the collapse of Northern Rock, saying that this could have cost up to one million people their jobs.

Swifter action would have at least mitigated the problems at RBS and HBOS which came to ahead one year later and the fact remains that the last Labour government created the spend now, pay later culture that encouraged the banks to lend beyond their means and thanks to PFI have landed our local hospital boards and councils with horrendous repayment terms over the next 15 to 20 years.

In 2014 we will have an opportunity to do things differently in a new Scotland rather than voting for more of the same austerity and cuts to universal services.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh

Non-believers can join in fun

I am a secularist who loves Christmas, which sometimes surprises my Christian friends.

There is a psychological inevitability of celebrating the solstice. Our caveman brains are halfway through the dark of winter and ancient northern people would have noticed the returning light. Yule was around for many hundreds of years before the advent of Christianity. When it arrived the druids were told: “Don’t worry. We’re going to call it Christmas now but you can keep your mistletoe and holly.”

Christmas is a smorgasbord of many influences to which the rich iconography of Christianity is a welcome recent contributor. As we huddle round the fire, the baby Jesus story, with its tale of rags, riches and optimism for all, steps up delightfully to the remit of a seasonal myth. Many beautiful carols have been coined in its name and I am happy to participate by the singing of them.

Christianity has contributed much to Christmas but it doesn’t have sole ownership of its “real meaning”.

So whether you believe in the birth of the sun or the birth of the son, a very happy Yule to you all!

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive

Comments back to haunt Unionists

It is intriguing to note reports that Standard and Poor’s has put the UK’s AAA credit rating on “negative outlook” – the last of the three main ratings agencies to do so.

Senior figures in the UK government, and those others opposing Scottish independence, have understandably begun expressing the view that the credit rating is unimportant, and that a downgrade would not affect the mortgages and borrowing costs paid by individuals.

Embarrassingly these comments come after Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander attempted to whip up fears over what credit rating an independent Scotland would have.

The ill-judged comments that anti-independence politicians have readily engaged in are really coming back to haunt them now. Not only is there no reason why Scotland – with a stronger financial position than the rest of the UK and a clear record of strong fiscal management – wouldn’t secure the highest rating, but they now expect us to believe it doesn’t matter for the UK.

The record of our neighbours, such as Finland, Sweden and Norway, shows that small, well managed independent countries can have every expectation of enjoying the highest credit rating and more importantly favourable bond yields.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Help is at hand to deal with cold

As the weather gets colder and households in Edinburgh turn up their heating, many will be worrying about how to pay their energy bills.

However there is help out there, which is why I’m encouraging anyone struggling to keep warm this winter to call the free Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 or visit www.homeheathelpline.org.uk to see if they are eligible for help with their energy bills

Almost one in ten households in Edinburgh (around 20,500) are eligible for some kind of help, which could include grants for insulation, new boilers, discount and rebate schemes.

Fiona Phillips, TV presenter